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Old June 19, 2010, 01:37   #1
fizzix
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Playing with nerfed archery, missile rebalance

tl;dr version: Having archery damage at 400/turn is good enough to win.

full version:

I just completed a game as an elf ranger with nerfed archery. The dump is here:

http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=10314

Before this I played a normal game, and the dump is here:

http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=10301

I try to take decent notes while playing using the : command, so reading through the history should give somewhat of an account to how things progressed in both games.

The changes I made were as follows:

All ammo has to_dam value forced at +0 (except wounding, but that was a bug, it didn't matter)
Ranger's extra shots with bows are changed to extra might
All extra shots removed from weapons and randarts.

With a decent launcher and branded seeker ammo, I would get about 450 damage per missile (at 1 shot per turn). This was good enough to take down all the high uniques.

I picked up a very good randart bow at the end that allowed me to get 400 damage with seeker arrows of slay evil. That was enough to take down both Morgoth and Sauron. Also, that bow gave me 750 damage per missile per turn with slay undead seeker arrows, which made Cantoras a joke. Before that I was using a x5 xbow and would brand seeker bolts and I used those to take down most of the other high uniques, except for one or two whom I meleed. At the very least, reducing the to_dam values to 0 does not make archery too weak, it still is very strong. Alternatively, reducing the damage bonus for brands would save the same purpose.

In the benchmark game I happened to pick up a lothlorien bow and a randart with +1 shooting speed, giving me 4 shots a turn with a x5 bow. Everything was a joke after that. I could do something like 2000 points a turn with branded ammo. That's broken in my mind.

Anyway, I think if we're thinking about rebalancing missiles I think we should be looking at something like 300-400 max damage per single shot turn with low multiplier brands (slay evil, animal) and 400-500 max damage per single shot turn with high multiplier brands (everything else). Holy might can still be obscenely strong, they're rare enough. I don't know how to best incorporate extra shots besides just making them very rare.
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Old June 19, 2010, 05:39   #2
Atarlost
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I like the diversity of shots and might.

My preferred solution is to make each might +.5x instead of +1x That would make slings and short bows 1.5x, longbows and light crossbows 2x, and a heavy crossbow of harad with +2 to might 3.5x. Making that only apply to base dice like a melee brand should cut damage enough.

Finish off by reducing the dice on seeker ammo or removing it entirely.
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Old June 19, 2010, 07:08   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atarlost View Post
I like the diversity of shots and might.

My preferred solution is to make each might +.5x instead of +1x That would make slings and short bows 1.5x, longbows and light crossbows 2x, and a heavy crossbow of harad with +2 to might 3.5x. Making that only apply to base dice like a melee brand should cut damage enough.

Finish off by reducing the dice on seeker ammo or removing it entirely.
I figure the easiest way to nerf archery is to make multipliers add.
So an x5 launcher with x3 branded ammo does x8 damage (not x15).

This means that the value of branded ammo is still quite high in the early game (when you have an x3 launcher), but generally goes down as the game progresses.
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Old June 19, 2010, 08:10   #4
ewert
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Extra shots is and will always be near impossible to balance properly if the baseline is 1shot/rnd. Changing them to +might is a much more feasible balancing situation. I'm sure there are enough math geeks here who also have experience balancing games (I've been a coder in a couple of MUDs) who understand this to be so.

Same goes for melee but not as badly as there already is some baseline hits/rnd. But having +attacks around unbalances the situation so that warriors lose their melee edge vs. non-warriors, meaning the direction is wrong balance-wise. +extra attacks into +extra base dmg (as in might, or "slay everything a bit more") wanted.
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Old June 19, 2010, 08:14   #5
ewert
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As for the other changes fizzix tried, that's interesting. Having just arrows of xxx and no +dmg on anything, only +hit scores sounds like a nice way to balance the damage. And I agree that anything 400+ dmg is enough. Melee does it that way (80/hit x 5, minus misses for example) and they risk themselves with melee in return, ranged should not do more damage. How much was mages mana ball or whatever it was now? 350 and not 0% ever?
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Old June 19, 2010, 09:13   #6
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Once we move to a fractional blows system, extra blows could be changed into a percentage reduction in attack time; this would be of greater benefit to characters that already have fast attacks (i.e. warriors) and significantly lesser benefit to characters with slow attacks. For example, a warrior with 5 blows/round is using 20 energy per blow. If he finds a weapon that increases his attack speed by 1.3x, then he's using ~15 energy/blow for 6.5 blows/round. A mage with a base attack of 70 energy/round and the same weapon would drop to 53 energy/round, going from ~1.4 blows/round to ~1.9 blows/round.

I agree that extra shots as currently coded are basically impossible to balance. The first one is functionally equivalent to a 2x multiplier on the number of melee blows you get. We should explicitly move shooting speed to an energy-based system and make the extra shots multipliers be on the order of 1.1-1.3 instead.
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Old June 19, 2010, 11:44   #7
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There are couple of things I find troublesome with fractional blows.

1. Do we break the player round when monster dies? If not, then it is merely another +dmg option (instead of +might, which would again improve the value of heavy weapons with high base dice). Personally I do not find yet another +dmg source anything that worthwhile to spend so much energy on that going to fractional blows in the code will take. In-game there already is "fractional" blows, the stat is +speed.

2. If we do break player turn when monster dies, then we give a big boost to player power vs. monster groups, and also we make magic damage again have another downside compared to melee / ranged (if it has multiple shots). That is, always taking a full round even if it is "1%" of spelldmg needed to kill a monster in a group.

3. While fractional blows does change the current "jump to one more hit" powercurve, if it works such as "2 hits this round, 3 the next, then 2 again", then again, is this wanted? Lots of melee people equipment strategy at the moment at low/mid levels is much about maximizing your hits. It could even be argued that going to fractional blows will make the early game very easy with melee, as before only spesific race/class combos could aim for 2+ blows, now anyone could get 1.8 or so. Current +dmg mechanism makes this a lot more powerful than one might think at first. Think 80% more powerful ...

Personally, I'd go with just +might for both melee and ranged and remove extra shots altogether. Melee with +basedice and normal might for ranged (with maybe fizzix's tested missiles with no bonuses for dmg).
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Old June 19, 2010, 15:39   #8
fizzix
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The changes I made weren't necessarily proposed changes to Vanilla. Rather they were just the easiest way I could think of to drop damage output. (And I was capable of coding it with my meager skills) The reason extra shots was removed was because I couldn't find an implementable way of keeping it and balancing it.

Fractional shots as Derakon describes would probably be useful, and I think should be the approach we pursue. It does still have the problem of giving extra turns to archers as ewert points out. However, I'd rather see a 'reduce casting time' skill added than extra shots completely removed.

Reducing missile or launcher damage, reducing brand damage, and changing brands to additive are all acceptable. I don't have any preference for one over the other. The main point is to calculate how much damage you will be doing with an endgame launcher and (x3) branded seeker missiles, and get that down below 600. (Umbar and the Haradrim shield throws this off, but these things should be ringil or doomcaller rare.) Then figure out whether the approach works for the early and midgame as well.

Reducing missile to-dam did not affect the early game at all. It had some effect on the midgame, but missiles were still my preferred weapon. Especially wielding two rings of escaping. With the addition of the quiver, and the fact that you can carry branded ammo for all different occasions, you'd be amazed how much damage you can cut from archery and still have it viable.

Lastly, archery *should* be powerful, because it's tedious. Hunting for ammo and retrieving it are annoying, and if melee is much more powerful than archery, it won't be worth it. In fact, tracking archery damage per turn with expected melee damage is probably a reasonable approach. The advantage of fighting from a distance is counteracted by the annoyance of it.
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Old June 19, 2010, 16:37   #9
Timo Pietilä
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Lastly, archery *should* be powerful
I agree, however access to branded ammunition is now too easy. Just remove ammo branding. Remove most brands from ammunition, especially acid. Make general store have at max 20 ammo of each kind.

That should do it. In old versions ammo slays/brands were not unbalanced because there were no ammo branding, brands were only cold and fire for ammunition, no "holy might" and all other *3 slays are specialized ammunition that affect only some monster class.

Rangers just didn't have unlimited supply of branded ammo like they have now. Hell, they didn't have unlimited supply of ammunition, period. The few ammunition they did have used precious inventory space, so inventory management was an yet another balancing factor.
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Old June 19, 2010, 17:11   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilä View Post
I agree, however access to branded ammunition is now too easy. Just remove ammo branding. Remove most brands from ammunition, especially acid. Make general store have at max 20 ammo of each kind.
And how we are supposed to do ranged damage in the early game, before all this unbalancing stuff shows up? 20 missiles is not enough for a single trip to the dungeon, and ammo drops are not nearly as often.
Making elemental brand spell unavailable for rangers is probably a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilä View Post
That should do it. In old versions ammo slays/brands were not unbalanced because there were no ammo branding, brands were only cold and fire for ammunition, no "holy might" and all other *3 slays are specialized ammunition that affect only some monster class.
I disagree. Make ego missiles rarer, make stacks smaller, change slay modifiers to additive, but don't remove them altogether. Actually, I think additive modifiers are more than enough.
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