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Topic: Naval warfare rethought

stormax-e
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Posted at: 2023-09-05, 21:37

After some playing experience with warships, I want to share some thoughts about naval warfare feature and suggest some changes.

Firstly, this new naval warfare feature is great feature and I appreciate the developers behind it. Big thanks to all of you! But I hope it is just 1.0 version of this feature and will be improved because of some reasons:

When warships are in use, they can hijack the entire playing experience because they're too strong on their own. To mitigate this I'd entangle their attack strength more strongly to units they hold. Each ship should have an attack value of 0 if they have no units with military training in. As warships should have their own ranged equipment for fighting in addition to units, each added soldier can man one imaginary ballista, catapult, bow etc the ship has (no need to actually produce them).

With this logic, each soldier added to the ship should increase attack and defence capability by two fractions: one for the soldier and one for the ship. When warship is fully manned with best soldiers, its attack and defence capabilities are as good as they can get (100%). If Empire's warship's total capacity of troops is 30, then adding one beginner unit into it raises its capability from zero to 2/60. If the soldier is better, it should add more capabilities to soldier's fraction and as a result, the total attack & defence could then exceed 60/60 (with shipful of highly trained soldiers), which means that the maximum value can change according to the units a warship holds. From a logical point more trained soldier doesn't need more space in the ship, so troops' battle skills shouldn't change unit capacity.

Ship's battle capabilities, however can not exceed it's part of fractions, which is 30/30 in this suggested example.

Maybe each battle should have two parts where first half is ranged (ship only) and second half is ranged + melee. It could be time dependent when second half begins and have some randomization too. Without troops the ship can only sail with its basic crew.

It would also be nice if warships without troops could be captured with troops, but I guess it can't be done unless warships are coded like floating military buildings. Furthermore if possible, it would be nice if the troops inside get part of the damage, die and thus reduce capabilities during battle. Their damage should be separated from damage caused to the ship..

To further improve the overall balance, I think that there should be an option in the shipyards to choose which type of ship is built. Warship has to be more durable for battle conditions and therefore it should cost more. For example with empire, I suggest additional cost of 3 or 4 iron slabs. Transport ship should not be refittable to warship, but it might be ok to downgrade warship to transport ship. Maybe downgraded isn't as good with it's transport capacity, as it might be suboptimal due to it's original design choices.

Currently sea battles feel like traditional rts clickers and it doesn't fit that well to widelands's style. I'm not sure if even half of my command tries were not used by the game which is also really confusing.. it's just an rts chaos.

Something like these would, in my opinion improve naval warfare feature. Thoughts?

Edited: 2023-09-05, 21:47

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tothxa
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Posted at: 2023-09-05, 23:36

I fully agree that warships need serious rebalancing. However I'd concentrate more on costs and rate of production than the attack and damage mechanics. Requiring some soldiers to be present for the attack capability could still be part of the increased costs, but I still (as in the github PR discussion) think that ship to ship battles only make sense if the naval strength of a player is not tightly coupled with their land based military strength.

I also agree that damage should be taken by the onboard soldiers too (possibly killing them), but the calculation shouldn't be too complicated.

My proposal for increasing costs is to require each warship to carry a shipwright and the production costs of a ship, plus some iron and gold (say 2:1). Soldier capacity would then be the remaining capacity of the ship (10 for most tribes, but Frisians need some adjustment for the same). Damage would proportionally destroy the carried materials (most "expensive" first), and repairs would be tied to refilling them. Of course the space would be reserved for the destroyed wares, and could not be taken by more soldiers. face-smile.png

My proposal for rate limiting is to put the refitting button in port windows instead of ships, next to expeditions, and make refitting work like expeditions too: first collect the wares, then call a ship. A port could only prepare one kind of ship at a time.

I'm not sure if it would make sense with the above changes, but refitting a damaged warship back to transport ship should require first repairing it. But obviously the carried wares should be recovered. So it may be somewhat strange if first the repair materials are tansferred to the ship, then when the repairs are ready, immediately returned to the port. Maybe don't even allow turning back to transport ship?

Some more balancing for invasions could be to require an invading warship to be present at invaded port spaces, otherwise lose the invading soldiers. So then naval invasions could be stopped either by defeating the invading soldiers on land or by warships destroying the support ship(s).

Edited: 2023-09-05, 23:42

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stormax-e
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Posted at: 2023-09-07, 11:52

tothxa wrote:

I fully agree that warships need serious rebalancing. However I'd concentrate more on costs and rate of production than the attack and damage mechanics. Requiring some soldiers to be present for the attack capability could still be part of the increased costs, but I still (as in the github PR discussion) think that ship to ship battles only make sense if the naval strength of a player is not tightly coupled with their land based military strength.

I mostly like your proposals. Costs and rate of production are the most important parts of the problem. Especially increased use costs are the key here. After writing my initial suggestions I actually came up with one too, but probably yours is better. In my version warships require food onboard to be useful and when they're out of players territory, they'll consume rations and meals away time dependently. When all the rations are consumed, the ship is no longer commandable and returns to it's home port for resupply. In a battle rate of consuming food may be higher.

After some thinking, I agree with you about keeping land strength and naval strength somewhat separated.

I also agree that damage should be taken by the onboard soldiers too (possibly killing them), but the calculation shouldn't be too complicated.

My proposal for increasing costs is to require each warship to carry a shipwright and the production costs of a ship, plus some iron and gold (say 2:1). Soldier capacity would then be the remaining capacity of the ship (10 for most tribes, but Frisians need some adjustment for the same). Damage would proportionally destroy the carried materials (most "expensive" first), and repairs would be tied to refilling them. Of course the space would be reserved for the destroyed wares, and could not be taken by more soldiers. face-smile.png

If there's Shipwright onboard, he should be able to fix some damages If some wood is also present. If Shipwright is renamed to Captain instead, then there isn't such a need. Your idea of repairs tied to refilling expensive stuff is great.

My proposal for rate limiting is to put the refitting button in port windows instead of ships, next to expeditions, and make refitting work like expeditions too: first collect the wares, then call a ship. A port could only prepare one kind of ship at a time.

It is very logical to make refitting to warship work similar to expedition and so there isn't a need to have two different types of ships available in the shipyard.

I'm not sure if it would make sense with the above changes, but refitting a damaged warship back to transport ship should require first repairing it. But obviously the carried wares should be recovered. So it may be somewhat strange if first the repair materials are tansferred to the ship, then when the repairs are ready, immediately returned to the port. Maybe don't even allow turning back to transport ship?

One way or another, The ships shouldn't be refittable both ways. This will bring in more decision making for the player which is almost always a good idea in strategy games.

Some more balancing for invasions could be to require an invading warship to be present at invaded port spaces, otherwise lose the invading soldiers. So then naval invasions could be stopped either by defeating the invading soldiers on land or by warships destroying the support ship(s).

I wouldn't make player lose soldiers without support ship, but then they might not be able to attack new buildings or even continue with the one they're attacking currently. They'll only fight if they're under attack.


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carli2
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Posted at: 2023-09-07, 14:54

IMO, Ships should only have military power when they are filled with soldiers.

When two ships fight, their soldiers shall fight and hurt each other. Once one battleship is empty, it will sink in the fight.

Regarding gfx, there could be a plank between both ships where you see the two soldiers fighting.


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tothxa
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Posted at: 2023-09-07, 15:59

stormax-e wrote:

In my version warships require food onboard to be useful and when they're out of players territory, they'll consume rations and meals away time dependently. When all the rations are consumed, the ship is no longer commandable and returns to it's home port for resupply. In a battle rate of consuming food may be higher.

That would also be a good option, and about the same complexity to implement.

My proposal for increasing costs is to require each warship to carry a shipwright and the production costs of a ship, plus some iron and gold (say 2:1). Soldier capacity would then be the remaining capacity of the ship (10 for most tribes, but Frisians need some adjustment for the same). Damage would proportionally destroy the carried materials (most "expensive" first), and repairs would be tied to refilling them. Of course the space would be reserved for the destroyed wares, and could not be taken by more soldiers. face-smile.png

If there's Shipwright onboard, he should be able to fix some damages If some wood is also present.

Well, that's the idea. Only it's easier to keep track of all this if wares are tied to health.

But you're right, maybe a more understandable way would be to do damage as it is now, and change the healing logic to allow healing anywhere when the ship is at rest, but consume the wares onboard, so if all is consumed, then no more healing is possible until refilled in a port. This way healing before refitting to transport would be more straightforward too, as it would consume the wares during the repairs.

If Shipwright is renamed to Captain instead, then there isn't such a need.

The nice hidden feature of needing a shipwright is that he needs a hammer, so that's some more buildcost. face-smile.png Captains and sailors are also required on trade ships, but we don't bother with them.

Some more balancing for invasions could be to require an invading warship to be present at invaded port spaces, otherwise lose the invading soldiers. So then naval invasions could be stopped either by defeating the invading soldiers on land or by warships destroying the support ship(s).

I wouldn't make player lose soldiers without support ship, but then they might not be able to attack new buildings or even continue with the one they're attacking currently. They'll only fight if they're under attack.

The invasion logic of soldiers is already too complicated, so I wouldn't go down this path. My idea with support ships would actually be more in line with the old proposal that would have made invasion ships be like temporary military sites. It also wouldn't be too hard to link support ships to the hidden naval invasion base objects just like soldiers are linked, and the logic of removing the base also when no more ships are there would be easy to add.


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stormax-e
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Posted at: 2023-09-07, 21:27

tothxa wrote:

Some more balancing for invasions could be to require an invading warship to be present at invaded port spaces, otherwise lose the invading soldiers. So then naval invasions could be stopped either by defeating the invading soldiers on land or by warships destroying the support ship(s).

I wouldn't make player lose soldiers without support ship, but then they might not be able to attack new buildings or even continue with the one they're attacking currently. They'll only fight if they're under attack.

The invasion logic of soldiers is already too complicated, so I wouldn't go down this path. My idea with support ships would actually be more in line with the old proposal that would have made invasion ships be like temporary military sites. It also wouldn't be too hard to link support ships to the hidden naval invasion base objects just like soldiers are linked, and the logic of removing the base also when no more ships are there would be easy to add.

Maybe you're right. The complexity isn't obvious for non-developer like I. But sudden death for group of soldiers just doesn't feel right. As a solution it will likely raise the bar for invasion as players would then make sure that they have more than enough invading troops and ships before unleashing an invasion.

If the troops have captured a military building before losing support, would they still die in this version? Or just those standing outside? My logic says that it has to be just those standing outside..

From a new player's perspective it'd look like some kind of a bug when they disappear.


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tothxa
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Posted at: 2023-09-08, 01:42

stormax-e wrote:

If the troops have captured a military building before losing support, would they still die in this version?

No. At that point they're no longer invasion soldiers but standard soldiers in a military site.

From a new player's perspective it'd look like some kind of a bug when they disappear.

It would be like when some military building is destroyed: The soldiers would start wandering around, and only die slowly if they can't find a way to a flag connected to an own warehouse.

Though maybe, if a new invasion is started before they die, they should be able to join it. (if they didn't wander too far to see it) Again, by this time they're no longer invasion soldiers but general "fugitives", so this would apply to all fugitive soldiers near a naval invasion. (e.g. when a conquered building is later destroyed or when an own port was destroyed leaving fugitives behind, but a new invasion is able to reconquer the portspace) As far as I can see, that's also doable.

But actually this is the least important of my proposals, so we can even ignore it.


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stormax-e
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Posted at: 2023-09-08, 05:55

tothxa wrote:

stormax-e wrote:

If the troops have captured a military building before losing support, would they still die in this version?

No. At that point they're no longer invasion soldiers but standard soldiers in a military site.

From a new player's perspective it'd look like some kind of a bug when they disappear.

It would be like when some military building is destroyed: The soldiers would start wandering around, and only die slowly if they can't find a way to a flag connected to an own warehouse.

Though maybe, if a new invasion is started before they die, they should be able to join it. (if they didn't wander too far to see it) Again, by this time they're no longer invasion soldiers but general "fugitives", so this would apply to all fugitive soldiers near a naval invasion. (e.g. when a conquered building is later destroyed or when an own port was destroyed leaving fugitives behind, but a new invasion is able to reconquer the portspace) As far as I can see, that's also doable.

But actually this is the least important of my proposals, so we can even ignore it.

With this logic it sounds good, but as you said it, it might not be necessary after all the more important changes are implemented.


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tothxa
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Posted at: 2023-09-09, 01:57

Brought over from https://www.widelands.org/forum/post/40887/

Sorry for posting so much about this. I try to not repeat myself, but let me try to explain the thinking behind my proposals.

carli2 wrote:

I vote for mandatory soldiers on warships to attack

I guess that point has consensus so far.

+ soldier fights over the plank instead of a randomly reduced life bars.

If we base ship to ship strength on the strength of the carried soldiers directly, then it doesn't bring any new aspect into the economy planning, so the whole feature becomes just a gimmick to me, that even ruins the game for some of us. As stormax-e put it above:

Currently sea battles feel like traditional rts clickers and it doesn't fit that well to widelands's style.

Soldiers can fight it out after landing for an invasion anyway, and we have seen in the matches so far that that's the only thing that matters in the end. Which is a good thing IMO.

Also naval invasions already broaden the attack surfaces a lot. Why should we turn the whole sea into another big free-for-all battlefield for the same soldiers?

Ship to ship battles only add new depth to the game if they allow delaying and weakening too strong naval invasions by different investments than soldiers and without derailing the game. From this point of view, the main problem with the current state of the feature is that it turned out that ships don't require that much investment after all. Hence my above proposals.

My other concern that the proposals try to address is that I'd like to allow initial naval colonisation without constant fear of attacks, so naval invasions should be delayed until players have reasonably advanced economies. This is also an aspect of not derailing the old feel of the game. As far as I'm concerned, the reason for the feature request of naval invasions was mostly for the end game when each continent/island is controlled by a single player. (But obviously once we have it, we can't delay it for that long.)

Also trade ships could get soldiers, too.

Trade ships should be made attackable, too.

I vote against this for 2 reasons:

  1. Civilian infrastructure isn't attackable on land either (and that's a good thing IMO)
  2. Ports being attackable in itself is already a very big threat to any overseas colonisation, so we shouldn't make it even harder

The more, the faster they can sail.

AFAIK currently all bobs move at the same speed, so this would probably require quite big changes.

And from a player's point of view, soldiers are not sailors, so why should they affect the maneuvering of the ship?


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the-x
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Posted at: 2023-09-12, 22:36

carli2 wrote:

IMO, Ships should only have military power when they are filled with soldiers.

Exactly -> this is realistic (cause the soldiers in reality fight) and is logical

When two ships fight, their soldiers shall fight and hurt each other. Once one battleship is empty, it will sink in the fight.

In they key thats a good solution

Regarding gfx, there could be a plank between both ships where you see the two soldiers fighting.

Frisians and Barbarians had super expensive ships and dont have the gold for a ship (at the last naval map) Maybe the 2 gold should be removed especially for those 2? Ship building needs too much time and once its finished only quantity wins, a medium difficult solution is to choose between 3 kind of warhsips

-> they use rock paper scissors

depending on scouting and guesses about the other player the played decides which kind of ship he wants to produce maybe exponentially rising costs (dif. to implement) but the first ships must be cheap


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