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causative

Balance: heavy warships too weak

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Heavy warships/quinquiremes/Juggernauts are ships that deal 30 crush + 30 hack damage per shot, which increases if you garrison catapults.  The problem is, they are useless.  I was recently in a game that proved how weak the heavy warship is - at huge expense I produced a heavy warship with 6 catapults in it, which was able to destroy only a couple of docks before the enemy chariots arrived and forced it to retreat.  It was not able to kill any towers or fortresses, which was my intended purpose of making the catapults and warship.

Here are the stats for Seleucid trireme:

1400 HP, 35 pierce damage per 2 seconds per arrow, armor: 5 hack, 10 pierce, 5 crush, range 55

For a Seleucid heavy warship:

2000 HP, 30 hack + 30 crush per 5 seconds per shot, armor: 5/10/5, range 65

  • Without garrison, they are useless in ship-to-ship combat.  If you garrison a trireme-class ship with 10 civilian soldiers - which you can do in age II, as soon as you make a trireme - it will destroy an empty heavy warship.
  • Producing a garrisoned heavy warship is an incredibly expensive late game luxury.  For Seleucids, 1 heavy warship with 5 catapults in it costs 1950 wood 1750 stone 200 metal.  It is more expensive than two fortresses - approaching the cost of three fortresses - and occupies 18 population.  Plus, catapults require fortresses to produce them.
  • For ship-to-ship combat, a garrisoned heavy warship will not necessarily beat a garrisoned trireme, in addition to the crazy expense.  The trireme with 10 citizen-soldiers deals 35/2*13 = 227 pierce damage per second, which is 80 damage per second after ship armor.  The heavy warship with 5 catapults deals 30/5*6 = 36 hack plus 36 crush damage per second, which is 43 damage per second after ship armor.  Even though the garrisoned heavy warship has more HP, it only deals about half as much damage.
  • Against buildings, pierce damage is negligible due to armor.  That 36 hack + 36 crush damage per second, reduced by a fortress's 15 hack armor and 2 crush armor, comes out to 36.5 damage per second.  At this rate it would take about 2 minutes to take down a 4200 HP fortress with the heavy warship.  This rate is comparable to two single catapults not on a ship.  It is very slow, giving the opponent plenty of time to react, or simply to repair the fortress.  At 4.2 HP/second/worker, nine repairing workers would be sufficient to prevent the fortress from losing HP.

Now consider, as another form of naval siege, a Briton medium warship with 5 battering rams in it.  They could unload on the shore and kill the same fortress in roughly 10 seconds (4200 damage / 500 damage per second), plus the time it takes the rams to maneuver into position, which doesn't take long if the fortress is on the shore.  Cost:  1900 wood 1150 metal.

So what change could balance the heavy warship?  Let's operate under the premise that it ought to be at least good for naval siege.  For this, have 100 crush damage per shot instead of 30, and have 10 pierce damage instead of 30 hack damage.  The catapults do 100 crush and 10 pierce damage while not in the ship if they aren't upgraded, so shouldn't they do the same damage while in the ship?  At this rate, it would take about 43 seconds to destroy the fortress.  That's still slower than unloading rams, but it's maybe in the right area.  I calculate that if the heavy warship has both armor upgrades (so 16 pierce armor) and the fortress is shooting 23 arrows, it would kill the heavy warship in about 48 seconds, which is good because it means the garrisoned heavy warship would kill the fortress before the fortress kills the garrisoned heavy warship.

Edited by causative
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Range of tower and fortress is a problem. Catapults (and heavy warships) should simply outrange the towers and foreesses.

 

Would that help you? Also, yeah, heavy warship should have higehr base attack.

 

I was think of going the Age of Empire way and making the ships a upgrade procession: Light -> Medium -> Heavy

Edited by wowgetoffyourcellphone
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Yeah, of course if catapults and heavy warships significantly outranged towers and forts, that would also solve the problem.

If light-medium-heavy ships were an upgrade progression, IMO the heavier ships ought to also cost more, to be realistic, but have good enough stats to be worth it.  The concern is that civs without heavy warships might just lose control of the sea to civs that do have heavy warships.  To keep that from happening too early in the game, the upgrades could be slow and/or expensive, and the benefits only incremental rather than overwhelming.

Although right now, sea dominance is backwards.  Celts and Iberians - historically relatively primitive people, around 0 A.D. - have the best navies.  Briton medium warships have more HP and carry more troops than triremes.  Iberian fire ships are cheap and effective.  The supposedly "naval" civs with heavy warships - Ptolemies, Carthaginians, Romans, and Seleucids - are actually no better than average at sea.

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There is also the issue of historical accuracy.  Ships did not carry catapults heavy enough to smash fortifications so a "siege ship" of this type is not historically accurate.  (There was one kind of siege ship - the Sambuca.  This was a ship that carried a siege ladder for climbing the walls of seaside fortresses).

However, 0ad naval combat is currently historically inaccurate, so I think a "siege ship" is allowable.  Ancient naval combat was primarily based around two actions, ramming and boarding, neither of which are in the game 0ad (yet).  Ships did shoot arrows and catapult stones at each other - as they do in the game 0ad - but this was mostly just harassment and did not deal enough damage to be decisive in ship-to-ship combat.

Ramming was done with relatively light triremes, but although they were light ships, this apparently was very effective and required highly skilled crews.   The Athenians focused on a ramming navy, with only small amounts of marines to defend against boarding - e.g. 20 marines.   Coordinating a trireme crew to ram effectively was technically demanding, and less established naval powers could not do it well.

Boarding was apparently easier to coordinate, and required larger but slower ships such as Quinquiremes, which carried a much larger number of marines for boarding - e.g. 100 marines.  These larger ships were obviously more expensive, but did not require as skilled a crew.  The Spartans used this strategy against the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War, which in the end was successful.

Over time it appears the general progression was in favor of the larger ships.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenistic-era_warships

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trireme#Tactics

Edited by causative

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3 hours ago, causative said:

Ships did not carry catapults heavy enough to smash fortifications so a "siege ship" of this type is not historically accurate.

Do you have a source for that claim? I can see multiple mentions of supergalleys being able to carry catapults. F.e. on the wikipedia article about the Tessakonteres. I don't have the original source for it, but at least it has a citation, so I guess there's some truth in it.

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They carried catapults, but apparently not very heavy ones.  Note that the Tessakonteres was not a realistic warship; the article you linked quotes Plutarch as saying "But this ship was merely for show; and since she differed little from a stationary edifice on land, being meant for exhibition and not for use, she was moved only with difficulty and danger."

I'm mostly going from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trireme#Tactics where it states "Artillery in the form of ballistas and catapults was widespread, especially in later centuries, but its inherent technical limitations meant that it could not play a decisive role in combat."

I don't think the ancient Greeks had many very heavy catapults.  The impression I get from reading about ancient sieges is that catapults were primarily anti-personnel weapons.   Usually other techniques were used against the walls (rams, mining, ladders, siege towers, starvation, traitors on the inside).  For a naval example:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenistic-era_warships#Armament_and_tactics "It was easy to mount catapults on galleys; Alexander the Great had used them to considerable effect when he besieged Tyre from the sea in 332 BC. The catapults did not aim to sink the enemy galleys, but rather to injure or kill the rowers."

(Other examples:  the siege of Athens by Sparta, and the siege of Syracuse by the Romans.  These were both years-long, incredibly costly sieges, which means the attackers had plenty of time and resources to acquire whatever catapults were available.  Despite that, catapults were used against personnel but not used to smash down the walls, which leads to the conclusion that the attackers didn't have catapults capable of doing so).

So shipborne catapults were used, but primarily against rowers and marines, not to sink ships or smash down walls.  This fits with the narrative from the linked articles that ancient naval battles were focused around ramming and boarding.

Edited by causative

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Walls were never really smashed down. Rams were operated on gates normally, or walls were mounted with ladders or by constructing an earth ramp. Meanwile, catapults were used during a siege, together with flaming arrows, to cause damage in the city and force soldiers to take care of other stuff instead of defending the walls.

But, as realistic siege would make the gameplay too slow, that can't be implemented. So our catapults can take down walls to emulate them being siege weapons, and the same would hold for ships: if they could be used to siege cities (keep cities under ballista fire), then the translation of that to 0 A.D. gameplay should be that the ships can take down walls.

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Sure, that works.  In that case I would say the heavy warship should deal 100 crush damage per shot to be useful as siege.

There is another option for catapult siege in 0ad - rather than have the catapult destroy the building or ship directly, it could damage the units garrisoned inside.  Also, since catapults were primarily anti-personnel weapons, they could be made more effective against units outside of garrison.  Shorter travel times for catapult projectiles (catapult projectiles really should move faster than arrows) and splash damage would make them more effective.

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Catapults have splash damage, but they have been nerfed a bit, as it was sometimes annoying that a catapult would pick a new target, and fire at some spot that was very close the the own units, and thus kill the own units with it.

For catapults to work better, we should probably first have focus-fire, so a way to command catapults and other units to fire at an area rather than at a single target.

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I edited the topic because my initial analysis was slightly inaccurate - heavy warships deal 30 hack 30 crush damage per shot, not 30 pierce 30 crush.  I also didn't account for the fortress's crush armor.  After accounting for both those things, the analysis comes out about the same.

There is an issue with setting the damage to 100 crush 10 pierce that I didn't think of.  Namely, a heavy warship costs 200 wood 200 metal, which is cheaper than a catapult (which costs 350 wood 350 stone).  If the warship does the same damage as a catapult and is cheaper, then there is little reason to garrison catapults on the warships; better to simply make more empty warships.

In my opinion, catapults are too expensive, considering that you need a large number of them (at least 3 or 4) or else the defender can simply repair faster than you can damage, and considering how easy they are to destroy.  If they were half the price - 175 wood 175 stone - that might be a better balance.

But assuming we aren't changing the price of catapults, I think it is necessary to increase the price of the heavy warship to be more than a catapult.  For example, 350 wood 200 metal 350 stone, which is the price of a catapult plus 200 metal.  This is unfortunately a nerf to heavy warships.

There is an alternative:  reduce the base number of shots of the heavy warship.  For example, it could fire 0 shots until garrisoned with catapults.  Alternatively, it could fire 1 shot that does 50 crush damage, and each garrisoned catapult increases the number of shots by 2.  What do you think is best?

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i still think war ships could be reworked. they are quite buggy and the naval combat is really really boring. there is just 1 arrow being shot by an invisible guys from the front of the boat. it could be way more interesting to see garrisoned units on the boat shooting. 

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On 6/18/2016 at 3:37 AM, causative said:

There is an alternative:  reduce the base number of shots of the heavy warship.  For example, it could fire 0 shots until garrisoned with catapults.  Alternatively, it could fire 1 shot that does 50 crush damage, and each garrisoned catapult increases the number of shots by 2.  What do you think is best?

IMHO, commit the VisibleGarrisonAllowedClass patch. Differentiate siege weapon (bolt shooter vs. catapult) by allow bolt shooters to show up on deck of ships and on fortress and towers. Catapult relegate to anti-building role, while bolt shooters have role of augmenting other thing. Maybe have upgrade for heavy warship to allow catapult to show up on deck (just 1, in front).

Edited by wowgetoffyourcellphone

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I am picking this up because of a recent game i played.

playing ptolemies against seleucids or carthage (not sure anymore, he had ele's and chariots) i an multiplayer game on a naval map (all players on different islands). One of my opponents fortified all of his coast in all the places where one might land units (walls, behind them towers and fortresses). Lots of archers and chariots for defence.

I built several of the large catapult ships available to the ptolemies, meaning to break the defences in one spot to permit landing. But apparently the archers are outranging catapult ships (even when standing behind the walls, it seems).

Of course one can play with rules and say walls are forbidden, but balancing-wise that's still an issue - those catapult/siege ships should be able to outrange landbased defenses, including archers. If you can't clear out a landing spot, its (nigh-)impossible to break the defense. I've tried several times with ships + eles + hero + soldiers (then again I am not a very good players but still...). When there is only very limited space to land units (because of the inability to make space by destroying defenses), you are forced to land your units in a trickle and the enemy can pick them off 1 by 1.

For the overall gameplay, i do not see this creating other balancing issues (like for example the whole skirmish cav discussion), and it seems reasonably easy to change (I admit I have no clue about the technical aspects of programming ;)).

Long story short: I think for balancing purposes the range of heavy warships with siege weapons should be increased to a level that is beyond any other unit or building, with the exception of catapults...

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