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Old December 1, 2009, 10:01   #1
Timo Pietilš
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Missile weapons overpowered or not

I'd like to start a philosophical discussion about missile weapon power.

I think current maintainer or at least developers think that missile weapons are overpowered. I don't agree. There is one special case and that is Ranger.

After all bows/slings/xbows are very deadly if they can hit you, just like in reality. Three arrows to the body of a man/orc/whatever kills it just as likely as three partially blocked blows from a sword in melee. Melee should be stronger, but not much stronger, and that is what the case is now.

I think missile weapons are good as they are if we:

a) remove overpowered slings of buckland (or make it an artifact)
b) remove many ego-ammunition types (ego-ammunition is what makes bow really powerful, this is what "old days" used to be, not many ego-types there, so no issue in overpowered missiles either)
c) remove ammo branding in spells.
d) new one: either make shooting at point blank very very difficult or disallow it completely.


b2) in old days brands contained only fire, electricity and cold. Acid and poison didn't exist. We could remove acid-brand from ammunition. In fact I would remove it from melee-weapons too (Sauron). There were no "holy might" ammo, so that should go too.

About Ranger:

Ranger is special case and should remain so. Because ranger is very good with bows I recommend tweaking other aspects of ranger. I think ranger and rogue spell lists should be swapped, with minor tweaks in detection where rogue should remain better. Ranger should be closer to warrior than rogue IMO.
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Old December 1, 2009, 12:04   #2
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I think they are overpowered from a gameplay point of view, because you can do almost as much damage as melee, without having to worry about the effects of monsters getting close ie. reduce stat, reduce exp, drain charges etc. etc.

To balance ranged weapons with melee you really need to either reduce their damage output or give more monsters the ability to do those things from a distance and also reduce the chances of them doing so when you are up close (so they melee you instead).

Another advantage with ranged weapons is that an extra shot can double the damage that you deal each turn. It can also mean that you can shoot once and move/heal/escape as well, which isn't possible with melee.

Also I like the newer brands of ammo/weapon that you get because it creates more interesting choices about what to keep. After all each different ammo type takes a different slot in your inventory.

If the newer brands make the game too easy then I'd rather see the game made harder in other ways rather than reduce the possible strategic choices.

Another way in which ranged weapons are overpowered is that they can do much more damage than the best magic devices. Good magic devices seem only to do around 125 damage at a push. This means that it is better for mages to use a ranged weapon than say a rod of acid bolts in many situations, which somehow doesn't seem right.

PS If we're going to have quivers then I would suggest that having two or more types of ammo in a quiver reduces that slots maximum capacity by a significant amount (maybe to 40 instead of 99).

Last edited by TJS; December 1, 2009 at 13:12.
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Old December 1, 2009, 15:11   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
I think missile weapons are good as they are if we:

a) remove overpowered slings of buckland (or make it an artifact)
These are pretty rare. I don't find one of them very often. They'll get even scarcer once ego items get rarer. I don't think these are much of a problem, but wouldn't mind them turning into an artifact.

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Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
b) remove many ego-ammunition types (ego-ammunition is what makes bow really powerful, this is what "old days" used to be, not many ego-types there, so no issue in overpowered missiles either)
I wouldn't remove the brands, but I would reduce their efficacy. I think the only time you want to remove something entirely is if no one ever uses it. If something is overpowered, you want to tweak it's power so it falls into line but still remains useful.

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Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
c) remove ammo branding in spells.
I have no problem with this. I'd instead vote for a spell that makes ammo signifcantly harder to break or have it ignore acid/fire. It especially makes little sense for mages to have this ability.

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Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
d) new one: either make shooting at point blank very very difficult or disallow it completely.
I'd also add an additional to-hit penalty for long range missiles.

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Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
b2) in old days brands contained only fire, electricity and cold. Acid and poison didn't exist. We could remove acid-brand from ammunition. In fact I would remove it from melee-weapons too (Sauron). There were no "holy might" ammo, so that should go too.
Again, removing something because it's overpowered, IMO, isn't the way to go. Tweak it. Holy Might missiles are exceedingly rare, I don't find them every game. If I do, I may not even have a good launcher to use them for. These should be a powerful weapon because of their rarity. But I still wouldn't mind lessening their effect.
About Ranger:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
Ranger is special case and should remain so. Because ranger is very good with bows I recommend tweaking other aspects of ranger. I think ranger and rogue spell lists should be swapped, with minor tweaks in detection where rogue should remain better. Ranger should be closer to warrior than rogue IMO.
Ranger should be the archer class. Missile weapons should be their primary damage mode. Missile weapons should be a secondary damage mode for most other classes, except possibly rogues where missiles and melee could be about the same. Priests and paladins should have primary damage from melee and Mages should have primary damage from magic. The problem right now is that Mages and Rogues favor archery over their other modes and that Priests and Paladins are just as likely to choose archery over melee.

TJS makes two good points about missile weapons. One is that they do more damage than magic devices. Most rods and wands of elemental bolts are junk because by the time you find them, you are already doing more damage from unenchanted arrows. This is a problem.

The second is that because of their ranged nature they are a very powerful attack. Monsters waste turns moving towards you while you snipe away. There are several solutions for this that don't even involve adjusting missile damage. You can change the AI so that monsters are much more likely to use a ranged attack/spell if you use a ranged attack, or use teleport-to if they have it. Monsters currently favor advancing towards @ even if their most powerful attack is a ranged breath attack. Missiling Huan to death is a lot harder if he keeps on breathing after every shot. You can add a monster spell that halves missile damage and then allow monsters to cast it if they've lost 30-50% of health and have just been hit by a ranged attack.
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Old December 1, 2009, 16:00   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJS View Post
Another way in which ranged weapons are overpowered is that they can do much more damage than the best magic devices. Good magic devices seem only to do around 125 damage at a push. This means that it is better for mages to use a ranged weapon than say a rod of acid bolts in many situations, which somehow doesn't seem right.

This always left me scratching my head as well. But in the case of the mage, I think it would be better to allow them to be better than any other class at using magic items. Perhaps if mages got a base percentage increase to magic item damage equal to their level, or twice their level (either 50% more or 100% more by level 50). I've no idea if this is really balanced, I just want to see mages acting like mages and warriors acting like warriors.
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Old December 1, 2009, 16:27   #5
TJS
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Originally Posted by Deranged Archivist View Post
This always left me scratching my head as well. But in the case of the mage, I think it would be better to allow them to be better than any other class at using magic items. Perhaps if mages got a base percentage increase to magic item damage equal to their level, or twice their level (either 50% more or 100% more by level 50). I've no idea if this is really balanced, I just want to see mages acting like mages and warriors acting like warriors.
I'd like to see magic devices deal damage based on the character race, class and wisdom (and possibly character level).
This would make wisdom much more useful for non-holy characters and mean that magic devices scale with character level as well.

The perhaps you can have to-hit penalties on ranged weapons for less strong character which would be counteracted by their better use of magic devices which provide a similar function.
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Old December 1, 2009, 16:33   #6
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Another suggestion:

Right now, the multiplier is applied after all of the other to-damage bonuses, so the biggest way to change this is to reduce the to-damage plusses on arrows, or apply the multiplier before some of the bonus damage is applied.

One wasted part of missiel weapons is the bonus damage from good and great hits. They almost never happen because the probability of good/great this are tied to the weight of the weapon, which in this case is the actual arrow/bolt/stone.

Has anyone considered reducing the "typical" damage from an arrow, but increasing the probability of the occasional good, great, or *great* hit multiplier from missile weapons. It does make sense that there is potential for tremendous damage from ammunition if it hits the sweet spot of a creature (brain, heart), but not every time like it is now.
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Old December 1, 2009, 16:40   #7
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No : a,b, b2 melee
Maybe : c,d,b2 ammo

Real men dont use missiles.

T.
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Old December 1, 2009, 17:13   #8
Timo Pietilš
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJS View Post
I think they are overpowered from a gameplay point of view, because you can do almost as much damage as melee, without having to worry about the effects of monsters getting close ie. reduce stat, reduce exp, drain charges etc. etc.
I fail to see how this is a bad thing. This is one of the main tactics in angband. Don't let the baddie hit you.

Weapon power comparison Belthronding does around 621 damage with branded ammo of both arrows hit.

Assuming you have found also good extra blows weapon:

x * 7 = 621
x = 621 / 7
x = 88.7 points of damage / blow.

Assume Scythe of Slicing of extra blows (+2) + brand-ring = 60

88.7 - 60 = 28.7

Assume that you have enchanted that to +8 to dam, that leaves 20.7 for rest of the gear.
20 from STR (18/220), Cambeleg +8, Elessar +7 = 35.

20.7 -35 = -14.3 * 7 = -100.1

Melee wins by -100.1 damage.

Of course finding such a good weapon is a rare case, so I suggest that also finding such a enormously powerful missile-weapon is made equally rare, if not rarer.

BTW, that is not even close to best Sauron-killer I have used. Best was Scythe of Slicing of Fury (+20,+24) (+2) with acid-ring. That one aggravated, but who cares when you are already fighting the intended target. With critical hits I got from that Sauron died in about ten rounds. And because I was moving at speed +30 and Sauron at +20 that did mean that Sauron did get about 8 turns to wonder what hit him. Using bow instead of melee wasn't even considered.

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To balance ranged weapons with melee you really need to either reduce their damage
Why?

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Originally Posted by TJS View Post
output or give more monsters the ability to do those things from a distance and also reduce the chances of them doing so when you are up close (so they melee you instead).
Again, why?

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Originally Posted by TJS View Post
Another advantage with ranged weapons is that an extra shot can double the damage that you deal each turn. It can also mean that you can shoot once and move/heal/escape as well, which isn't possible with melee.
That is something that missile-weapons have that melee doesn't have, but the instant you use something else than shoot you use full turn, so it isn't that big an advantage.

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Also I like the newer brands of ammo/weapon that you get because it creates more interesting choices about what to keep. After all each different ammo type takes a different slot in your inventory.
I don't see anything interesting in different ego types there are now. No choices, at least not much choices.

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If the newer brands make the game too easy then I'd rather see the game made harder in other ways rather than reduce the possible strategic choices.
So you reduce tactical choices in order not to reduce strategic choices? What strategic choices are there? Do I keep fire brand instead of acid brand? What good is in that? To me that sounds like Too Much Junk -choice.

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Another way in which ranged weapons are overpowered is that they can do much more damage than the best magic devices.
That is magic device problem. A good bow is a good weapon against single target, a magic device should have advantage over it in that it affects more monsters or that it hits always without range penalty.

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Good magic devices seem only to do around 125 damage at a push. This means that it is better for mages to use a ranged weapon than say a rod of acid bolts in many situations, which somehow doesn't seem right.
That I agree. Offensive magic devices are mainly junk in most part of the game. There should be better ones than there are. But that isn't really missile weapon problem, that is magic device problem.
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Old December 1, 2009, 18:56   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
Ranger is special case and should remain so. Because ranger is very good with bows I recommend tweaking other aspects of ranger. I think ranger and rogue spell lists should be swapped, with minor tweaks in detection where rogue should remain better. Ranger should be closer to warrior than rogue IMO.
this sounds like a good idea to me. there's no reason that the ranger class should excel with ranged weapons AND offensive magic when compared to the rogue. ranger as a warrior with some detection magic and somewhat better ranged weapon skills seems about right.
this is probably well beyond the scope of any potential tweaks at hand, but introducing an archer class, as many variants have done, might not be a bad idea. reduce the ranger's ranged weapon skill, boost their magic skills, and have the archer class with full ranged weapon benefits and maybe a little evasive magic. as it stands, the classes seem to need a little more distinction and flavor, in my opinion...
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Old December 1, 2009, 19:02   #10
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Quote:
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I fail to see how this is a bad thing. This is one of the main tactics in angband. Don't let the baddie hit you.
Fine, but then you should be doing much less damage to compensate.

You'd still use missiles against Mim if they did 10% of melee, so 10% would not be underpowered from a gameplay perspective.

The other problem is the monster AI. Monsters are hopeless when it comes to using ranged attacks. The player's ranged attacks need to be nerfed to compensate.

I think that reducing missiles to be on par with current devices would be fine.

All that said, I don't have that much problem with the current system, except that ego ammo should not ever be for sale in town and there should be no branding spell.

If I was changing things, all missile multipliers would affect *only* base dice. Arrows should start at 1d9 in general store and go up from there with many more extra dice ammo drops. Presumably all ego ammo would have extra dice.
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