Author Topic:  Balancing Those Dirty Clanners  (Read 5137 times)

14 Aug 15

Read 5137 times

Offline GMan129

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So, it's no secret that Clans are OP. It's obviously not a night-and-day difference, but it is noticeable, and it is measurable - PGI has posted winrates for Clan vs IS matches in PUGs and CW and Clans have always been ahead by varying margins at various points in MWO history.

Real quick aside to any naysayers - yes the good IS mechs are better than the bad Clan mechs, yes a good pilot in an IS mech will beat a bad pilot in a Clan mech, and yes there are IS mechs which can compete with their Clan counterparts - Wolverines vs Stormcrows and Thunderbolts & Stalkers vs Timber Wolves come to mind. But in general, Clans are better, and if you disagree it's just willful ignorance.

Back to business - Clans have been OP for a long time and, while there have been things to tighten that gap like quirks and balance passes, and I'm sure there's more planned in the future like the upcoming "BV" quirk thing that Russ mentioned in the latest Town Hall, nothing has done the job nearly well enough. If you ask me, that's because nothing has addressed the key issues, like at all. In fact, there has been only 2 substantial balance patches for clan tech to date:

http://mwomercs.com/forums/topic/170048-patch-notes-13322-05-sep-2014/

http://mwomercs.com/forums/topic/176994-patch-notes-13349-04-nov-2014/

There have been a few other smaller patches but...seriously. Some of this stuff was buffs. Due to the shelving of the nerf bat, I've put together a bit of a proposal to bring it back out. I hope at least bits of it seem like good ideas to whoever at PGI is in charge of this stuff. Also that they see it...that would be nice.

First let's outline the problems.

  • Clan damage numbers are waaaay higher. Compare the best Assault and Medium builds (heavies aren't even a contest and lights are the one place where IS arguably wins used to win) and you can see a pretty clear picture. DWF-W vs. KGC-0000, SCR-Whatever vs. WVR-6K. The Dire Wolf vs. King Crab comparison is just...embarassing, and the only things keeping the WVR-6K on par with the Stormcrow are the insane quirks that have been placed on the best weapon system even available to IS.
  • There is no survivability-for-tonnage trade-off. Clan XL's are an inherently overpowered mechanic, and they're on everything. Suffering a piddling heat penalty (20% which is only applied to the engine's heat sinks) for losing a side torso isn't even close to being comparable to death. This has resulted in many IS mechs being almost forced to take XL engines just to keep up with the Clan brutality, which just helps them get killed quicker.
  • The rest of the issues (more effective ferro-fibrous; less crit slots for endo, ferro, and DHS; omnipods which let you pick and choose hardpoints) I feel are well balanced out by things like locked upgrades and engines. If everything else were to be balanced, I even feel like we could do away with locked equipment such as the BAP on the Mist Lynx, jumpjets on the Summoner, and MASC on the Shadow Cat. Seriously, that stuffs just inelegant and, for the most part, unnecessary - twisting the knife in the stomach of already crap chassis.

So, how do we fix these problems? One piece at a time. The only thing I'm really leaving off-limits right now is tonnage & slots - PGI hasn't touched them because (I imagine) modifying that crap will much up the introduction of new variants. Not that everyone ever uses stock builds but...yeah, can't make stock loadouts wrong, don't blame them for that.

Clan ER Medium Laser (cERML): The brokest of the brokes. 7 damage at 450 meters (weapon range module & TC1) for 1 ton, 1 slot and 1 hardpoint is ridiculously overpowered. Bumping up the heat and even duration will do nothing but make the weapon system more annoying, it will (and has) address the symptom by making people want to take it less, instead of the actual problem. To really demonstrate how broken these shits are...4 cERMLs do 28 damage, produce 24 heat, and take up 4 tons and 4 slots. 3 IS Large Lasers do 27 damage, produce 21 heat, and take up 20 tons and 6 slots, with only 50 extra meters stock. 16 extra tons and 2 slots equates to 1 extra external heatsink and lets us upgrade the engine from like an XL 280 to an XL 350 with all the internal heatsinks, equaling out to 3 extra heatsinks there plus the speed (with a few extra tons left over). That is just an embarrassing comparison for the Large Laser. So what do we do? Simple. We kill the batman laser.

Current Stats:

  • Damage: 7
  • Heat: 6
  • Range: 405
  • Cooldown: 3
  • Duration: 1.15

Proposed Stats:

  • Damage: 6
  • Heat: 5
  • Range: 360
  • Cooldown: 3
  • Duration: 1

It's still a more powerful and efficient weapon than anything the IS has. It's still got more range, more damage, and a higher duration than the IS medium laser, but it's more of a middle ground between IS Medium and IS Large than it is a straight up obsolescence of all things IS. Plus, it makes it more of a backup weapon system than a primary for most engagement ranges (I might even wanna tone down the range a bit more...but I erred on the side of caution). Oh yeah and this would necessitate some cMPL rebalancing (honestly, I think it's a really strong weapon system which isn't ever used because its range profile is so damn niche, so if the cERML was nerfed we'd probably see quite a bit more of it, tried to be gentle anyways):

Current Stats:

  • Damage: 8
  • Heat: 6
  • Range: 330
  • Cooldown: 3
  • Duration: .85

Proposed Stats:

  • Damage: 7
  • Heat: 5
  • Range: 320
  • Cooldown: 3
  • Duration: .85

Clan Large Pulse Laser (cLPL): This is the typical pairing that gets to hang out with the cERML. Now, it is my opinion that the cLPL is more of a symptom of the cERML disease than it is the cause of balance issues, but I think it's still a little too powerful for what it is. Just for fun lets do another comparison to IS tech - 2 cLPLs bring us 26 damage for 20 heat, 12 tons, and 4 slots. 3 IS ER Larges, comparatively, net 27 damage for 24 heat, 15 tons, and 6 slots. Again, the IS weapons have longer range, but only by about 10% and engagements aren't usually that far away. Clearly, there's more give and take in this comparison (cLPLs win on heat, tons, slots, and duration, but IS has a slight edge on damage and range), but I don't think you can really argue that the balance goes to the spheroids. That does still mean that the nerfs to the cLPL should be more moderate, though, and here's what I have in mind.

Current Stats:

  • Damage: 13
  • Heat: 10
  • Range: 600
  • Cooldown: 3.25
  • Duration: 1.12

Proposed Stats:

  • Damage: 12
  • Heat: 10
  • Range: 580
  • Cooldown: 3.25
  • Duration: 1.1

Those are really the 2 biggest weapon rebalances that I would look at, as they would potentially have far-reaching impacts. Though, I'd probably do something to the others like shaving a half point off the damage on the cERSL and cSPL and maybe tacking on a few dozen meters to the cER Large Laser's range. Beyond that...I think anything with a range of 400 meters and higher needs a progressive cooldown increase to help out brawling, but that's more of a general balance thing than just IS vs Clan.

Anyways, on to...

Engines!

The simplest and most balanced solution is to make your Clan XL mech blow up when it loses a side torso. Occam's razor and all that. However! The thing holding me back from seriously recommending that is that you have no choice whether you're going to run an XL or STD engine in an omnimech, and it just feels a bit...mean to force that on your Dire Wolf, Warhawk, etc. But turning the heat solution up a notch is going to be ridiculously unreliable - the Gauss/Laser builds (which are pretty much the best clan builds...SCR, HBR, TBR, DWF, etc.) can basically avoid the issue altogether by shielding with their laser sides. Which prompts thought of other potential solutions. The first and, again, most obvious one is a speed penalty. Maybe not 50% because that would be utter torture in a DWF, but apply a -33% modifier to speed, acceleration, and all turning mechanics. Orrrr you could say that hey, you're getting reduced power from the engine, maybe it takes, idk, 50% longer to cycle your weapons? Maybe some combination? 20% across the board of movement, heat, cooldowns, some other crap too, because you're losing 2/10 of your engine crits? Maybe you think this sounds a little severe, but remember IS mechs DIE when they lose a side torso so no matter what it's a goddamn softball. Another possibility is to simulate a plasma containment breach, cause some limited and non-random damage (or at least, stricltly bounded random like with MASC) to your CT and other side torso's internals. Maybe like 6 damage to your CT and 2 to your other side torso - 1 per slot?

I'm obviously just spitballing here, but I think any one or combination of these things would help a lot. If I had to nail it down to a single recommendation, I would say:

Losing a side torso causes:

  • -20% Speed (forward and reverse), Turn Rate, Torso Twist Rate, (De)Acceleration
  • +20% to all Weapon Cooldowns
  • -20% to maximum heat and heat dissipation on top of losing all heat sinks that were in the lost components (sorta implemented but not really)
  • 20% damage to current internal structure on the CT and opposite Side Torso (this way, you can't die from it)

So yeah. That's, in a nutshell, what I think PGI should do. And doing so means that whatever they're implementing to replace the ridiculous quirks has a much better chance of working.

pigipls



GMan129 is currently an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and recently begun writing at NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal and Patreon accounts!
« Last Edit: 14 Aug 15 by Cattra Kell »

14 Aug 15

Reply #1

Offline jay35

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I prefer this suggestion for improving IS engines rather than arbitrarily nerfing Clan engines.

And if they fix the CERML, a large percentage of Clan OPness will go away immediately. They can tweak a few other specific laser weapons, too. And we won't need to touch Clan engines.

I really, really hope they don't ruin Clan XL engines because that sort of holistic change affects ALL the Clan omnimechs and that means the half of them that already are sub-par will be instant shelf mechs. There is also no alternative like IS has with the standard engine series, so you're forcing a massive weakness onto Clan mechs that is not intended and cannot be avoided. I get it that some people are just savages that don't really care about balance and just want to punish everyone that owns Clan mechs, but no, it's a bad idea.

Most Clan mechs lose half or more of their firepower once you slice a side off (often more because so many of them are sort of forced into boating weapons on one side due to their omnipods often having little or no weapon slots in the other ST). So once you've shot off half their mech, they're already incredibly weakened, and most have limited fighting capability left in them. There's no reason to add insult to injury and punish them more with maneuverability penalties, arbitrary heat penalties (they've already just lost half or more of their external heatsinks), or instant death.

Give IS engines the benefits Quicksilver described instead. Use the carrot instead of the stick.
« Last Edit: 14 Aug 15 by jay35 »

14 Aug 15

Reply #2

Offline Keekat

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Clan laser range does need to be brought down but in a way that retains the different feel of the weapons.

Clan lasers should have a long falloff range and a shorter optimal range.

This allows clan mechs to still fight at long range from cover for less damage, but forces them to fight at much closer range if they want to deal full damage. At close range with less cover options, the heat cost of clan weapons starts to come in to play by giving cooler running IS mechs the chance to out DPS the clan mechs.


Quote
Most Clan mechs lose half or more of their firepower once you slice a side off (often more because so many of them are sort of forced into boating weapons on one side due to their omnipods often having little or no weapon slots in the other ST). So once you've shot off half their mech, they're already incredibly weakened, and most have limited fighting capability left in them. There's no reason to add insult to injury and punish them more with maneuverability penalties, arbitrary heat penalties (they've already just lost half or more of their external heatsinks), or instant death.

So are IS standard engine mechs, and they've payed a significant tonnage cost for that.

14 Aug 15

Reply #3

Offline Crusadiar

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Continuously nerfing Clan Tech is not how you are going achieve a perfect balance. As you have outlined, there are to many advantages over Clan Tech: Engines, Weapons, Pod Space, etc.

In the olden days when MechCommander and MechWarrior (2,3,4) players had their own form of community warfare and leagues. Specifically during invasions, bidding would take place in order between units to determine the amount of tonnage that would drop during a match, after bidding concluded and a final value was reached, the Inner sphere players would have a clear advantage in the tonnage that they were allowed to take (100 or 200 tons) over that of the clans (if I remember right the MechCommander client did this automatically).

If PGI does it right, the battle value will take place in the form of bidding. Even if the BV of clan tech is higher than the IS, the IS would be able to field more mechs (or higher tonnage mechs). This would only work if changes to the current drop methods on all of the battle modes were changed.

1) In pug matches, if a mix of IS and Clan tech were allowed, the BV would be the same for each side (kind of what they do for player ELO).

2) Have a Clan vs. Innersphere bucket during pug matches, however that would obviously create another bucket with the of the different modes that are already out and players could not bring mixed tech to matches like they can now.

3) This would even be more difficult in Community Warfare with its current inception, instead of a 250 tonnage value for your drop deck, maybe have a 250 battle value? allowing the Innersphere to field more mechs or higher tonnage mechs.


Continuously nerfing Clan Tech or continuously buffing Innersphere mechs (in the form of quirks) is not going to solve the balance problem. The only thing it does is take a way from the source books and field manuals that a lot of the older players grew up on. If you want to play the game as it was written, you need to leave all values and create a way to balance the two out.

For those who are not familiar with bidding, bidding would take place between two Clan forces, in order to settle a dispute and to minimize the lose of military assets between the clans.

Anyway, that is my 2 cents.

14 Aug 15

Reply #4

Offline JagdFlanker

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i think it could be simpler - decrease the heat of IS weapons so they can do equivalent damage over time compared to clan weapons without overheating.  why is the ML 4 damage for 5 heat, or even worse the SL 3 dmg for 2 heat when their ranges are so much more inferior to the clan versions?

14 Aug 15

Reply #5

Offline GMan129

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Continuously nerfing Clan Tech is not how you are going achieve a perfect balance. As you have outlined, there are to many advantages over Clan Tech: Engines, Weapons, Pod Space, etc.

...

Continuously nerfing Clan Tech or continuously buffing Innersphere mechs (in the form of quirks) is not going to solve the balance problem. The only thing it does is take a way from the source books and field manuals that a lot of the older players grew up on. If you want to play the game as it was written, you need to leave all values and create a way to balance the two out.

I agree in theory, but like, the most basic principle of balancing shit is "if its OP nerf it, if its underpowered buff it". or at least it should be. clans have been nerfed once (the second time was half buff half nerf soooo no). OBVIOUSLY it didnt go far enough. and all the problems with clantech that are intrinsic to the tech base (locked upgrades and engine) are pretty well balanced out by thing like omnipods and more slot-efficient upgrades/engines/heatsinks.

and the thing about nerfing clan mechs is that you can actually roll back some of the crazy stupid IS quirks without killing all IS mechs.

14 Aug 15

Reply #6

Offline GMan129

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i think it could be simpler - decrease the heat of IS weapons so they can do equivalent damage over time compared to clan weapons without overheating.  why is the ML 4 damage for 5 heat, or even worse the SL 3 dmg for 2 heat when their ranges are so much more inferior to the clan versions?

dude check out the difference between 1 cSPL and 2 IS SL

1cSPL:

Damage: 6
Heat: 3
Range: 165
Cooldown: 2.25
Duration: .75
Slots: 1
Tons: 1
Hardpoint: 1

2xIS SL

Damage: 6
Heat: 4
Range: 135
Cooldown: 2.25
Duration: .75
Slots: 2
Tons: 1
Hardpoint: 2

It's like...the only comparison in the game where one is STRAIGHT UP BETTER IN EVERY WAY WITH NO FUCKING DISADVANTAGES AT ALL

15 Aug 15

Reply #7

Offline Evex

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I'm not sure what to think of this since it feels like your comparing weapon systems that for the most part are two different ranges.  Pulse lasers are meant to have a short range, higher damage, shorter duration then there standard or ER variants.   I understand that this might be due to the clans lacking a regular version of the medium, small and large laser.  It just feels your trying to tilt things in one direction.   

For instance lets take your large laser example

IS ER large Laser

Tons: 5
Heat: 8
Range: 675/1350
Damage: 9

Clan ER large laser

Tons: 4
Heat: 10
Range: 740/1480
Damage: 11

IS large pulse laser

Tons: 7
Heat: 7
Range: 365/730
Damage: 11

Clan large pulse laser

Tons: 6
Heat: 10
Range: 600/1200
Damage: 13

In general view most clan lasers run hotter then there inner sphere counterparts.  Granted the clan large pulse laser does seem a bit excessive in its range, compared to its inner sphere counter part.  The IS large pulse laser having a range difference of  620 meters at max range versus the IS er large laser range, while the clan pulse laser only has a range difference of 280.  If we were going to even the ranges out to be equivalent to the IS version then we would get this.

Clan large pulse laser

Tons: 6
Heat: 10
Range: 430/860
Damage: 13

This places it with in the 65/130 meter difference the clan er large laser and inner sphere er large laser have with each other.  We can't do the same with mediums due to not having an inner sphere er version, and the same can be said with small lasers. 

21 Aug 15

Reply #8

Offline GMan129

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I'm not sure what to think of this since it feels like your comparing weapon systems that for the most part are two different ranges.  Pulse lasers are meant to have a short range, higher damage, shorter duration then there standard or ER variants.

You'll notice I directly compared the ranges - cLPLs are closest in range to IS ER Large Lasers, and cERMLs are closest in range to IS Large Lasers. When comparing between techs "ER" and "Pulse" don't really mean anything. If you look at your own comparisons, the Clan Large Pulse has about twice the range of the IS Large Pulse.