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General feedback on naval combat


SweatyPenguin
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A public opinion test  

17 members have voted

  1. 1. Are you happy with the current amount of crew casualties caused by cannon fire?

    • Yes
      11
    • No
      6


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Hi, 

I recently bought into the EA, following the release of the british campaign, skimming through most of it, but I did play the first mission to the death trying to get the feel for naval combat. As for the experience I am basing this feedback on, I played both UG games, but more importantly I played Naval Action going all the way back to the Sea Trials. Also, unsurprisingly, I am a military history nerd. But to the point.

1) Sailing I find the current implementation of sailing more than servicable. So much so that I do in fact have only major issue with it and that's the ships inertia, changing sail is nearly instant, on which point alright, fine, but the change feels far too quick to affect the ship. Shortening sail from full to almost none will make the ship stop on a dime, and that just doesn't sit right with me. That is, however, a debate on arcade vs sim and I don't know how far you intend to go in either direction, so I am simply gving feedback, hoping to hear back for future reference. Minor annoyances include lack of control over which sails are actually being set (I would at the very least love to see a dedicated option for combat sail and an option to shorten all topsail to reduce list due to wind effects) and the inexplicable enthusiasm of the AI to get itself stranded in the wind.

 

2) Combat Now I am regrettably not a happy camper in regards to this one. I am impressed by the mechanics regarding ranges and pentration, little can be done to improve that, accuracy of the gunners gets the job done, though at times I find them perhaps too good at their job. Particularly at range. Using Richmond as measure, at a range of 5 or more ships length, absolute majority of the 18 pounders will remain dead on target, which I don't find particularly realistic, considering the size of the ships involved and the level of experience of their crews. My main concern though, lies with the damage model. Like I said, I played the first mission to the death, I tested every angle, every range, every type of shot.

First of all what kind of mythical heroes am I playing against here? I have the enemy sloop to my leeward, he's stranded in the wind, armour stripped, I am raking him bow to stern, he lost his mizzenmast, most of his guns, is taking on water and yet he will not strike. While I certainly applaud his bravery, it just seems a little too much. Is this an intentional mechanic to force players into aggressive boarding actions rather than playing it safe with a ranged engagement as a tactic for capturing enemy ships? If so I am certainly no fan of it. If not, it needs significant adjustment. If a ship takes a broadside that shaves away over a quarter of her armour hitpoints, I certainly don't want to see her just sit there and take 8 more like it. More work on the morale meter perhaps, reflecting the overall state of the ship, her crew, her sails and her armamament, as well as the time period in which this damage was dealt to her. Perhaps not to make her outright strike, but to make her susceptible to do so, ie. half-hearted defence of a boarding action, striking after suffering another artillery shock, or striking when suffering further critical damage (losing a mast, taking on water, rudder etc.) In any case, I shouldn't feel like the more predictable result of a gunnery duel is blowing the enemy up rather then surrendering him.

Which gets me to, i suppose hitboxes? Or more accurately on hit effects? Now the first hits simply stripping planking I understand, a game mechanic, a good one, it works, I like it. But when the armour chips away there follows a mess. The effect of round shot on ships components is somewhat satisfactory. The damage reflects the angles of impact well and I can say that when I did feel like I've managed a good broadside, I also felt like I was adequately rewarded with good damage. To the ship. The crews, on the other hand, appear to be bulletproof. I'm not expecting to be killing dozens here, but when I pull of a very steeply angled shot, all but raking the enemy ship, with the shot actually going out the other side, so clearly fully penetrating, well when such a broadside takes 5 guns and only 4 enemy crewmembers... something ain't right. When another broadside smashes into the enemy on his uproll, below the waterline, blows a water pump, hits ammo stores, hits a mast, takes out two guns and takes out one crewman, that's just plain wrong. I can take my ship yardarm to yardarm with the battered and now unarmoured AI, load canister, and blast it in from so close his men might as well lean over to try and snuff the fuse, and when that barrage kills a grand total of 0-3 men, something clearly needs to change. This was not a one off. I did this multiple times, tested out different ranges and angles too, different states of armour. The results were always identical. No more than 6 men killed, quite often none. Canister is in fact so ineffective, that the musket fire from the on-board marines does multiple times more damage to crews, and not just over time, but per volley. At point blank ranges, being blasted through with 12 pounders, I would expect the men on those sloops to drop in double digit numbers. Perhaps this is something you deem too extreme for the purpose of the game, in which case I would have to disaggree, perhaps this is something that plays out far smoother on larger ships I have yet to test. At any rate, during my tests in the first battle, these mechanics felt entirely out of tune.

 

3) Land Combat I haven't done enough of it to comment on mechanics, but one thing I will say is, can we please have more music? Meaning pipes sounding orders, drums for marching, more marching songs... and so on and so forth. I know you already have it present to a degree, but I would like to see it more pronounced over the sound effects ie. the sound of footsteps feels far too loud in comparison to the drum etc.

 

That's about all I have now. I suppose I'll be making more posts as I progress.

Edited by SweatyPenguin
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This could reflect the relatively small size of the guns, I feel it does scale up and I've certainly had 100+ casualties on a ship from cannon fire. The enemy also strikes their colours before sinking (more often than not) but this seems to be influenced by proximity. I never use grape shot except during the boarding/grappling stage. 

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1 minute ago, Afghanicus said:

This could reflect the relatively small size of the guns, I feel it does scale up and I've certainly had 100+ casualties on a ship from cannon fire. The enemy also strikes their colours before sinking (more often than not) but this seems to be influenced by proximity. I never use grape shot except during the boarding/grappling stage. 

I had similar thoughts, but I did try the canister out at any situation I could think off. For 20 guns at point blank range to cause 3 casaulties is simply unacceptable regardless of calibre. Point blank talking yardarm to yardarm, boarding distance, with the enemy completely stripped of armour. Not to mention the effects were the same almost regardless of range. I would cause the same number of casualties at musket shot, as I did outside of it. Cannot possibly be correct. The ratios are also off. The men will be clustered around the guns servicing them. So if I rake the ship and take 5 guns yet somehow only 4 crew, then those numbers simply cannot be correct, again, regardless of the calibre of shot fired.

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One thing I have noticed with units surrendering is that the ai will typically be more likely to surrender when they are fully surrounded by your ships sitting their completely destroying them. Personally, I think the current system work fine give or take some minor balance tuning.

On the other hand, I totally agree that grape shot seemingly does nothing even when completely stripping the armor of the other ship. However, at the same time, making each broadside especially in close quarters killing 20-30 men might be quite overpowered especially against lower tier ships. Really I think that it needs a buff but possible around 10-15 unless you get a super lucky roll in addition to an already crippled and overpowered ship.

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@SweatyPenguin Canister does seem relatively ineffective. I've usually found it's more useful to just use solid shot. Even if the crew casualties listed are low the morale damage seems to be quite high leading to either outright surrenders or easy boarding situations. For killing crew directly I've found it far more effective to bring multiple ships into musket range and let the crews blast away. Seems a bit too effective really.

The one reason I do use canister currently is that one of the devs mentioned that it can't start fires so I'll switch over at the last second when boarding in hopes of not getting unlucky and having everything explode.

Am I following your points correctly that the two main concerns you have is that crew kills are hard to get with cannon fire and that AI ships should surrender sooner when their masts are down?

 

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9 hours ago, WilliamTheIII said:

One thing I have noticed with units surrendering is that the ai will typically be more likely to surrender when they are fully surrounded by your ships sitting their completely destroying them. Personally, I think the current system work fine give or take some minor balance tuning.

On the other hand, I totally agree that grape shot seemingly does nothing even when completely stripping the armor of the other ship. However, at the same time, making each broadside especially in close quarters killing 20-30 men might be quite overpowered especially against lower tier ships. Really I think that it needs a buff but possible around 10-15 unless you get a super lucky roll in addition to an already crippled and overpowered ship.

That is what I would expect, but it does not seem to work that way well enough. Perhaps a 2 on 1 is not sufficently bad odds? It ought to be when one has an overwhelming advantage in firepower. A fight must be had, I don't dispute that for a second, but not every fight should be ended either by death or boarding. The lack of clarity in this is what irks me most. I know it is possible to surrender the enemy simply on damage dealt, but why? When? A game needs clearly defined mechanics, I should be able to say with a reasonable degree of certainty at which point and after which criteria I can force a a ship to strike. I did hours of this and it all just felt far too random.

Oh gosh, no killing 20-30 man on these smaller ships is out of the question. But what would like to see would the reduction of effectivness of canister to about the musket range and a buff on the deadliness within it, and perhaps some heavier morale effects and debuffs. Say in my ideal world, if I close to point blank and fire canister right before boarding, I would like to see said boarding be more effective due to larger initial shock... Stuff like that. A weapon of opportunity, not something you can just spam and reliably de-crew ships with.

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1 hour ago, pandakraut said:

@SweatyPenguin Canister does seem relatively ineffective. I've usually found it's more useful to just use solid shot. Even if the crew casualties listed are low the morale damage seems to be quite high leading to either outright surrenders or easy boarding situations. For killing crew directly I've found it far more effective to bring multiple ships into musket range and let the crews blast away. Seems a bit too effective really.

The one reason I do use canister currently is that one of the devs mentioned that it can't start fires so I'll switch over at the last second when boarding in hopes of not getting unlucky and having everything explode.

Am I following your points correctly that the two main concerns you have is that crew kills are hard to get with cannon fire and that AI ships should surrender sooner when their masts are down?

 

I'll happily aggree with that, either muskets are overperforming or canister underperforming, in my opinion a combination of both.

That is exactly the kind of use I would like to see for it, a close range weapon of opportunity, not a spammable tool for turning ships into ghost towns.

Yes, I think crew casualties from both round shot and canister are severely undertuned, I have seen close range broadsides actually go through the ship, with 12 hits or more, causing massive damages to armour, but for something like this to not take down a single crewman, that just doesn't sit right. Occassionaly the AI would score some kind of critical, I assume a hit right into the gunports, because the shot appeared to hit the hull, dealt no armour dmg, but always killed exactly 3 crewmen. For this to happen, while a full 14 gun broadside misses everyone, that just seems entirely out of tune.

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@pandakraut Realized I didn't actually finish my answer.

Quote

and that AI ships should surrender sooner when their masts are down?

Not specifically related to masts. But I think the sum total of damage suffered should have more pronounced influence on the willingness of a ship to surrender. I would like it to sort of add up to a point where I can actually know for certain that if a ships icon is flashing white, the next artillery/rigging shock will push them over the edge. Or that their capability of defending a boarding will be significantly diminished, allowing the ship to be taken even by equal numbers with a favourable ratio of casualties... etc.

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Yea, I think ships should surrender easier. They soak wayyy to much damage and crews damage by cannons are underpowered. Some musket fire can kill 5-10 crews depending on the amount of crews. Yet a good broadside by canister can barely get past 10 casualties. We should be able to capture bigger ships with smaller ships by taking out masses, causing mass casualties and shouldn't just by only surrounding the ship with 3-4 other ships.

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Well smaller ships can take over larger ships quite easily. In fact, there are a couple people in the discord who want to see it nerfed a little. 

Also thanks for the pictures. I do feel at that point they should be more willing to surrender but not all the time as to stop you from getting every ship as soon as it gets on low health. 

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No, not all the time. There absolutely needs to be a degree of neccessary aggression and risk associated with capturing ships. Perhaps that is why the devs have so heavily tied it to proximity of enemies. I just want to see it more transparent and consistent. Does not mean there cannot be RNG in it, some ships can be easier, some harder, some can still simply fight to death regardless. But I want to see into it. I want to know for certain, that if a ships flag is flashing and another broadside still did not do the trick, I have to close and take him by boarding or risk sinking him. To be able to reliably make that gameplay decision based on clear criteria. Currently a ship that clearly should surrender does not, and a ship you wouldn't have expected to suddenly strikes.

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^This. Yea, the thing is consistency. I had a ship going from not flashing unit card, seemingly doing well against my 3 smaller ships, and then suddenly, surrender for no reason??? It could have ran if it felt being surrounded since it's a 4th rate against my 5th and 6th rates. But... it surrendered. At other times, I blasted a 4th rate to ****, 1 side armor is nearly gone, blasted multiple broadside into the back, taking in water and still fighting. Sure, ships shouldn't always surrender, but it should be more consistent. Right now, I feel like the RNG just make me want to Esc --> Restart since making one mistake can basically means my smaller ship get blasted with a full broadside and lost most fighting capabilities or the ship I want to capture fights to the death.

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/16/2019 at 8:17 PM, SweatyPenguin said:

First of all what kind of mythical heroes am I playing against here? I have the enemy sloop to my leeward, he's stranded in the wind, armour stripped, I am raking him bow to stern, he lost his mizzenmast, most of his guns, is taking on water and yet he will not strike. While I certainly applaud his bravery, it just seems a little too much. Is this an intentional mechanic to force players into aggressive boarding actions rather than playing it safe with a ranged engagement as a tactic for capturing enemy ships? If so I am certainly no fan of it. If not, it needs significant adjustment. If a ship takes a broadside that shaves away over a quarter of her armour hitpoints, I certainly don't want to see her just sit there and take 8 more like it. More work on the morale meter perhaps, reflecting the overall state of the ship, her crew, her sails and her armamament, as well as the time period in which this damage was dealt to her. Perhaps not to make her outright strike, but to make her susceptible to do so, ie. half-hearted defence of a boarding action, striking after suffering another artillery shock, or striking when suffering further critical damage (losing a mast, taking on water, rudder etc.) In any case, I shouldn't feel like the more predictable result of a gunnery duel is blowing the enemy up rather then surrendering him.

Which gets me to, i suppose hitboxes? Or more accurately on hit effects? Now the first hits simply stripping planking I understand, a game mechanic, a good one, it works, I like it. But when the armour chips away there follows a mess. The effect of round shot on ships components is somewhat satisfactory. The damage reflects the angles of impact well and I can say that when I did feel like I've managed a good broadside, I also felt like I was adequately rewarded with good damage. To the ship. The crews, on the other hand, appear to be bulletproof. I'm not expecting to be killing dozens here, but when I pull of a very steeply angled shot, all but raking the enemy ship, with the shot actually going out the other side, so clearly fully penetrating, well when such a broadside takes 5 guns and only 4 enemy crewmembers... something ain't right. When another broadside smashes into the enemy on his uproll, below the waterline, blows a water pump, hits ammo stores, hits a mast, takes out two guns and takes out one crewman, that's just plain wrong. I can take my ship yardarm to yardarm with the battered and now unarmoured AI, load canister, and blast it in from so close his men might as well lean over to try and snuff the fuse, and when that barrage kills a grand total of 0-3 men, something clearly needs to change. This was not a one off. I did this multiple times, tested out different ranges and angles too, different states of armour. The results were always identical. No more than 6 men killed, quite often none. Canister is in fact so ineffective, that the musket fire from the on-board marines does multiple times more damage to crews, and not just over time, but per volley. At point blank ranges, being blasted through with 12 pounders, I would expect the men on those sloops to drop in double digit numbers. Perhaps this is something you deem too extreme for the purpose of the game, in which case I would have to disaggree, perhaps this is something that plays out far smoother on larger ships I have yet to test. At any rate, during my tests in the first battle, these mechanics felt entirely out of tune.

I agree wholeheartedly. I hope the devs are listening to this feedback because if the combat balance is in this state when it goes to Early Access on Steam it is likely to harm their Steam Rating quite badly.

Challenging is good, as long as you give the player an option to play it on true "Easy Mode."


My suggestion: change the values of whatever parameters are giving the computer opponent this ridiculous resiliency to about 2/3 or 5/8 of their present values: Make that "Easy Mode."

Make "Normal Mode" at about 4/5 of current values.

Make "Challenging Mode" at current values.

And then whatever for the masochistic difficulties beyond that . . .

The point you make about grape shot is abundantly clear to me: it is clearly LESS effective than musket fire and that doesn't jibe with my understanding of these weapon systems. I also think that the Computer Opponents musket fire is slightly more effective than players.

Edited by Anthropoid
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