sven wrote:Reminds me of something Arioch says repeatedly: ideally, the tactical model should be sophisticated enough that simply designing the biggest ship you can, with the best aviable guns, and building them everywhere is not automatically the best possible strategy. Destroyers, ideally, should have a useful tactical role, one that gives players a reason to build them, even during endgames.
Starting a new thread on this notion, because I don't want to clutter up the bug thread.
When I think of small vs large ship balance, the first thing to jump into my mind is not a strategy game, it's EvE online. That game accomplishes ship balance with multiple thrusts, some of which might be worth adapting for use here.
First, guns are sized for the vessel they're attached to (mostly). A railgun on a frigate, a cruiser, or a battleship are all different sizes with slightly different characteristics, rather than just having more of the exact same gun. The larger versions do more damage, and shoot farther, but they have a mechanic called Signature Resolution, which is compared to the other ship's Signature. A high signature means the target is easier to hit. The signature resolution dictates how precise a target you can hit. So, frigate might be signature 60, a cruiser 150, and a battleship 400. Their guns have say signature resolutions of 40, 120, and 300, respectively. The battleship fires at the frigate. The frigate's signature is 60, the gun's resolution is 300, so there will be 60/300 = 20% chance of even hitting the frigate. Going the other way, the frigate's 40 resolution guns will absolutely connect with the massive 400 signature battleship. Numbers would need tweaking, but this mechanic can be used to represent the nimbleness of small targets in a way that doesn't just get outright canceled down the line by targeting computers, and it makes you use big ships with big guns against big targets, and makes a swarm of smaller targets a viable threat to the big guy. He won't be able to swat them fast enough on his own.
Second thing they do, ship role bonuses. Role bonuses are designed to give some ridiculous bonus to one specific type of system of weapon, to make that ship unquestionably the best at it. If destroyers received a role bonus of say 200% effectiveness vs fighters or missiles, they would be brought along to fights simply to swat enemy missiles. And they might be worth targeting over a larger ship if you're main punch happened to be missiles. The drawback is that these can feel very forced sometimes.
This is already long, but final thought here. One of the reasons large ships get spammed later is because they take so much more punishment. Even if I could make 5 destroyers with the same force as 1 battleship, it would usually be avoided because in a close match I would win with 1 battleship, or 1 destroyer. I don't have to replace the battleship, and my close win doesn't hurt much as if I had brought equal cost in destroyers instead.
EDIT: Perhaps making repairing ships more painful, closer to the pain incurred by having to rebuild a ship? Bring them home, to a dock, and queue a refit or repair order?