Addressing Torpedo Balance – Part 1: “Normalize MC costs”

Opinion

In my last article, I described the new torpedo changes and demonstrated the relative inequality of torpedo stats in VGA Planets. In this article, I will discuss what planets could (and arguably should) look like in terms of an ideal distribution of stats. I will follow up with some concrete suggestions on how to make this possible. In doing so, I will try not to change the flavour of the game.

Changing the cost of some torpedoes may seem radical, but these suggestions are backed by data. I have taken care to make proposals that create a balanced environment without warping the game we are used to. New things are scary, but I promise these changes will not break the game. They will, however, make some torpedo types usable that are not used much now. 


Philosophy & Principles

The following simple principles will be used to guide the suggestions for the game:

1st principle: As your torpedo increases in power, it should increase in cost. (Conversely, cheaper torps should actually be cheaper.)

2nd principle: You should not need to scoop mines to make a weapon usable (by saving minerals or MC using the scoop conversion trick).

The Data

In order for a “cheaper” torpedo to make sense, it must actually cost less to use. The following graph on the right shows what this would look like, judging by MegaCredits. Just as lower-tech torpedoes should be cheaper, higher-tech should be more expensive. There should be a basic trade-off between cost and power. This chart shows what a neat trend line would be; notice how different it is from Nu’s distribution (left)

Proposal for Torpedo MC Balance

From a game design perspective, it is more fun and easier for the player if they don’t have to do the extra step of mine scooping to achieve a reasonable cost for a torpedo.

Therefore, I propose:

Make each torpedo cost roughly equal to their scoop cost.

(Specifically, adjust the cost of Mk. 5, Mk. 6 and Gamma Bomb)

Here are the numbers I propose to make the torpedo cost roughly in line with the scoop cost:

As the following graph shows, the efficiency of torpedoes is more evenly sloped when you look at their scoop-adjusted cost. This is closer to the ideal distribution image shown at the beginning of the article (though the Mk. 3 remains an outlier).

After changing the price of the Mk. 5 (now called “Heavy Proton”) and the Mk. 6, we see that their price is more appropriate to their power. We can see this by the steady trend line of the blue bars. (The red line is the damage output of each torp, in TW).

The Mk. 5 and Mk. 6 have become less expensive than those that come later, the Mk. 7 and Mk. 8. This fulfills principle #1 that torpedoes should steadily increase in price. Now these torpedoes are usable as a weapon that you can manufacture directly instead of having to use the mine scooping trick. This fulfills principle #2, that torps should not require mine scooping to be affordable.

But what about the Mk. 3?

If you noticed that the Mk. 3 seems out of place… well, you’re right. Its cost per damage is too high, especially for a weaker torpedo. But its price cannot be lowered further — any lower and it would be too cheap for minelaying. If the Mk. 3 is going to be balanced, it needs to have its power buffed. If its power were increased to about 22 TW, it would follow the trend line of the other torps. Here’s what it would look like if the Mk. 3 were buffed:

As you can see, buffing the Mk. 3 creates a nice and steady trend line, fulfilling principle #1. After this adjustment, it will do 73% of the Mk. 4’s damage while costing 38% less. (Note that if the Mk. 3 were buffed, its Crew Kill value should also increase in proportion, to keep the same crew-kill:damage ratio.)

Minelaying Consequences of Normalizing MC Cost

One of the consequences of making these adjustments is that it will make most torpedo types similar in their minelaying cost. This means that most torpedo types will be economical (in MC) as a choice to lay mines with. At these costs, everything from the Mk. 2 to the Mk. 7 will be of comparable mine-laying value.

Conclusion

These proposed changes to normalize MC costs will make torpedoes generally more comparable in their usability, and will then have an MC cost proportional to their power. There will be more rational choices available for a player to pick from in torpedo types. This will make every torpedo in theory usable. This simplifies things for newer players and lets them try out different weapon types without fear. It also opens the door to new strategies to discover, which should, ideally, result in more fun. 

Coming soon:

How Torpedoes Should Be Balanced – Part 2: Mineral Costs for the Weaker Torpedoes

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