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Edgecase

Fixing the unfixable: Airspotting, AA tuning, and Interactivity

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Okay, this could easily be a long treatise, but I'm going to try and make this as straight-to-the-point as possible.

I want to solve these problems simultaneously:

  1. Planes can quickly and permanently spot destroyers so their teammates can murder them
  2. WG thinks there's a "sweet spot" for AA values that can make everyone happy; I don't think one exists
  3. Half the problem with CV vs. surface ships is not the actual balance, but the perception of not having countermeasures

I propose:

  • All airspotting uses the 6 second delay that radar will have in Patch 0.8.1
    • That means the spotted ship is visible immediately to the spotting player, 6s of minimap silhouette for teammates before becoming fully visible/target lockable
  • Guaranteed AA damage starts lower, but ramps up over time to very high levels IF AND ONLY IF a squadron is in the Priority AA Sector
    • Gunners "dial in" on a squadron as long as it's in the priority sector, eventually doing very high levels of guaranteed damage
  • The dial-in damage buff resets if the squadron leaves the Priority AA Sector for 6 seconds or more

Here are some examples of how the system solves some of the current big balance problems.


Example Scenario 1: CV attempts to spot solo Shimakaze on the team's flank, using rocket planes
Under the current system: Shimakaze can be permaspotted as long as the CV can dodge flak. Shimakaze can take large amounts of damage after being spotted for only brief periods of time. Lacking DFAA, there is no mechanic for Shimakaze to chase off the airplanes, so is forced to stay close to the fleet or die -- total loss of autonomy.

How it plays out:

Spoiler
  • CV airspots Shimakaze at 3km (AA off)
    • Teammates cannot shoot Shimakaze effectively for 6 seconds
    • Since 0.8.0, planes also cannot airspot torpedoes, so team does not know whether/where Shimakaze has fired torps yet
  • Shimakaze turns AA on, sets priority sector (max range 5km)
    • Flak starts, planes must begin flying evasively
    • Guaranteed AA starts, planes take tiny amounts of damage
  • 6 seconds later...
    • Shimakaze becomes visible to CV's team and can be fired on
    • Shimakaze's guaranteed AA is increased by 6 ticks' worth of "dial in" bonus, and starts to do significant unavoidable damage to planes
  • CV player must now choose:
    • Continue airspotting Shimakaze, and begin taking lethal damage to planes
    • Cease airspotting Shimakaze
      • Must leave range for a full 6 seconds for Shimakaze's AA bonus to reset
      • Coming back to re-light Shimakaze afterward means another 6 second "silhouette" airspotting period
      • Result: Breaking contact creates minimum 12 seconds before Shimakaze can be fired on effectively by teammates
  • If Shimakaze player does not use Priority AA Sector correctly, CV can continue to airspot indefinitely

Result: CV player is forced to make a meaningful choice about spotting DD, Shimakaze has a player-controlled counter to airspotting


Example Scenario 2: CV attempts to attack cluster of ships
Under the current system: Depending on tier and WG's current set of DPS numbers, attacking a cluster of ships is either easy for players who know how to dodge flak (0.8.0) or mathematically impossible without losing all planes (0.8.0.1).

How it plays out:

Spoiler
  • CV enters AA area of multiple ships, begins taking very small amounts of guaranteed damage
    • CV is able to make at least one strike against clustered targets, if all flak is avoided
  • Ships that have Priority AA set will begin to do more damage
  • CV drops first payload ~10 seconds after entering AA envelope
    • Guaranteed AA damage is becoming a threat from ships that have Priority AA set, will result in moderate losses already if too many ships are present
    • If some ships do not have it set, they will still be doing only weak damage
  • After first attack, planes fly overhead
    • Ships must switch their Priority AA Sector to the new angle within 6 seconds or the dial-in damage will reset
    • Switching Priority AA takes more than 6 seconds, so surface ships must do this predictively, not reactively
      • If surface ships do this well, "dial in" damage will be too high to make another attack run against the same cluster of ships without full squadron loss
      • If surface ships fail to switch AA sectors correctly, CV squadron can make another attack with only flak to contend with -- guaranteed damage will be very low
      • Manual AA skill makes this easier by reducing switch times
    • Result: Surface ship use of Priority AA including predictive switching determines how many attacks a CV can safely make
  • CV player may decide to come about for another attack run
    • If he does, he should wait 6 seconds outside the AA bubble to ensure the "dial in" buff resets
      • Result: Strikes are spaced farther apart and feel less like constant harrassment
    • If he decides to make a hard turn and strike again, "dial in" buffs will not have time to reset
      • Result: Increased plane cost of making an aggressive attack run

Result: Surface ships have a player-controlled tool that can significantly increase cost and prevent carriers from making repeated strikes; CV player is able to make at least some strikes against deathballs in exchange for moderate losses (depending on surface ship player skill).


Disclaimers: These would not be the only changes, other things are needed to address spamability of planes and so on. But I think this fixes the three key issues that I see at the heart of the AA system right now.

TL;DR: A ramp-up mechanic on guaranteed AA combined with a 6-second "minimap only" delay on airspotting solves a lot of problems AND makes players feel like they have control of the situation (because they will).

Edited by Edgecase
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So in example 1:  The Shimmy activates his Starboard sector AA.  Meaning no AA to port.  So CV keeps planes to port of Shimmy.  30 seconds zero AA damage minimum.   Shimmy switches sector to port,,, CV moves planes to starboard.   Permaspotting.  No AA damage to planes.  Am I missing something?

And what if he doesn't do sector AA?  How much damage can a Shimmy dish out over 60 seconds, which is way more time than is needed for the CVs team mates to clobber him.  (depending on position of course)

 

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53 minutes ago, SeaborneSumo said:

So in example 1:  The Shimmy activates his Starboard sector AA.  Meaning no AA to port.  So CV keeps planes to port of Shimmy.  30 seconds zero AA damage minimum.   Shimmy switches sector to port,,, CV moves planes to starboard.   Permaspotting.  No AA damage to planes.  Am I missing something?

And what if he doesn't do sector AA?  How much damage can a Shimmy dish out over 60 seconds, which is way more time than is needed for the CVs team mates to clobber him.  (depending on position of course)

If it puts two players in a situation where they're encouraged and able to actively fight for positional advantage, it sounds like a good mechanic to me. The Shimakaze has control over both its own heading and the side that the AA is reinforced on (with a 5s switch time; 4s with Manual AA). Planes aren't UFOs anymore (thankfully) and need space to turn around, plus they can't just fly anywhere they want because the Shima will still put up flak bursts. All in all, I'd say that the CV can do some work, but DD has the advantage in this situation, and that seems like the correct way to go.

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Remove CVs from the game, or remove the ability for CV's to be the sole source of spotting for ships that aren't firing. A shimy should *not* need to stay near the rest of the fleet to avoid being rocketed into mulch. The entire point of a shimy is to operate independently from the fleet,. either to contest caps or to get torp launches into the opposing battle line. *ANY* CV being present makes a Shimy utterly and totally useless, to the point where it would be better for the team to have literally any other ship present, or even *no* ship present whatsoever. In order for the Shimy to have *any* utility whatsoever (or a Yugumo, or any stealth-based torp-oriented DD), CV spotting makes them into something worse than an AFK ship. If a CV can spot those DDs and strike them with rocket planes without any repercussions, it is better for the team to have an AFK ship or even be down a ship compared to a Shimy or similar torp-based DD. 

Like I said, make it so CV's *cannot* be the primary spotters of DD's that aren't firing their main battery guns. The inability of planes to spot torpedoes is irrelevant if the ships that are dependent on torps for their damage are perma-spotted for the entire match, which is what is happening now. I'd be willing to bet that the average DPG of all non-gunboat IJN DDs has dropped by 10k+ in any match featuring a CV. If planes *cannot* be the primary spotters for DDs, then IJN DDs potentially still have a role and function in the meta. Right now, however, they have none whatsoever, as they merely end up as plane food. 

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