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Grim110

Drones. Too good? (Edit: nerfed too much?)

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After 5 games they've all played out roughly the same as far as drone use goes.

I deploy mostly fighters. During the first two turns, drones and enemy SAS dogfight each other into oblivion, and pretty quickly too, fighter vs fighter generally results in both sides wiping each other out. Late in the second turn my carrier activates and launches bombers. Free from enemy fighters the bombers do nasty things to the enemy ships, more are launched for next turn.

They seem to be on par with enemy SAS in regards to durability, with swarm tactics and hunter MARs they excel at what they do, and they just keep coming.

If you save your carrier activation until after some drones have ditched the production line isn't slowed too much either.

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What can other forces do to hold us off? Apart from gunning for the carrier what actions/tactics are useful for dealing with our drones?

Do you think drones should have their rules altered somewhat? Perhaps an adjustment in their MARs, more ways to perma-scrap them or even a tether distance forcing then to stay within X" of a drone controller?

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Critical hits on Drone Relays causes permanent removal (no relaunching) of drones, and capturing or derelicting a model with Drone Relay causes permanent removal of drones equivalent to the Relay model taking multiple Critical Hits. Additionally, these drones must come off the table first. The drones in the relaunch pile are only shifted into the permanently removed stack if there are no drones left to take off the table.

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@Will.

Yep. But performing an attack run or losing a few in a dogfight and saving your carrier for a late activation gets a relaunch on the same turn, the drones are then ready the following turn.

@Nazduruk

The Diophantus has proven hard to take down. It's taken a few crits over the course of several games but it appears extremely durable. I make my carrier the commodore so as to not give the Aristotle a relay, I also tend to try and keep an island on a flank of the Dio in most cases so it's not open to a large amount of incoming fire. It also never leaves port without escorts, reducing the chance of torp/rocket crits and being prized.

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For reducing the effectiveness of drones, I believe keeping fighter SAS away from fighter drones could wok, letting ships intercept the drones first and then finishing off the remaining drones with the SAS before performing a replenish action on the SAS.

A straight up fight of 5 tokens vs 5 tokens has usually resulted in mutual destruction. Leaving no SAS to replenish and the drones just simply relaunching.

However at least one dive bomber squadron of drones would force the fighter SAS to intercept before the drones reach any ships. Those intercepting SAS would most likely take out the bombers, but be taken out in turn by a second drone sqaudron of fighters. The result being an SAS unit lost and unable to replenish, with the drones simply relaunching.

Additionally if the enemy force has any fliers, fighter drones provide an additional threat as they are quite apt at causing damage, usually a crit, sometimes 2. The SAS may be able to out manouver drones as above but the fliers are usually slower and less manouverable and are prone to getting swamped by multiple squadrons. Simply attack with drones, ditch, relaunch, repeat.

In conclusion, I think at best you can delay drones but not outfight them in the long term. Leaving carrier assassination as the most efficient way to stop them. The Diophantus however is a beast with the ability to lurk, ample DR and CR, great escorts and a decent amount of elite crew it's difficult to take out.

Any other thoughts?

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As far as rules go. There's a few possibilities on reducing their effectiveness as ATM 5 fighter drones are more destructive than most fighter SAS. Both usually have 2AA with hunter MAR but drones get the swarm MAR.

The swarm MAR fits however. So perhaps reducing drone size to 3-4 instead of 3-5 would balance things out a bit, Also reducing LAS to 8. Making the drones a little less numerous but better in the long run with the ability to relaunch.

Or perhaps remove the hunter MARs but start with additional drones? Making them more numerous but less effective, enhancing that swarm feel.

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They are crazy good, they received a crazy amount of buffs when the game transitioned into 2.0, while other sas roughly remained the same and the only consolidation b4 that was they were poorer quality than other sas, now they are better. with the edition of swarm tactics, and swarm tactics affecting bombs and torps then redoubtable carrier points on top, then they keep coming back. Its just far far too much.

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Perhaps, if at the end of a turn, if there any drones not within of X" (24" for example) of a model with a drone relay, those drones ditch.

Perhaps even tie the drones hunter MARs to combat coordinater MARs (perhaps 12"), all drone relay models would make good candidates, as would the Hyperbius and Hippasus.

There's plenty options to reduce the power of drones, as I think they are far too good ATM.

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They are crazy good, they received a crazy amount of buffs when the game transitioned into 2.0, while other sas roughly remained the same and the only consolidation b4 that was they were poorer quality than other sas, now they are better. with the edition of swarm tactics, and swarm tactics affecting bombs and torps then redoubtable carrier points on top, then they keep coming back. Its just far far too much.

Yet another whinge from Presidente. /sigh

Drones are good but just remember that it's the overall balance of the force upon which things should be judged, not just one aspect.

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Yet another whinge from Presidente. /sigh

Drones are good but just remember that it's the overall balance of the force upon which things should be judged, not just one aspect.

Only if your are forced to take the bad with good. You can go drone heavy without a real penalty. And for overall balance of CoA, I would suggest you look at the warlog.

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Whilst the warlog is a nice record, I would not say it is a particularly accurate assessment of comparative power.

Not that I am saying you are wrong, drone spam is both easy to do, very very powerful and very difficult and irritating to face. We had a thread on here discussing it in depth and a number of changes were suggested. Indications are that it is being looked at by the beta-powers that be.

The problem is that the CoA require drone dive bombers to be as effective as they are, since drone dive bombers are pretty much our only way of getting sufficient dice (on sufficient hit numbers) to take on the tougher large/massives.

Personally I would be alright with swarm tactics only being applied to aggressive drone actions, making intercepting them a lot safer. I would be alright with a speed reduction for drones (which would serve the dual purposes of slowing drone the drone-recycle and making backfield carriers (and thus the game of sit-back-and-drone-them-to-death) much much worse.

As a side note, I would also like to see some more large/massive options that are not drone carriers...

 

For further reading, suggestions, discussion and presidente whining ( :P) I recommend this thread:

http://community.spartangames.co.uk/index.php?/topic/13839-anyone-seen-the-new-orbats/page-9

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Only if your are forced to take the bad with good. You can go drone heavy without a real penalty. And for overall balance of CoA, I would suggest you look at the warlog.

I was just teasing Presidente. Drone spam is strong but Thamoz makes some good points, particularly about the options for other large/massives and also the relative lack of large dice pools compared to other nations. The warlog is s useful barometer but it very much depends on dice rolls, admiralship, fleet composition, opponent fleet etc etc. I believe that with maybe one or two exceptions, any fleet can beat another on their day.

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The problem is that the CoA require drone dive bombers to be as effective as they are, since drone dive bombers are pretty much our only way of getting sufficient dice (on sufficient hit numbers) to take on the tougher large/massives.

Personally I would be alright with swarm tactics only being applied to aggressive drone actions, making intercepting them a lot safer. I would be alright with a speed reduction for drones (which would serve the dual purposes of slowing drone the drone-recycle and making backfield carriers (and thus the game of sit-back-and-drone-them-to-death) much much worse.

As a side note, I would also like to see some more large/massive options that are not drone carriers...

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Perhaps we need some new large/massive that can deal with other large/massive and kill two birds with one stone?

Although so far I haven't had much issue gunning down enemy larges. The drones help of course, and provide substantial dice.

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perhaps one of the easiest ways to soft nerf drones without changing them too much would be to say "roll a D6, for each 4+ the drone goes into the scrap pile, on a 1,2 or 3 they are removed.

currently they are

A) As good as most nations SAS

B.) linked to some of the core choices of the fleet

C) All their carrier points are redoutable

D) Far too numerous

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Carrier points need to be redoubtable for the mechanic to work, but I think the simplest change is to make every point of damage to a drone relay model perma-kill a drone from the table.

This would magnify one of the weaknesses of the network from nuisance to true problem. It would be a bit similar to thyphs idea (which basically works to reduce the number of drones relaunching) but in a more predictable and dependent-on-opponents-actions manner (which is a good thing I think. If facing a drone spam I would want to rely on my tactical choices more than just plain luck)

So...

Give us alternative large/massives that are good choices and not drone launchers. A battleships that hits hard and doesn't become ineffective after a few points of damage would be a start :D

Make perma-killing of drones easier via going after their parents.

And finally drop the carrier 9 upgrade to the diophantus so that the pericles might again see the sea... Occasionally.

Give us

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Perma-killing 1 drone per HP lost could work, but it could alternatively be D3 drones removed per crit.

I think if it were to change to 1 drone removed per HP lost then perhaps the destroyed drone should be able to be taken from the scrapyard if the hit was not a Crit.

Or even, for every HP of damage a model with a drone relay takes, one drone is immediately removed from play and placed within the scrapyard, if a model with a drone relay suffers a critical hit, then D3 drones are removed (either from the scrapyard or from play) and placed in a seperate area, these drone may not be relaunched.

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As for a lack of decent non-carrier larges, I would be more than happy with an Aristotle hull with differing weapon systems. Perhaps with 2 or 3 higher quality turrets instead of 4, effectively producing a similar amount of AD to an Aristotle but degrading less quickly.

If there is a problem dealing with enemy larges and massives, I suggest the covenant design something for the role. We already have plenty of specialist models that excel in q particular field. I suggest a Railgun!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun

Plenty of ideas floating around in my head for those!

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The main problem with drone focussed lists or drone spam is that its easy to pull off but makes for boring games.

Its not unbeatable though. It just needs different tactics.

 

For example SAS fighters slugging it out with fighter drones is a pointless waste of time and recources. This will loose the game. The trick is not to slug it out with the drones. Fighter drones can safely be ignored by SAS. If there are no other targets fire some AA at them. Fighters should be used to reduce the number of tokens of bomber drone wings. Just reducing the number of tokens in a wing. Not killing the entire wing. The AD of bomber drones (regardless of torp or dive) will quickly go down to the point where they are no real threat anymore.

Fighters should stay defensive and stick close to their CV so they can be replenished should this be required. Do not sepetate your fighters from your main force. It might be a good idea to keep you force closer together than usual. So the fighters can cover all of your units and AA is massed.

AA on the other needs to be used aggressive. The surface units should move into AA range and use intercepting fire to bring the numbers of drones down. Again no wiping.

An under strength drone wing will have difficulties penetrating the defensive AA and CAS of a strong unit to deliver enough AD to cause damage.

 

This is more or less opposit of how the game is played against conventional SAS were fighters are used aggresive and AA defensive.

Some nations are more suceptible to drone attacks than others. A good airforce and high AA help a lot. Some nations even have access to optimised AA units.

 

Drones are also pretty bad at dealing with lots of small targets. A couple of squadrons of corvettes or frigattes dashing out of the AA umbrella of the main force once they can reach knife fighting range can work wonders against drone carriers.Fast units in general work great for this.

By being controlled agressive like this its possible to seize the initiative. The drone user has to decide if he sends his drones after the agressive part of the main force. With good timing and only wing clipping it can be difficult for him to muster enough available drones to relaunch an effective counter in time. In the same turn repurpose fighter wings as bombers so they can also reach the other fleet in the next turn. If the CoA players relaunches bombers to deal with the aggresive surface units he can't deal with the bombers and the other way round. One turn of knife fighting against CoA often is all that is needed.

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A recent issue I've found w drones is when your fighters are too successful.

If u load out fighters early on, to knock down ur opponent's bomber threat, but then take em out too easily, then u can't harm anything else w ur fighters and unless ur opponent chooses to do Interception attacks w his boats, then u don't have anything filling ur scrap yard to launch.as bombers.

Am I the only one one seeing this issue? - my opponents thought we could ditch voluntarily but it's not the case.

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This is true, but often not a problem. Loading out on entirely fighters is not a smart move imo, unless your opponent has a few flyers to make an attack run against.

Something that is technically within the rules (but imo quite gamey and generally not nice to do) is to just fly off the board with the fighters, this sends them to the scrapyard.

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What about a mechanic like this: Every time a model with drone network takes a crit, roll D2 for the number of SAS tokens the CoA player must remove from the board.

 

I considered the idea of moving to a one for one loss on all hits, and I think that might be too much. But this would average out to 1.5 drone tokens removed per crit. (D6 roll, 1-3 you lose one drone token, 4-6 you remove two tokens. Permanently.)

 

Plus of course I also believe that either Diophantus must lose the ability to upgrade to carrier 9....or lose the ability to launch while wave-lurking. (The more I think on it, the more I tend to prefer option B, remove wave lurk launching, same as Kepler....and also maybe increase the upgrade cost to carrier-9 by an extra 5 points or something?)

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I would have to say small changes is the biggest understatement of the year.   Once again you guys go to far!   Lets nerf how drones recycle, lets nerf the movement, which is a huge nerf in of itself, and lets raise the cost and effectiveness of all most all of the carriers.

 

Great Job Spartan.

 

You could of fixed the drone problems with almost any of the above, but instead, you just do them all.

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I think the COA have been hit hard, but drones are somewhat now more balanced. in Isolation i would say its a hard nerf, but compared to most Orbat changes then it seems ok. the only ones not to change too much are KOB and EOTBS.

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