Combat discussion 8/14/2021

Discussion regarding the various areas out there.
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Combat discussion 8/14/2021

Post by Heron » Fri Aug 13, 2021 10:25 pm

There's a pretty lively combat discussion going on today, and because there's a wide variety of topics and I'm not sure what thread to revive, maybe a new thread is best. Hopefully people can just weigh in on what they're interested in. Some of the points below weren't talked about but I'm personally interested in talking about, and I'm making the thread so they're getting included.

Some of the talking points are:
Combat accessibility and engagement
Combat roll = practice vs combat roll = skill
Ranged combat
Differentiating damage types.

Combat accessibility/engagement:
Relevant thread: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=689
Maneuvers make combat fun. Combat is at its least interesting when you're in the earliest levels, and I am not convinced feint actually does all that much solo. The thread linked has an interesting idea where non-combats get access to watered-down maneuvers, which could break the early-combat monotony a bit and make noncoms feel stronger.

I personally think these should be free, like feint/circle so your low-level baby fighter can do more than wait-smack-wait-smack if they so choose (although that will still be a valid option). I'm iffy on these, so take them as ideas instead of well-reasoned suggestions.

* A maneuver like shove instead of tackle, which takes 3s of roundtime and staggers for 2-3 seconds with minor balance loss (-5, -10?) on top of it. No knockdown, but you open them up to the stagger reroll penalty for your next attack if you time it right. Tackle would replace this ability (or maybe not, we need more actives anyway). If stagger doesn't work the way I think it does, then maybe surprise would be a better fit. This would kind of be like giving everyone a free flip though, so I don't know. Flip could also use some love.

Truestrike could increase the odds of hitting a specific body part to the point where low-level warriors can pull it off. Maybe even allow high-level warriors to make eyeshots through it. Tstrike could alternatively home in on the most injured vital part, like you're striking for their weak spot. This might be better as a nightblade or duelist or even general warrior feature though. Its current iteration is a far cry from warrior abilities. Some people, Rias included, disagree with me on how much tstrike sucks but hopefully we all can agree it has much room to be better.

We could have a counter maneuver. Using it puts you in 5-6s roundtime but the first time you're attacked in the next 2-3 seconds or so, you defend with 2 rerolls and automatically attack back at them with 1 offensive reroll. The 2 defensive rerolls is mostly to offset the roundtime penalty that you take for using it. Might be more trouble than it's worth to implement though.

A light strike / jab maneuver. Do less damage, but build balance for using it, even if you hit or miss. Like qstrike but without the roundtime decrease.

Rolling on practice vs skill:
Relevant thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=638&p=2317&hilit=practice#p2209

We had a chat about this. Personally, I favor rolls being based on your current skill over practice. If this were the case, we could be allowed to practice up to our cap instead of only 25 at a time, and this would make for fewer trips to the barracks. It would be a more organic way of growing your skill rather than seeing instant gains and a long period of nothing. Though it's mentioned in the thread, it doesn't seem like this would hinder crafting in any meaningful way. We currently plateau, go for long stretches without improvement, and then plateau again between training sessions. All this would do is turn that sudden second plateau into a steady climb that ends at the same place. That said, while feeling the improvement would be nice it's not that big a deal to me.

Ranged combat:
Ranged combat still feels pretty superior to melee, even after the multithrow nerf for the simple fact that it ignores fending and ranged weapons give a max-range fend bonus. This is roughly analogous to giving an extra defensive reroll to ranged fighters (You have a maxed out fending bonus) while at the same time shaving a defensive reroll from the melee fighter (You lose your fend bonus because the enemy is ranged). The numbers are more oppressive than just a single reroll, but this analogy helps to establish the disparity for the less crunch-inclined.

Multi-throw is also kind of obsolete with the latest change, losing out to single-throw. Maxed multithrows have comparable damage factors to spear/javelin tosses, but you don't always max your throw. Looking at it like this, every time you throw one knife, two knives, three knives, one hammer, one axe, you'd have been better off throwing a javelin.

Considering multithrow costs an ability to give you arguably worse options, it should be changed to be more consistent and comparable. IE a multithrow should always throw (if possible) 4 knives, or 2 hammers, or 2 axes instead of being RNG.

Bows are also in a frustrating place. Bowstrings feel like they're made out of wet confetti, and arrows break fast with a pretty crazy weight on top. Google says light arrows are about 350 grain, average ones between 420 and 500, and heavy arrows are over 600-grain. This puts a light arrow at .05 pounds, and heavy 700-grain arrows at .1 pounds. Cogg's arrows weigh .3 pounds, or 2100 grains. The only arrows I can find this heavy are bowfishing arrows, which are a whole different beast.

Higher bowstring/arrow durability and lower arrow weight would go a long way towards making archery more of a thing. You don't really see dedicated archer combatants because of how fussy bows are. I tried and dumped it because of how annoying it was.

Differentiating the damage types:
Crits went the way of the dodo, and certain damage types weren't really given anything to compensate. This has unfortunately left them as undesirable, where there are zero actual circumstances when you want to use them if you can avoid it. We can see this shifting back in a good way with the keen edge update, which boosts our blade damage, but certain types are still lacking.

The way I see it, there are three lesser damage types, and three greater ones: Slash to hack, bludgeon to crush, pierce to puncture. The greater ones are straight upgrades from the lessers-- if you had a sword that exclusively slashed versus an identical sword that exclusively hacked, the hack-sword is superior by leaps and bounds. Crush, puncture, and hack are in great places, so we won't focus on them too much. My main concerns are slash, pierce, and to a much lesser extent hack.

Here are the resistances for light leather armor. The disparity and trend only becomes more pronounced as armors get heavier.
Bludgeon: 50%
Crush: 30%
Hack: 40%
Pierce: 30%
Puncture: 30%
Rake: 40%
Slash: 50%

Right away, we can see slash is the most absorbed damage type, along with bludgeon. Bludgeon is not good, but crush is prevalent, unlike the others, so using a bludgeon weapon is really a personal choice. Slash on the other hand is everywhere. It can't break bones, can't armor chink, and it consistently has the worst matchups against all armor types. Hack is in a similar boat, having similar features with crush and puncture except strictly worse armor matchups, but it's not *as* bad.

The saving grace is that slashy weapons tend to have slightly higher damage factors. That advantage goes out the window the second light armor shows up.

Piercing is lackluster as well, but this is because its special feature, armor chink, is extremely unwieldy. There are two reasons for this: chink-heavy weapons are tiny and weak, and the ones that aren't are paired with slashing. If you want to utilize armor chink against a heavy armor without shenanigans, one of two scenarios is likely to happen. One: you use the stiletto, and get fended off five times before you even make your first attack roll (heavies tend to use long to extreme reach weapons), or two: you use the rapier, and 50% of your attacks get mitigated by 70% before armor deflection. It costs you so much momentum that you might as well use a sling or pole weapon.

Spears are an interesting outlier in that they're one-handable, have good range, and do pure piercing. However, their armor chink chance is low. You might land a big hit but more likely you'll just be getting 60% mitigated instead of 70% from slashing.

Crushing weapons are immensely more practical, and what works on heavy armor works even better on light armor. There is no real armor-kill niche being fulfilled here.

Some (warrior) abilities I'd like to suggest would be:

Weapon expertise (toggle?): When striking an armored foe, you'll always use the least-mitigated damage type available to your weapon.

Blade expertise: When slashing or hacking with a hitroll above 50%, deal 10% more damage up to your maximum. (IE if you roll 40%, deal 40%. If you roll 50%, deal 60%. If you roll 90%+, deal 100% of your DF.)

Armor chink: Crits don't exist and it's not instant death any more. Armor chink active's high balance cost and cooldown make it prohibitive to use. Making the active more readily available will go a long way towards improving piercing. I'm about as likely to use tstrike as I am the current iteration of armor chink.

These names are placeholders. Hopefully someone can come up with something cooler. I do think a special ability for bludgeon/crush that improves your bone break chances could be cool, but this damage type is already optimal, so I'm loathe to suggest a buff until the others are brought up to par.

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Re: Combat discussion 8/14/2021

Post by Karjus » Sat Aug 14, 2021 6:53 am

So, there's a lot here and in general I agree with most of it.

Only a few exceptions, really.

I don't think the cap on combat skills should be removed completely to be replaced by practice = rolls. I agree with the cap, and I think it is needed in the early game to avoid huge swarths of the game just being skipped. I could definitely see maybe the cap, scaling however? Like, first 10 levels, it is 10 per level, then next 10 it is 15 limit per level, and until level 30, when it is 20 per level?

That means if someone really wanted to, they could get a 700 combat skill just before level 50, instead of the 70 that it currently is and they'd have had to use over half their current skill points to do so.

Next, damage types. Some weapons are always just going to hit harder, and be more practical from that standpoint. Instead of trying to balance damage types, or have abilities that pump the damages to be comparable/more useful I'd prefer to look at the base mechanics of the weapon classes themselves.

I've said it before, will say it again. Weapons need defense bonuses/penalties beyond reach. I'd like to see parry bonuses/penalties, and even (if it isn't already in), durability damage from successfully parrying that factors in whether it is a weapon that you can parry with a blade of, or if you have to use a haft. Give those long polearm weapons that nice reach, but make them harder to parry with and as you're doing it with the haft really they're likely getting damaged quicker.

Also, a type of "crowded/pressed in" combat system might be useful done by abilities open to everyone. Getting fended off by something using a polearm a lot and have a knife? Use the press command, that gets you in closer so they have a harder time "fending" while also penalizing certain weapons for attack rolls. Maces and hammers? Anything that needs a big swing to be useful suddenly not so good. Your knife? You're fine and don't take a penalty.
- Karjus

Speaking to you, XYZ says, "Never bother to wash it. It gets dirty again anyway."
Speaking to XYZ, you say, "I hope you don't treat your ass the same way."

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Re: Combat discussion 8/14/2021

Post by Heron » Wed Aug 18, 2021 1:40 pm

To clarify, I don't think the combat skill cap should go up by 25 per level; 10 is perfectly fine, and scales well with the zones available. By level 30 I had absolutely stopped caring where my skills were at and I've just been chasing the cap. Combat costs a lot of points and I feel you'd have to be a lunatic to chase 700 at 50. I'm not even slated to hit 700 until my 80s because I just don't have the points. It's probably better to just leave it at 10 where it is so we can keep it simple. That said, if Rias wants to do the delayed raising of the cap thing, I guess it wouldn't hurt all that much. Choice is good.

I was actually talking about changing your roll in combat to be equal to your current practice. IE you're level 70 so you can practice up to 700 melee any time you want. Your melee roll however would equal whatever your practice is at. So you'd roll 100 at 0 skill, 200 at 100 skill, and so on all the way up to 800 at 700 skill when you practice up. It'd be more organic scaling ala the other game.

On another note, I do like the defensive angle when it comes to weapons and weapon variety and I'm very fond of the proposed press system. It'd do a lot for small-weapon viability if they weren't so easy to fend off. Maybe the enemy gets a free attack when you press or something. Lots to work with there.

A sling and aiming for the legs is letting me stomp the Liberi duelists but trying to fight them in melee was hellish. With a sling they can't cloak parry or reach me with their toothpicks. I fracture their legs from there (Think the reroll penalty got stealth-nerfed), which really only cancels their combat analysis bonuses and then we swing at each other futilely until they bleed out. It's fun.

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