Part 2: Reduce Mineral Costs for Low-tech Torpedoes
In my last article I offered recommendations to balance the MegaCredit costs of torpedoes. In this article I will look at mineral cost inequalities among torpedo types, and offer options on how they might be addressed.
Philosophy & Principles
The following simple principles will be used to guide the suggestions for the game in this article:
1st principle: If a player wants to try a low-tech torp strategy, they shouldn’t be penalized with very high mineral costs. In short, cheap torps should not be expensive.
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 low-tech torpedoes (Mk. 1 – Mk. 3) are not used often — partly because they are weak, but perhaps more importantly they are extremely expensive in minerals compared to mid-range torps like Mk. 4. Their mineral costs could be reduced to make them more playable. They are also not suitable at all for minelaying, due to this same high mineral cost. Players need to save their minerals to build their ships before the ship limit, and usually can’t afford to waste them.
Minerals are also precious in short-format games (Dogfight and Blitz), where players are pressured to build large ships as fast as possible. The lack of usability of low-tech torpedoes is very noticeable in short-format games. Even though this format has limited resources, you rarely see anyone use a torpedo less than the Mk. 4. This is mostly because the weaker torp grades are so expensive in minerals that it’s not worth using them, even to take planets. These extra mineral costs can prevent you from building the ships you need.
It’s also worth considering that when VGA Planets first came out in the ’90s, the Host settings created more mineral-rich environments. Back then, wasting minerals on low-tech torpedoes may not have been as important.
This graph shows you the Classic mineral costs of using low-tech torpedoes to conquer planets and destroy ships:
How to Lower Mineral Costs
The Classic VGAP formula for producing torpedoes is 1 Dura + 1 Tri + 1 Moly = 1 torp. To lower the cost, you can simply make 1D + 1T + 1M = 2, 3 or 6 torpedoes.
Another way of reducing mineral costs for torps would be to have them cost only 1 of each mineral; E.G. Protons could cost simply 1 moly. Mk. 3 torps could cost 0 dura + 1 tri + 1 moly. This could be an interesting model, as players could choose torpedo grades based on the mineral savings they will get. But to avoid changing traditional flavour, I will stick to the traditional 1 D+T+M we are used to in this article for my suggestions.
Proposal 1: Reduce mineral costs for low-tech torps
Below is a chart explaining the proposed changes. Basically these changes will cause more torpedoes to be made whenever you exchange 1 D+T+M for a torpedo using MKT or when building at starbase.
So, looking at the chart above, we see that the new cost of the Mk. 2 is 1 mineral per torpedo, meaning when you do MKT with 1D + 1T + 1M, you will get 3 torpedoes.
Effect On Combat Damage (mineral cost)
The following charts demonstrate the effect that this change will have on mineral expenses to use low-tech torpedoes:
As you can see, all torpedoes have become quite comparable in their mineral costs per unit damage. This allows you to use low-tech ammunition without depleting your mineral reserves. This fulfills principle #1 (“cheap torps should not be expensive”) and principle #2 (“you should not need to scoop to save minerals”). With these changes, all torpedo grades are now usable, “out of the box”.
Proposal 2: Reduce Launcher Costs a Bit
In the spirit of making cheap torpedoes not be expensive, the launcher costs of the low-tech torps should be reviewed. They are expensive in minerals, considering that they are weaker and low-tech. To make them more usable, their costs should be reduced. They should be relatively inexpensive in mineral costs. In particular, the Mk. 2 has a high duranium cost, which is scarce in the early game. The Gamma Bomb should probably have its mineral costs minimized because gamma bombs are already very mineral-costly, since you must fire so many more of them in combat.
Proposal 3: Change the Number of Mines Laid for Some Low-Tech Torpedoes
The classic game has a great disparity in mineral cost efficiency between low-tech and high-tech torpedoes. This is true in terms of damage (as shown above) and also in mines (shown below). This is what the mineral costs for minelaying look like in Classic VGAP: (Note: The Mk. 1 is far off the chart and can’t be fully shown)
The differences here are extreme and could be tempered a bit. Here are my proposals: Increasing the Mk. 1 and Proton’s mines will fix the high mineral cost of minelaying. For the Mk. 3, we must actually reduce its number of mines since it is cheaper in minerals now. (The Mk. 3 will be discussed more below).
After these adjustments, here is the graph: (including the mineral cost reductions from Proposal 1)
As you can see, the differences between torpedo types are less extreme after reducing the torpedoes’ mineral costs. Low-tech torps are still more expensive in minerals than higher-tech for minelaying, but no longer prohibitively so. The lower-tech torpedoes are now possible to use as minelayers without a huge waste of minerals. This makes these grades more usable (fulfilling principle #1) and reduces the need to use the mine scooping method to save on minerals (fulfilling principle #2).
Correspondingly Adjust MC Cost for Mk. 3 and Proton
To make sure that MC costs are in line after the minelaying changes, some cost adjustments are needed. Also, the MC cost relative to their damage should be reviewed.
Mk. 3 was very weak and still overpriced, even after Joshua’s new changes. 5 MC is an appropriate cost to suit its damage (and its new minelaying values).
Proton was a bit overpriced. A weak, low-tech torp does not need to be 5 MC, even if it has a longer range now. 3 MC is suitable for its damage and its minelaying costs.
Results: Graphs of the Changed MC Costs (minelaying & damage)
After adjusting the Proton and Mk. 3’s MC costs, their cost of damage is more appropriate for both. The weaker torpedo grades are now cheaper to do damage with, as they should be (in line with principle #1) and won’t need to be scooped to be affordable in minerals (principle #2).
This chart shows what the new Mk. 1 and Proton would look like with their minelaying increases, and Proton/Mk. 3’s cost changes. (It also includes Joshua’s cost reduction to Mk. 2). The low-tech torps are low in MC cost (but still higher in mineral cost than higher-tech torps).
Proposal #4: Alternative for Balancing the Mk. 3: Buff it.
In my last article, I suggested that the Mk. 3 be buffed, to properly match its MC cost. I suggested this because the Mk. 3’s cost could not be lowered without making it too cheap a minelayer. But if you reduce its minelaying values (as we have done here), you can reduce the MC cost further (to where it belongs). The Mk. 3’s cost should really be lower than at present, because its damage is so weak.
The proposals in this article have been assuming it keeps its power level where it is (15 TW). But there is another option: to buff the Mk. 3 (increase power level to 22-25 TW). This would make it the Mk. 4’s little brother. Compared to the Mk. 4, it would be cheaper, a bit weaker, and have higher crew kill, which will have the additional benefit of allowing it to capture freighters and Merlins, etc.
Option to buff the Mk.3: Damage increased to 22-25; mineral costs stay at 3 minerals; mines stay the same; MC cost could be 8-10 MC, depending on damage.
Implementing the mineral cost reductions changes proposed in this article will make low-tech grades of torpedo more usable. They will no longer have extremely high mineral costs, fulfilling principle #1 (cheap torpedoes should not be expensive). They will also no longer require scooping to be usable as a weapon to save minerals, fulfilling principle #2.
There will be new strategies possible as a result of these changes. There will be significant changes in short format (Dogfight/Blitz), where low-tech torps can finally be used without wasting precious minerals. Even building capital ships (e.g. Dark Wing, Annihilation, etc.) with low-tech torpedoes will become more viable as a result.
External Link: (Click at your own risk! -Editor)
Torpedo Stat Editor/Charts If you want to mess with the torpedo values and see the chart results
Editor’s Note: Here’s a link to that video we promised: