Some Thoughts on Armor, Costs

Regarding tactics under the new armor system:

With the new armor system, for a player it is no longer enough to choose the biggest gun you can find. Once your penetration exceeds your target’s armor, more penetration is going to cost you without providing much more damage. In terms of unit choice, the best strategy is to choose a gun that provides the right amount of penetration to get through your enemy’s armor, and prevent them from doing the same to you. If your gun is too weak, you won’t be able to damage your enemy. If your gun is too strong, it will be too expensive, and the enemy can overwhelm you with numbers.

Your choice of units will determine the range at which you want to fight. If you have a heavy tank with a powerful gun and thick armor, stay at long range–the dropoff of penetration with range will hurt your opponent more than you. Likewise, if you have weaker guns and armor, try to close with your enemy. You’ll suffer a little more damage but at least your shells will have a chance at penetrating the opposing weapons.

Regarding costs and vehicle differentiation:

Currently, ARMOR_SCALE is set to 20 mm. The lower ARMOR_SCALE the more effective heavy armor is and the more necessary it is to have a powerful gun to defeat it. I picked an ARMOR_SCALE of 20 because that puts 3-4 Shermans on par with a Tiger, which is in-line with their old costs. Lowering ARMOR_SCALE might be interesting, but it would also mean that we would have to make heavy tanks more expensive.

Which brings me to the larger point: vehicle costs. We have several conflicting goals as far as this is concerned:

  1. We want units to feel unique.
  2. We want unit costs to reflect how powerful they are.
  3. We do not want units to be so expensive as to be infeasible to build.
  4. We do not want too many units to be on the field at a time due to performance issues.

Let us skip the first point for now and see how well the current game fits the other three. Infantry, excepting AT infantry, are rather ineffective against vehicles. Furthermore, the pinning system discourages a primary focus on infantry unless the map has low resource density–the more infantry one has, the more vulnerable they are to pinning and explosive weapons. Therefore, I would say that non-AT infantry, once the vehicle stage has been reached, are not good at eliminating the enemy’s fighting force, but rather primarily serve the following duties:

  • Capturing flags.
  • Defeating enemy infantry.
  • Screening vehicles from enemy AT infantry.
  • Keeping enemy vehicles from penetrating one’s line by threat of grenades.

Even if infantry are not effective combatants compared to vehicles, I believe these roles will ensure that infantry always have a role, though it may not be as a major damaging force. In terms of performance, it is probably not desirable to make an infantry focus a good option, so perhaps this is not such a bad thing.

Current vehicle costs need some help. I believe that the tank destroyer cost increases that were made a while back were a bit too strong; although tanks are still quite a bit more expensive than tank destroyers with comparable AT guns, tanks are also generally tougher, better armored, and have anti-infantry capability. I believe there is a larger problem, though, which is that light vehicles and tanks are obsoleted by mediums and heavies, holding a temporary advantage only due to their more accessible position in the tech tree. At current stats, you may only get two armored cars or 1.5 light tanks for the cost of a medium tank, which they have no chance on the battlefield against with such a small numerical advantage. Their advantage in anti-infantry capability is also questionable; although they are cheaper and thus give you more bullets per cost, a medium tank fires a larger HE shell and is less vulnerable to infantry attack.

One solution would be to increase the cost of mediums and heavies–however, in order to keep them buildable, we would have to increase the overall amount of resources. If we keep the same amount of infantry, this leads to a more vehicle-focused game, which some may not like. On the other hand, if we increase the amount of infantry we risk performance issues.

Now, I think lowering ARMOR_SCALE would help units feel unique. However, this would mean that heavy tanks would have to cost even more, which of course worsens this problem.

Thoughts?

i got to rant on a little on how vehicles and armor perfomes in speed/firepower and accuracy the same no matter what “health” it has. whereas infantry gets pinned down and loses firepower and sight everytime a man dies within its squad

since tanks are a single health body right now what about seting a %limit where they get immobilized
red health bar = stop ( oh the Paks woud love it! )

Light tanks suffer this problem as a result of their proximity to proper tanks in the build tree; hence the change to upgrade to light tank in the veh yard.

However, I disagree with you on the vehicle point. Their advantage in the infantry game is generally quite decisive; even if their actual power is not much when compared to tanks, they multiply the power of infantry immensely when used correctly. 5 riflemen and a greyhound or halftrack can kill or pin a vastly larger force, assuming the hound isn’t run into nade range. I’ve spent quite a while trying to make sure that rushing vehs isn’t such an overwhelming strategy that it becomes the default for every game. Of course, the success I’ve had here has varied substantially over the years, but the fact that vehicle rushing has been such an enduring method indicates to me that the advantage they bring in a previously infantry-only game is rather large, and dropping the cost threshold to access this advantage would result in veh rushing once again.

Now, if we’re going to shift the entire ‘soul’ of the game away from infantry and have them basically act as meat for vehicles, that would probably be fine, but personally, I’ve always tried to keep infantry at the focus point, and I feel fairly strongly that they should remain there. I believe it presents an interesting design issue that keeps everyone thinking creatively (devs and players) given the fundamental problem of making such vulnerable units so central to the gameplay. Various approaches include cloaked AT guys that need to be screened for, making infantry the most cost effective source of DPS (tricky once you start talking armor, though), having them get a huge armor bonus on the ground while prone (while adding the balancing mechanic of pinning), giving them much larger LoS than tanks*, having them cloak while prone, having them cloak all the time - and so on.

There are obvious trade offs here; the omnipresence of sneaky AT troops absolutely reduces how engaging the armor game is, since you can’t go making sweeping tank maneuvers across enemy lines until you have such numbers that a few losses are irrelevant. However, removing said AT troops or making them uncloaked would create a pretty linear progression up the tech tree in terms of of unit vulnerability (leading to slippery slope madness).

So, part of the deal with vehicle costs in relation to tank costs is that I’ve never even attempted to make them cost effective as anti armor tools, because the numbers of vehicles implied therein (assuming that T-34s aren’t subsequently scaled into astronomical price ranges) would make infantry obsolete (flozi remember greyhound rushing, and the utter uselessness of infantry even in massive numbers).

I’m not yet sure what this all implies as to an approach on cost fixing, though.

*Incidentally, this is why I don’t want to bring scouts back as an individual squad, journ. Part of why armor can’t just suddenly dominate the game when it shows up is that it requires supporting infantry for various reasons (until you just have an absurd amount of armor). Keeping those infantry intact while also not getting your tank AT ninja’d is part of the game (figuring out how densely to screen and out far out while balancing that by the enemy’s anti-infantry output so your guys don’t get left without armor support and slaughtered). Paying for that 350 metal recon plane is the investment that it is because it takes away one of those infantry support roles.

I wasn’t trying to say that light vehicles are useless overall–indeed, I agree that they can, and often do, provide a great advantage when they first appear.

Some possible options:

  • Make light vehicles cheaper. This has obvious problems for infantry combat as you outlined above.
  • Make tanks (and probably AT troops/guns as well) more expensive. To make light vehicles viable in a vehicle-to-vehicle context, I estimate that tanks would have to be two to three times as expensive as they are now. This would probably price them out of the viable range.
  • Make both infantry and light vehicles cheaper. This would encourage larger amounts of infantry; while not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, this would lead to performance issues.
  • Make infantry more powerful. You cannot realistically expect a non-AT infantry to do anything against a tank at range, and not much more against light vehicles.
  • Make AT troops more powerful against tanks to make infantry more essential. It seems like this is already the case, though, and I don’t know how much more we can make it so.
  • Make light vehicles more powerful against tanks. I could increase their AP shell damage some which could help in this regard. They still won’t be able to penetrate heavy armor but it may make some flanking attacks worthwhile.
  • Make light vehicles less powerful against infantry, but cheaper (this will indirectly make them more cost-effective against tanks). I’ll need to explore this one more.

I also just thought up a ridiculous strategy: flushing AT infantry during a tank breakthrough using trucks. I don’t think I could micro well enough to coordinate such a thing though, and I don’t know if it would actually be cost-effective.

Edit: Nemo tells me Godde tried that but it didn’t work because trucks are too vulnerable to small arms.

What I see as an ideal model for the vehicle-vehicle combat dynamic: you want to match your gun to the opponent’s armor while preventing them from doing the same to you. In general, this means the following:

If the enemy has heavy tanks, expensive with heavy armor and guns, you want lightly-armored but heavily-armed tank destroyers (e.g. M10 Wolverine). You’ll be able to afford many more of them than the enemy has heavy tanks, and their heavy armor is of little advantage.

If the enemy has tank destroyers, you want light vehicles and tanks (e.g. T-60). You’ll be able to afford even more of them, and with a limited number of guns and thin armor, the enemy will not be able to hold off your swarms.

If the enemy has light vehicles and tanks, you’ll want medium tanks or heavily armored tanks (e.g. Churchill). The light vehicles won’t be able to get through your armor, whereas you can destroy them with ease.

If the enemy has medium tanks, you’ll want heavy tanks (e.g. Tiger). Again, they won’t be able to get through your armor, but you can destroy them easily, especially at range.

Yep, I agree entirely.

right now AT infantry have a hell of a time hitting moving tanks at a angle not coming directly at them straight on.

once your tank army is on the move you really dont need supply trucks too much.

It really requires big soak groups, almost twenty tanks, really. You need to have the trucks inside two full lines of armour… but you could also use heavy halftracks. I did it once against C.R.A.I.G. in testing…

H L L M M M H

H M h h h h h h L
H L L M M M M

I believe that was the configuration. I lost two light tanks and two medium tanks during the break through, one halftrack during unloading.

where in the source code can ARMOR_SCALE be found?

LuaRules/Gadgets/game_armor.lua

It’s been quite a while since the rests of the posts here were written, though, so a lot has changed (for one, the penetration formula now has a different form).