Monday, October 15, 2012

Weapons Balancing Vs. Knights

Iron Man Concept Painting, Disney/Marvel
With the new shooting/pen/damage system in mind, I've been working on balancing our weapon stats and troop profiles. Here's the numbers that I've got for Knight survivability.

First up, the stats for the troops:

For those just joining us, the Stats are:
Movement (Mv)
Weapon Skill (WS)
Ballistic Skill (BS)
Evasion (Ev)
Strength (St)
Armor (Ar)
Toughness (To)
Leadership (Ld)
Nerve (Nv)
Awareness (Aw)
'Awareness' is new, and represents the distance at which an enemy model can be 'seen' for LoS purposes through concealing terrain if they're not giving away their position by shooting at you.

Model Strength isn't balanced yet because I'm still working on how Close-Combat weapons will work precisely. Those numbers may change radically before I'm done doing that.

Now for the weapons:

Range doesn't really figure into the subject of this post, but the idea with having minimums is that you're at -1 BS if you're too close, or too far away from your target. Autocannons then, prefer to be between 13 and 48 inches from their targets.
That leaves:
Rate-Of-Fire (RoF)
Armor Penetration (AP)
Firepower (FP)
Note that Firepower is now a roll FP or less stat instead of FP+ as it was before.

The BS+ stat is for boosting or penalizing a model's BS. It's a balancing stat who's effects would just be rolled into the model's BS when a particular unit entry is created. Thus you would only see that a unit of Laansguard with Las Rifles have BS4 instead of BS3 in-game.

Now, here's what happens when these troops/weapons shoot at Knights and Paladins:

The Chance-To-Pen assumes that if you roll a 6, followed by another 6 (1 in 36 chance), that you'll always penetrate the target's armor no matter what.  Which gives even weak weapons about a 3% chance to do something to armored targets (giving a chance for hope). For balancing, it's also easier to compare numbers that are non-zero so that you can get useful ratios.

The numbers for average kills assume that when you're rolling the toughness dice in batches, that you roll them in series instead of all at once. So roll them once, pick up the dice that successfully rolled under FP, then re-roll them for every point of T over 1.

And now for the nice pretty chart:

On to the balancing discussion! These numbers can be tweaked by changing the model and weapon stats. So how killy should each weapon be?

As a starting point, since our Knights are running around in squads of around 3, I figured that 3 Krak Rifles, 1 Minigun, and 1 Plasma Pistol ought to kill, on average, one Knight per round of shooting in the open at their optimum range. While each Autocannon ought to also kill one on average.

For the Paladin, I balanced the difference in kills on the Autocannon. So that both together ought to just kill him on average. While spraying a Paladin with a Minigun isn't a sure way to kill him at all.


(EDIT: I need to respond in detail to a concern that O_N had in the first comment to this post, and this is the best place to do it.)

O_N said:
So is the reason Knights need toughness because "6 + 6 autopens" gives Lasguns too high of a kill rate?

Maybe that raises some questions about whether or not the 6+6 rule should apply to armor penetration. I don't really feel like it's realistic for everything to be able to penetrate ANY armor, no matter how heavy, reliably enough for it to be representable on the tabletop. On top of that, I feel like the system is draining awesomeness from the Knights (who are supposed to be super awesome) to give to the LaansGuard and other disposable infantry(who aren't).
I KNOW that Knights who can't be damaged by anti-infantry weapons will be harder to balance using kill ratios, but (assuming we have meaningful variation between the basic troops and weapons of various factions) I suspect that system will fall apart anyway."

The reason Knights have a toughness has nothing to do with letting Lasguns penetrate on a 6+6 roll, and everything to do with result granularity. Simply put, without toughness as a factor, we don't have enough variables to tweak the results to where we want.

To show you what I mean, I did a variation on the chart where 6+6 auto-penetration was disabled, the Knights had T0, the Paladins had T1, and the weapon stats were lowered to keep the kill results for Knights the same as it was before.

I'll go through the issues that I see here:
  1. Paladins are now immune to Standard Knight Krak Rifles. The difference is one point of AP, and there's very little that I can do to tweak it up to say... half of the Knight result.
  2. Autoguns are now basically the same as Krak Rifles, except for the firepower (which doesn't matter now for killing standard Knights). That one additional point of penetration over the Lasgun is the difference between killing 2 Knights a turn and killing none. There is nothing I can do to cut that down except to drop their rate-of-fire to 1. Which doesn't strike me as very logical for a semi or full automatic weapon.
  3. If I drop the auto-gun's penetration down by 1, then it's basically a short-ranged lasgun. If I leave it where it is, it's a Krak rifle with worse firepower. That doesn't leave much room for in-between weapons with meaningful damage differences.
  4. Likewise, there's not much room between a Knight and regular infantry in terms of survivability. Nor is there much room between a Knight and a Paladin. When I'd really like to have 3-4 classes of both regular Knights and Paladins.
Remember that we have more than just GW models to choose from:

Mantic Enforcers
Thus we need more granularity in terms of results in order to accommodate more troop/model variations. Which is why I'm putting some room between Knights and regular infantry at this stage. So that we can have 'softer' Knights and 'harder' Knights to choose from too.

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