Friday, January 28, 2011

Attack Profiles III

I've been doing a fair amount of testing of the different attacks in different configurations and have come to a tentative conclusion. It's this:

Let's Review
Let's back up and discuss what I mean by an attack profile. An attack profile is a measure of "how easy an attack is to use." It is important because if you have two attacks that are (a) interchangeable in terms of ease of use and (b) must limit the use of them to one or the other it is always more cost effective to simply have one attack at a higher power ('always' meaning in conditions where both attacks are valid--if you have a fire beam and an ice beam and half the things you fight are immune to one or the other, this clearly isn't true--but that's an edge condition).

What goes into an Attack Profile? Things like:

  • Rate of Fire. The maximum number of times you can fire an attack each Round regardless of the REA you have or it costs.
  • REA Cost. If the attack costs 8 or even 10 REA most characters can fire it only once. If it costs 10, most characters cannot do it and another attack (at 8 you can do it and another 5 REA attack if you are Level 3 and have 12 REA--the 5 REA attack will be reduced to 4 REA).
  • Charge Up or Cool Down. If the attack is inactive after or before use this counts towards the profile.
  • Activation Roll. Some attacks are only useful each Round based on an activation roll. You can make the roll separately (right now "Breath Weapons" are valid on the roll of a 9- ... if you don't feel like making a separate roll, use the same number you rolled for Initiative.
  • Number of Shots. If the number of shots per combat is low enough (say 3) that you will likely run out at some point then it counts.
  • Draw Cost or Power-Up Cost. If the attack costs REA to "activate" (and then can be used without spending additional REA) then it might count (this is a philosophical question). If you have to pay REA (in addition to the REA to fire) to "power the attack up" then this certainly counts.
  • Long Action. If the attack is a long action giving targets a chance to respond during its attack then it might count. We are not certain on this yet (it probably matters what other modifiers the attack has)
  • To-Hit Modifier. If an attack is very inaccurate then it might count towards its profile. This is also not clear.
  • SP Pool. Some attacks might come with an SP Pool that counts only for that attack. This might change the profile (it's not clear yet).
  • Special Effects. Attacks paired with Resisted Attack effects (like a stun beam that does damage and can have a Resisted Attack effect to disable the target) may count. We are examining this. 
  • Attack Augmenters. One key Special Effect is the case where an attack doesn't do damage and won't disable the target all by itself. Consider a beam that reduces the target's REA to 5. This will never take the target out but it's hugely disabling. If that's all you have, you'll never win a fight. If you have that and something else good though you're in great shape.
So there are a lot of things that could change the profile of an attack.

How Does This Matter?
If you have an attack of Profile 'A' then we think any other attack of Profile 'A' should cost 1 AP to have at the same level. This is because they are in theory interchangeable and while you get some versatility that doesn't justify 2x the cost (remember: most of these attacks will need to be at the same or close to the same level to be viable).

If you have an attack of Profile 'A' and then another of Profile 'B' then we think you should likely pay less for one of them to be at the same power. This is because although one of the attacks will likely hit harder some of the time or in some situations our simulations show, again, that it isn't worth 2x the points. The question is "how much is it worth?" And that's what this post is about.

Finally, there's the case of the "Attack Augmenter" that lets you do better with whatever attack you've got that will finish the fight.

So What Do We Think? There are 3 Attack Profiles
As we are now testing paired attacks of "regular blasts" and once-in-a-while attacks we have learned some things. I think there are three broad categories that work.
  • Standard Attacks. Any attack that a "standard" character can use 2x per Round over most rounds (i.e. it might have 6 shots or need to cool after 2 rounds of use--or cost 6 REA--but it still mostly fits).
  • Periodic Attacks. The testing I have done suggests that most once-in-a-while attacks fall into a similar category--that is, they are interchangeable. There is one case I know of where they're not: one that's useful on odd rounds (cool down) and one that's useful on even rounds (charge up). It's also possible that an ROF 1 attack combined with an 8 REA attack (most 12 REA L3 characters could use both) would be an exception--but otherwise these seem to group nicely. I believe that with a few notes to prevent those situations we can say that if you pay full points for any periodic attack you can get another for 1 AP at the same power.
  • Augmentation. If you have attacks that disable targets then these are in a class by themselves. Grapples count for this.
The Rule
We are balancing against the following:
  1. If two attacks have the same profile and the combination is not one of the listed exceptions then you can get any other attack of the same profile for 1 AP at equal AP cost.
  2. If you have an attack of any profile you can get an attack of a different profile at equal AP-level for 1/3rd the AP cost (round normally)
This seems to balance and seems reasonably fair. We are taking a character with [X] AP to spend on both a Standard Attack and a Periodic Attack and dividing it 2/3rds Standard, 1/3rd Periodic and balancing that for a standard POV in our tests.

That would make the option interchangeable in terms of "generalized" victory but quite different against different opponents (the periodic attack will hit significantly harder than even a full-force Standard Attack when it fires so you can hurt heavier-defended targets).


1 comment:

  1. While the thought process on this seems sound, I still have a couple questions about some of the conclusions.

    1. It still seems like there's a significant difference between the value of buying, say, three touch range (or three ranged) attacks, and some of each (presuming the ranged attacks cost more); this has some of the same benefits as the periodic versus non-periodic attacks, as you have the higher damage output of the touch range effects when you can close, while the ranged attack is available when you can't. Similar things would seem to apply when you have attacks that are overall weaker but, say, bypass some form of defense or protective abilities.
    (This doesn't mean there's any good way to engage with that which isn't overly complex, but it does still mean that there can be a big difference between two people buying avowedly similar-profile attacks).

    2. I assume the "similarity" of periodic attacks assumes they're operating on the same clock? Otherwise, allowing them the discount would seem to simply be allowing you to sidestep the limitations that presumably made the periodic attack cheaper in the first place (and I have to note, I can see some situations where separately recharging attacks is possible, particularly if they exist in the form of, say, weapons).

    Interesting analysis, none the less, however, with implications beyond just JAGS.