Phantom-X Balancing mod

Moderators: Duck_42, mead

Phantom-X Balancing mod

Postby mead » 15 Oct 2018, 21:50

Several years ago, Duck_42 and I took over development of the Phantom-X mod. Most of the changes and additions we have made since then (like Paladins, reveal settings and other lobby options, meteors) had one goal: Keeping the mod gameplay fun and balanced in the face of ever evolving vanilla FAF balance, and giving players the possibility to tweak settings to their liking. At the same time, we wanted the mod to stay accessible to new players or those who were only familiar with older mod versions like Phantom-N. Therefore, we avoided changing the vanilla unit balance.

When some of us old time Phantom players returned a few months ago, we found the game mode to be in such a bad place, however, that changes to unit balance seem necessary.

1.There is a decidedly too strong focus on spamming out RAS SACUs. The game is either a set period of time where everyone just ecos, and then everyone starts fighting already having 700+ mass income. Even in the case of an early fight, you still have to keep spamming SACUs like mad if you don't want to get eco'ed out of the game within 10 minutes. This always results in giant quantity over quality spam fests, very often resulting in boring T3 Arty vs T3 Arty matches.

2. In the popular PxAlpha mod, the problem from point (1) is exacerbated by everyone having Hives. Additionally, this promotes simple, spammy strategies. Nuance and finesse take a back seat. Ironically, the perceived necessity for everyone to have hives to deal with phantom t2 navy rushes comes mostly from the default prebuilt setting on the last version of Roanoke, which effectively sets assignment time at a much later game/eco stage than other prebuilts or playing without any.

In our opinion, a balance issue is not truly solved by giving everybody access to it.

3. The factions still vary wildly in how viable their navies are. Given that the majority of phantom games are played on island maps, this is a significant concern.

4. Vanilla balance changes in the last 2 years to T4 build times and veterancy have made T4 rushes a useless, losing strategy for most factions. While the veterancy change is a very welcome fix, the doubled build times don't mesh with Phantom-X well.

So we made a mod to address these issues.
You can find it in the mod vault as PhantomXBalancing (currently on version 3). It is still very much a work in progress and needs further testing.

The main difference to the current FAF balance patch is probably the cost of the RAS upgrade on SACUs. We doubled the price, so that mass fabricators remain a viable option and players actually have to think and pick strategic times for ecoing. This should also help break up the static and boring ecoing period that many phantom matches have evolved into. Investing into RAS SACUs is now actually a (potentially risky) strategic decision instead of a necessity. Overinvesting can easily lead you to being overrun by neighbours who focus on units instead. Given enough time, a game may still organically get to the point where people have close to a thousand mass income, but these games will be as rare and epic as they should be. But before that, your individual unit contingents and making intelligent use of them counts more.

Secondly, it changes the naval balance in some points, most significantly by reining in the previously overpowered UEF navy. It is now a lot less viable to simply spam Atlantides to counter anything sub and super the sea. Neptunes have also felt the nerf gun slightly. Additionally, HARMS are now immune to ground fire (except maybe from an Ahwassa), if built in deep water. As a trade off, their HP have been reduced significantly. Tempests have seen a much-needed hp increase.

As opposed to PxAlpha, only Cybran and UEF have engineering stations. Unlike their proliferation, we did not find their lacking to be a problem, except when trying to build T4s. Therefore, build times for experimentals have been restored to what they were before patch 3696 two years ago.

The last significant change is a reduction in anti nuke silo price and missile build time. The reason being, in our own play we discovered that phantom nuke rushes were OP, as they were literally always a winning strategy, always costing the innocents combined more than the phant put in, even if a missile was never fired. If the nuke was assisted and accompanied by a T2/t3 navy push, there was a guarantee for an innocent to lose their base within the first few minutes of hostilities.

The complete change log is listed below (last updated Oct. 15, 2018)

- Increases the cost of RAS SCU upgrade (upgrade now costs 7500m and 180000e).
- Increases cost of UEF SCU weapon upgrades (+3000m for the Adv. Cooling, +1000m for AOE).
- Decreases T4 build times back to pre 3696 levels.
- Increases Seraphim T3 sub DPS (from 335 to 360).
- Increases the cost of the UEF Battlecruiser (from 7000m to 9000m).
- Decreases the torpedo DPS of the UEF Atlantis (from 400 to 250).
- Increases the Tempest hitpoints from 60000 to 80000
- Increases Scathis range from 300 to 330 and decreases build cost from 110000m/2000000e to 85000m/1500000).
- Decreases HARMS HP from 11000 to 4000, places them lower in the water (to protect against ground firing), and increases DPS from 375 to 450
- Increased the mass cost of Hives from 350 to 400.
- Decreased the cost of anti nuke buildings from 7500m to 6000m
- Tweaked anti nuke missile build time and anti nuke building build time to allow for 25% more effective outside assistance. This change has no net effect on the build time for an unassisted anti nuke missile.

Tldr: PhantomX balance was/is badly broken. Pxalpha does not help matters. We made mod to address the most significant issues.

This mod is very much a work in progress. Feedback from you is very much appreciated.
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Re: Phantom-X Balancing mod

Postby Apofenas » 16 Oct 2018, 13:44

There is a decidedly too strong focus on spamming out RAS SACUs. The game is either a set period of time where everyone just ecos, and then everyone starts fighting already having 700+ mass income. Even in the case of an early fight, you still have to keep spamming SACUs like mad if you don't want to get eco'ed out of the game within 10 minutes. This always results in giant quantity over quality spam fests, very often resulting in boring T3 Arty vs T3 Arty matches.

RAS SCUS

I started playing Phantom-X in 2013. Game was already focused on spamming RAS SCUs. I did it back then with Gaz-UI auto-upgrade, i do it now with RAS preset. I would do it with your so-called nerf of RAS SCUs.

Part of the reason why this meta is so strong is how much SCU packs in single unit, its ability to build, shoot and most improtantly - hide underwater. Make SAM, make torp launcher, assist instead of engy station, hide, run away. All that compared to alternative way of ecoing - building mass fabs and pgens...

You made them less mass efficient. Good. That didnt change anything though. The only balance mod which actually nerfs RAS SCU meta is Equilibrium:
-nerf to power cost to power cost, making it much harder to build RAS SCUs
-Death damage increace for RAS SCUs making them chain each other and everything nearby
-build power nerf for SCU making you spend additional resources to put proper build power on RAS SCU
-DPS nerf making RAS SCUs much weaker at defending
-Ras analogue for Sera with worse mass- and unit-cap efficiency

These are very crucial changes that turn RAS SCU into walking resrouce structure and nothing else unless you get upgrades... That made RAS SCU meta much weaker, but didnt remove it. Your nerf looks pathetic compare to that

I don't see why you nerfed UEF SCU weapons specificly... It isnt even much more efficient than other SCUs for other factions... I guess somebody got dropped by Pitiko again? pff very good reason for such changes.

Engie stations

I hate PhxModAlpha. The only usefull thing it does - is making seraphim playable by adding RAS to their SCU. Should RAS be added to Sera or removed from all other factions - it is other talk. But it evens things out. However remaining changes are complete rubbish. It makes ASF even more op, makes cybran shield stronger than UEF, but most importantly - adds hives to all. Why were they also added to UEF stays mystery to me.

You don't need hives if you can plan your eco 2-3 minutes ahead and look at what your neighbours are doing. You can do that and prepare yourself to future... or spam hives like crazy 1k retard when mass starts overflowing to then instabuild some exp, rush t2 navy or simply spam SCUs. M U C H S T R A T E G Y here. I hate this and i adressed these issues in my Phx edit mod, by making various tweaks to engie stations and build range & build power tweaks to t2/t3 engineers. What i got in return? "YOU NURF MY PRECIOUS HIVES! CYBRONS ARE RUINED IN PHANTOM NOW!!!!"(well, something like that)

What does your mod do? You can rush exp with t1 engines. Good job. Even hives not needed for that.(not to mention you didnt even really change anything with that nerf).

Phantom-X is not a game mod about RushSomething-InstaKillInno-OrLose game. Sadly nearly all Phantom-X players play either that way, or spam SCUs till they get revealed.

T2/T3 navy
I guess you don't understand why Phantom-X is about t2 rush these days. It isnt exactly the t2 rush. It is destroyer rush. The only faction that doesnt has to use Neptune and Coopers because their destroyer is utter shit. Destroyers have way too strong torpedoes for a unit that also has strong direct fire weaponary.

To counter destroyers you need your own destroyers or Battlecruiser. Subs wont work. Equilibrium adressed that issue much better. T1 subs>Destroyers>T2subs>t1 subs trianble balance gives you a lot of opportunities to counter early rush by building right unit.

Most naval changes are pointless IMO.
-Increases the cost of the UEF Battlecruiser

I wish you to play without Neptunes and use Valiants instead. You'll see why this unit has to be strong.
- Decreases the torpedo DPS of the UEF Atlantis (from 400 to 250)

Wut? People got too lazy to groundfire Atlantis?
- Increases the Tempest hitpoints from 60000 to 80000
I guess eating 2 more valleys of Summits can do its job...
Spoiler: show
no

- Increases Seraphim T3 sub DPS (from 335 to 360)

You deal more damage, torp defence blocks more damage. Meanwhile Torp bombers insta-pay off killing t3 subs and destroyers obliterate them anyway.

PhantomX balance was already badly broken. Pxalpha makes it even worse. Phantom-X Balancing mod isn't much better either.

IMO Phantom-X game mode has to change itself
The standard Phantom-X game scenario is:
1) Phantoms rush, both Phantoms insta-kill inno and innocements insta-lose
2) Only one innocement dies
3) Innos manage to defend and Phantoms insta-lose
4) Phantoms dont rush, build RAS SCUs and it all comes down to shitty turtle fest

The only interesting scenario is 2d. When Phantom has extra base, less enemies nearby and is free to develop. This is only scenario that may force people to do politics.

There could be more options depending on reveal settings, but usually it is retarded no-reveal or 30min reveal.

I suggest to do it differently. Reduce the role of eco bonuses and introduce "Black out" stage. Make all alliances break during some period of time. This would allow phantoms to 1v1 innos and trick other players as those wouldnt be able to see what's going on. Allow Phantoms to invest resources to call/increace Blackout stage and let innoes to delay/reduce it.

Phantom-X needs more options. They are old. It was made when lobby could only support 8 players max. Now we have 16, which means 3 phantoms get absurd bonus from remaining 13 players... Option needed to reduce/delay assignment time. Option to make Phantoms allies. Different resource boost options ect. This would make it much better, not some balance mod with random changes.
VictimOfJaggedBalance wrote:IMO Scathis is in a perfect spot right now - nobody's using it, so nobody's complaining about it, just like fire beetles.
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