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Edgecase

Understanding the PTS2 CV dilemma (and a skill-based solution concept)

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1. What's the deal with AA? Some people say it's too weak, and some people say it's too strong!

The short answer is it's both. AA was restructured so it's composed of two parts: flak and chip. "Chip" is continuous damage dealt to squadrons in the AA radius, but it's a tiny amount that may as well not exist. Flak, on the other hand, are large, visible black puffs that represent zones in which planes will take tremendous AOE damage.

The key is that flak is completely avoidable, because it always aims as if you're going to maintain your current heading (or turning). If you snake, even in a very predictable S-turn pattern, it whiffs, 100% of the time. If you don't dodge, you get utterly vaporized.

What this means is that people who know about dodging flak take virtually no damage, and get off all their strikes as if it's not even there. People who don't know about it get annihilated and think AA is too strong. Given that the game is balanced around players who know at least the basic mechanics, and players who know the basic mechanics take nearly no damage from flak, AA is effectively too weak in the sense that it is too avoidable.

2. Is it fun?

As a CV, yes. You basically get to play a flak-dodging minigame while you pile munitions into the sides of enemy ships. At higher tiers, you play a resource management game to try and not run out of planes (at T4, planes replenish more or less instantly).

As everybody else... no. Against a competent CV player, you basically get harrassed for 3-4 strikes in a row while getting extremely salty that your full-spec AA is completely wasted because it buffs a bunch of black smoke puffs that are trivial to avoid. Worse, since AA ranges can't be extended, all carriers, battleships, and cruisers in the game can now be permaspotted by aircraft without being able to return fire. DDs will shoot back if spotted, but their AA is so crappy it doesn't matter.

3. Is it balanced? What impact would it have on the meta(s)?

Absolutely not. Since AA basically doesn't work against competent CV players, airplanes more or less never die. That means you can permaspot (AA can't even shoot back in most cases). It means you can strike at will, as deep into the enemy formation as you want. And even if the worst happens, all you lose are some planes that will regenerate over time, especially at low tier.

The worst impact is to destroyers. Not only are they the biggest victims of permaspotting AND strikes with minimal risk, but ask yourself, why would you ever want a destroyer on your team when you could have a carrier? They spot more ships, more safely, and can strike ships anywhere instead of requiring pre-positioning or prediction.

4. What's the central issue?

The core of the problem is that the surface ship side of the AA mechanic is based on a predictable AI and not player skill. This means that the CV player is basically PvEing against an easy mode flak AI, while the surface ship player gets no further say in the matter.

Now, to be clear, WG has included a mechanic that is supposed to allow counterplay by the surface ship, but it's grossly ineffective. The AA reinforcement mechanic (holding the tilde key and clicking a 180 degree sector) lets you boost AA on one side of your ship at the expense of the other. The amount of AA that can be shifted, and the amount of time it takes to complete the shift, differ by ship type: BBs can shift 25% of their AA in 12 seconds, CA/CL can shift 25% in 10 seconds, and DDs can shift 50% in 5 seconds. This is clearly meant to allow DDs to have an artificially high effective AA presence IF they shift their AA bubbles correctly.

It's a good idea in theory, but it suffers from several major problems. First, it's tedious. Second, it is a very shallow mechanic, with no room for defending player skill to make a difference. Third and fourth, it's ineffective: it doesn't work because (i) planes always overfly the ship after the first attack and come at it from the other side, which is now weakened; and (ii) the AA boost is to the flak, which as noted earlier, doesn't do anything to competent players anyway.

In short, there is an inadequate opportunity for skill-based counterplay from the surface ship.

5. What can be done about it?

The core problem lies with the lack of skill-based AA counterplay for surface ships. If the counterplay mechanic resulted in 20% of flak bursts hitting the planes instead of 0%, aircraft would no longer be able to spot indefinitely or attack with impunity against an equal-skill opponent. They would be worn down, their strikes would become less effective, and the squadron would eventually die.

What might such a system look like? I would implement three changes. First, I would extend the outer long-range AA aura on all ships to match their airspotting range (or reduce the airspotting range of some ships) but reduce its potency. This means that airspotting is not free, it always comes at a cost, as it should. It also allows the counterplay mechanic to be in effect sooner. The second change I would make is to get rid of the left/right side AA reinforcement system and replace it with a flak pattern selection. When the player presses tilde, the ship cycles between aimed, loose barrage, and tight barrage patterns on the next AA burst -- this keeps AA management to a single button as in the current system, but allows a skilled player to choose the most effective AA defense pattern for the type of bomber and evasive pattern that the CV player is using: aimed is effective against straight-line attacks, loose barrage gets more hits against a wide-turning opponent who spends too long in the AA envelope, and tight barrage is a compromise between the two that is most effective against players who are doing a tight weave. Third, I would make the guaranteed "chip" AA damage ramp up over time so that players who loiter too long, even in the outer ring, get punished.


TL;DR: PTS2 AA is super weak against people who know how it works. The core issue is lack of skill-based counterplay on the surface ship side. Add a button that cycles AA firing patterns to allow skill-based counterplay.

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From my experience in this round of the private test, AA starts quickly feeling a lot less weak when there are several flak auras firing on you, and / or you're dealing with player-piloted ships actually utilizing AA builds sector control, and evasive maneuvering. My flak dodging skills developed pretty quickly, but my plane loses were still very much a consideration by the end of the test.

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....you do realize your video is showing you fighting against non-maneuvering zero-captain no-upgrade BOTS??

If you want to make your narrative more convincing, make a video of yourself as a CV fighting against human-controlled enemies with AA builds and does active maneuvers.

Edited by RyuuohD_NA

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So it took 4 minutes to sink a solo BB moving in a straight line.

This proves nothing. Next.
And yes I read your entire post. Just not worth arguing over the points with this kind of video as proof of concept.

I've spent 30 hours playing non-stop to begin to put together a conclusion about the new AA/CV. Nice effort there.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Edgecase said:

TL;DR: PTS2 AA is super weak against people who know how it works. The core issue is lack of skill-based counterplay on the surface ship side. Add a button that cycles AA firing patterns to allow skill-based counterplay.

Something I've been saying for MONTHS now; Experten will dodge the AA like it doesn't exist, while everyone else will be lucky to get off 1-2 strikes.

Basically NOTHING changes as far as there will STILL be a skill gap between carrier drivers; the only difference is the carriers will have less immediate Alpha, but more DoT potential.

32 minutes ago, RyuuohD_NA said:

If you want to make your narrative more convincing, make a video of yourself as a CV fighting against human-controlled enemies with AA builds and does active maneuvers.

His point is still valid; the defender still isn't directly controlling the AA, beyond the cumbersome sector reinforment. That means a 'GASP! SHOCK!' good twitch player will be able to dodge the AA, and execute better attacks, and more attacks.

You know...

...kind of like NOW, under the RTS mechanics.

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Good post over all.

I only tried a dozen or so matches in Des Moines and Hindy to test AA effectiveness for myself, certainly not a statistically valid sample size, but I did come away feeling that given only 15-point captains, I was doing pretty much the same AA  with and without the classic cruiser AA spec, albeit sans manual control. The side-reinforcement thing was an ineffective distraction.

My takeaway was that upgrade slots and skill points will be better spent on survival and maneuverability.

Edited by So_lt_Goes
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I think that was a very helpful video for fighting against a ship going in a straight line and on its own, so it should work well against the player who free XP to a tier 10 and goes off on its own and dies then cries about no support from his team.

Would have been nice to see your video with three or four ships group together, and yes I understand there's no overlapping AA but they're still AA on each one of the ships.

 

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Excellent post as always, @Edgecase.  Well written and point supported. +1 to you.

Let's just hope that some of the devs get a good read of this.  Would love to hear @Femennenly's thoughts on your points.  I'm not against the CV rework if it's well implemented, but there is definitely a lot of trepidation within the community with what will transpire once the new patch goes live.

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News flash...   Bots are Bad!   film at 11....       

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Excellent post

 To be honest I don't like the CV rework. This class probably still will have the best average survival rate because it can strike anywhere it likes and cannot be shot back by the ship it is attacking. 

It will be nice when plane is entering into the attacking run the CV concealment will be increased to the distance between planes and the CV, sort of CV's gun bloom. So the surface ship has have a chance to shoot back.

I know, this is not based on reality.

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52 minutes ago, RA6E_ said:

News flash...   Bots are Bad!   film at 11....       

In a word, yes. And that’s why it’s bad that you’re saddled with one as your AA gunner.

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1 minute ago, Edgecase said:

In a word, yes. And that’s why it’s bad that you’re saddled with one as your AA gunner.

When in this game haven't you been?    Secondaries too for that matter?      yet here we all are ...still playing?   

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Okay, I do play CV's in CoOp on the Live Server all the time; if I take a Midway against a Bot Zao... he doesn't nuke my planes and in fact it takes *1* double TB run to kill him, so maybe 1:30 minutes as opposed to multiple runs back and forth. So how is it any different from... now? Or how I can nuke a DM with AP Bombs *now* against bots or even humans if I send *3* squads of them at him (even DFAA doesn't work 100%).

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6 hours ago, RyuuohD_NA said:

you do realize your video is showing you fighting against non-maneuvering zero-captain no-upgrade BOTS??

You do realize that the only difference is the BOT not selecting a sector of fire correct?  The AA modules and skills don't help if the damage is easy to avoid in the first place.  The problem is they baked all the AA threat into the flak system and then made that system so predictable that it is easy to avoid once you understand it.

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@Edgecase I may disagree with you in the long run, depending on how things work out, but it's nice to see a criticism of the CV rework that is well-written, makes a logical case (however right or wrong it may be) and isn't simply a rage-filled keyboard smash that would do a three-year-old proud.

They have admitted quite bluntly that it will take the whole of 0.8.0 to balance carriers. I agree completely; a full-scale live test is necessary for a change as big as this one, or the data aren't going to be fully representative. On the one hand, I think you're right in that AA is going to suck for much of the first patch. On the other hand, I think MOST of the people who will be getting into the new carriers will PROBABLY be taking a while to perfect the manual skills needed to make reliable drops of any kind, especially while dodging to avoid AA fire.

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1 hour ago, Bril01 said:

You do realize that the only difference is the BOT not selecting a sector of fire correct?  The AA modules and skills don't help if the damage is easy to avoid in the first place.  The problem is they baked all the AA threat into the flak system and then made that system so predictable that it is easy to avoid once you understand it.

You're clearly underestimating rework AA builds and active manevuers against CV planes.

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Posted this in the other thread. 

This is a full Gearing AA build, literally no Concealment or SE. 100% focused on AA and as you can see at the end of the match he almost had no chance. 

Imagine with a normal AA build or even hybrid it will fair much much worse. 
 

 

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14 minutes ago, Cobraclutch said:

Posted this in the other thread. 

This is a full Gearing AA build, literally no Concealment or SE. 100% focused on AA and as you can see at the end of the match he almost had no chance. 

Imagine with a normal AA build or even hybrid it will fair much much worse. 
 

 

And just remember, that's against a guy who doesn't actually dodge flak (you can see the planes just make straight-line attack runs and basic full turns). I don't blame the CV player, most everybody on PTS is still figuring things out, but had this been against a player who was equally knowledgeable about the AA mechanic, it would have been several times worse for the Gearing. And straight up RIP Shima.

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1 minute ago, Edgecase said:

And just remember, that's against a guy who doesn't actually dodge flak (you can see the planes just make straight-line attack runs and basic full turns). I don't blame the CV player, most everybody on PTS is still figuring things out, but had this been against a player who was equally knowledgeable about the AA mechanic, it would have been several times worse for the Gearing. And straight up RIP Shima.

Yep, and this is literally as good as it can get for a Gearing AA build, which is disappointing to say the least. 

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40 minutes ago, Cobraclutch said:

This is a full Gearing AA build, literally no Concealment or SE. 100% focused on AA and as you can see at the end of the match he almost had no chance. 

And the worst part is he is playing against a CV player who doesn't even try to dodge his flak fire.  The guy flights in a straight strafe pattern on every attack and yet he still hounds him all game and because he has unlimited planes and Flammu can't shot down even in each wave to deal him, he still can't defend himself.  We are talking taking a DD to the extreme of it's AA abilities (hell he had manual AA for crying out loud) and still without DF he couldn't really defend himself.

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3 minutes ago, Bril01 said:

And the worst part is he is playing against a CV player who doesn't even try to dodge his flak fire.  The guy flights in a straight strafe pattern on every attack and yet he still hounds him all game and because he has unlimited planes and Flammu can't shot down even in each wave to deal him, he still can't defend himself.  We are talking taking a DD to the extreme of it's AA abilities (hell he had manual AA for crying out loud) and still without DF he couldn't really defend himself.

That's probably because it's a Destroyer!?!?!?
What in the heck do you want DDs to be able to survive? Took 12 minutes for him to be destroyed during a match.

I can't. I'm unable to watch his video, read this thread and even try to consider that you guys are actually complaining that the CV killed him while defending itself.

The guy torp'd 9x. Sunk a ship, it's 3 versus 1 and he decides to go after the CV instead of capturing C and ending the game. Deserved to be sunk by the CV, asked for it.

His team Won the match, isn't that the important part? Or being able to kill the CV after 12 minutes of battle was the important part?

1523907450228.gif.a7cd5c49d038d356e48afd82c6daa54c.gif

 

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But I thought aimbots were the peak of skill in this game?  So by that logic, this AA flak should be flawless because everyone knows aimbots are why potatoes get killed by unicorns.

 

Did anyone else have that thought and laugh a little? :cap_haloween:

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