Watching replies on various factions and playing through the various factions I realized a trend. And most feedback seems to imply this problem. It's not just that hulking ships is too easy. It's that the main guns are far too weak.
So far I've only encountered like three fleet types that rely on and beat other factions exclusively through their main guns and positioning. That would be AP Macro Fleets. An extremely carefully micro'd lance Chaos fleet. And quadruple crit Protector fleets. And as for the Quadruple crit Protector fleets, it's not even the main guns you're worried about. It's the sheer number of bombers and missiles that they bring that will crush a battleship in one massed volley if you run outta turrets.
But even these fleets, which rely on massing around a single gimmick, still get insta hulked.
Special Weapons in general have been the go to win mechanic of the game since its inception it seems like. Bombers, torpedoes, nova cannons, bombs, etc. do significantly more damage to a ship than your cannons ever could over a full sustained minute of firing. Including for the above three factions. Boarding actions, which act as limited "Special Weapons", can instantly hulk a ship in the first 60 seconds of a fight. Or two if you're playing nids. The fight devolves into playing tag with your ships. But a ship with 1 crew is dead in the water anyway. Star Pulse wave used to be in this group and technically, it still is. The damage it does is still far greater than the cannons themselves.
I ran an experiment. I wanted to see just how effective armor really is for mitigating damage. I switched from fielding a few big guns and special weapons to fielding massed fire. Merchant Tau with 7 Gravitic Hooks across a battleship and 6 light cruisers. Meaning I had a metric ton of escorts since each hook reinforces the next, right alongside what should have been a respectable source of damage on their own. They trade launch bays for that hook, but they still have 6 weapon groups. Each Orca escort has 4 weapon groups. Tried it out a few times, and had every single ship in this like 30 ship fleet target one ship at a time. Just wanted to see if it even registered. Not a single ship. I blew up, not a single ship. The IN players I ran into took literally zero damage from this. No amount of guns I could bring could overcome a lack of special weapons. Even though some brought no way of dealing with massed ships, focused fire for the big guys, it didn't matter. Because the main cannons do not hurt. So add that to the list of options in this game that doesn't work I suppose, Gravitic Hooks are an expensive waste of points. But the real problem again is that Main weapons are the Support weapons for the Support weapons.
I'm not saying completely gut how special weapons work. I'm not saying make boarding a losing option. I'm saying that there needs to be some normalization between the systems. Boarding shouldn't instantly kill you, it should take just as long to get to that point as sustained cannon fire from a well positioned fleet. Especially given the penalties you take from getting boarded alongside the threat of getting hulked. Make bombers more persistent entities, out and about for longer and doing more than one run at a target. But greatly lowering their damage per run encouraging you to use your fighters to screen properly. Assault Boats should primarily be used for causing fires and disabling systems on opposing ships, not a massed insta hulk option. Make Bombs, Nova Cannons, and torpedoes/missiles do slightly less damage overall than they currently do, but better at knocking out systems on ships that get hit without shields. They support your ability to beat the enemy fleet by rendering their ships out of the fight, not instantly win you the fight. Support Weapons in general should aid you in deconstructing enemy ships, and not through zeroing out their hull, so your main guns can get in there to do the work.
Necrons are always going to be very hard to balance.
Because in the tabletop they flat out werent. They were so incredibly overpowered stinky french cheese that the best your opponent could get was a moral victory where the necron player phased out but you won on points whilst 90% of your fleet was crushed. Mild exaggeration but they were seriously unfun to play against.
Heaven forbid you play an Eldar faction and they literally ignored your holofields and just blew you out of the sky...
So yeah, I can inmagine why they are having some issues to balance this fleet for the game...
But I think that's where a lot of people are coming from here. The Necron Ships are supposed to be outright better than their competitors. The balancing should be centered around their point cost, and trying to figure out a way to phase them out. As actually destroying a Necron fleet on TT was almost entirely out of the question. And that isn't in regards to the lore, where a Cairn has never been destroyed. Entire fleets have dumped macro into a Cairn and done little more than knock over one of their pylons. The one time one did look like it was going to take any amount of damage, the entire Necron force packed up and left to protect it. It cost the IN nearly everything they brought.
They actually have the mechanic they need to make this happen. Morale. First off Necron Ships do not break and panic so that needs to go the way of the dodo bird real quick. They're driven exclusively by a robotic sense of self preservation. They don't run. Instead, radically increase their current morale and make it much harder for them to get it back. If at all. When their morale hits zero, they phase out end of story. This would give license to allocate the stats the Necron fleet actually deserves, especially for its point cost. The way to beat Necrons becomes less about actually managing to detonate the fleet, but rather through stacking morale penalties. Kill the flagship, critical damage, successful boarding action, ramming, all the little ways we cause morale become much more critical to keep your Necrons from phasing out. It also makes self targeting the Cairn Shroud of Darkness more important, as it's one of the few way Necrons would have left to stay up on morale.
But out DPSing the Necrons in a head on fight? Out lasting them? That shouldn't happen. TT veterans would even argue out maneuvering them shouldn't happen, but that's one I'd happily concede to keep them at least able to be fought against to fleets who aren't good at ramming, boarding, brawling.
If last beta the problem was Reload Dark Eldar, this beta the problem is boarding party tyranids.
There isn't a hellava lot you can do. Even if you field mass fighters, brace, and hover around your defense turrets, they will get through. You can't let their fighters get close to your ships or you'll lose your defense turrets. You deploy your fighters to intercept their own and you'll hemorrhage fighters much quicker than they will. And the moment either your defense turrets or fighters are gone, or both, they swarm you with boarding parties. Being capable of wiping out entire ships crew, or even two ships, with each boarding action swarm.
If they want to play safe about it, they field 3 battleships decked out with launch bays. You will at best manage to knock out 1 and a half before you straight up run outta troops. And this isn't something you can prevent. Load up on every defensive option possible you are still doomed. And it also makes it useless to field a fleet that isn't decked out with launch bays to defend yourself. Because you will run into a nid swarm player. And you will immediately lose your fleet if you don't at least try to intercept.
I know people were upset that brace made launch bays ludicrously difficult to use but the alternative is significantly worse. Because as it stands no matter how many defense turrets you cluster around you will not stop fighter swarms. Don't make brace as powerful as it was, simply make defense turrets much stronger than they are. If you send a single fighter squad at a Battleship it should expect to knock out only a portion of the defense turrets, not all of them. It should take concentrated and deliberate action to get your assault boats on the enemy ship, not be a default win condition.
At first I was questioning it. Did we miss something? Is there a hidden buff under the cover? Nothing clearly stated. No increase to their durability. No increase to their weapon damage. No increase to their turn rate for maneuverability. Nothing. Just a price hike and a nerf to StarPulse. Which was fine. Everyone wanted Star Pulse to be brought down a peg. But seriously, they weren't performing up to par even with Star Pulse being too strong.
Now that they were hit twice, and got nothing in return when they should have had something for the sake of decent gameplay state, Necrons have bottomed out on the totem pole. All the penalties of having no shields with no durability advantages beyond an extremely weak regen. Weapons that outright get out matched by even fucking Orks in a straight shoot out max range some how. And a movement system that doesn't allow for the fine tuned controls that enable them to dodge problems while still not being fast enough base movement. And they still mutiny instead of phasing. The hell is going on. I get that there wasn't a lot of time between betas for the development cycle but at least tweak numbers. This is embarrassing.
I'd almost argue that Dark Eldar don't die quick enough. They are not supposed to be durable by any stretch of the imagination, and rely on the piloting skill of the player to stay in fights at angles they can win.
Space Marines though, they need an enormous durability buff of some kind. Almost as badly as Necrons do. For a brawler up close and personal faction, they have a hell of a time getting into range to start the fight.
You mention them needing more armor. Probably true.
How about instead of increasing their armor, as that would render half of all weapons entirely ineffective and not change anything for the other half, what if Necron ships just outright ignored armor piercing effects. Their armor is always taken at full value.
It's important to remember that we can't actually get Lore accurate Necron ships. If we did, a Cairn would cost 1500, its defensive turrets would kill light cruisers, and it would flatten Battleships in a single volley. But we should strive for close.
I get it, Necrons have already been getting plenty of press. Still wanted to throw my hat into the ring.
First of all this was the faction I was looking forward to most. And it is absolutely painful the way they are right now. Not horrifically under-powered as some might claim. But the only reason they do manage to stay in the race is their Star Bomb tactic. And centering a faction around a single ability makes for poor play. Could you imagine the Necron Campaign being just point click Star Bomb until complete? You'd get bored quick. So my proposed changes, broken into armor, damage, morale, and maneuver:
Necrons are infamous for their unbelievable tenacity. They never really die, and bringing them to a stop is next to impossible. This is not represented. While their armor values are adequate, their two biggest problems are that regenerating hull points rarely has any significant effect on the outcome and their hull points are far too low. For a faction without shields, which is already nonsense considering they invented quantum shielding, they need to have the hull points to endure.
- Hull points increase to be similar to that of Ork Ships. Note that Ork ships are cheaper, and have regenerating shields.
- Regen Value massively increased to 3 HP per second, reducing max HP by 2 per second. This is a significant buff, but one that I propose a counter nerf to in the morale section. Stance doubles both values.
People currently lean entirely on Starpulse Wave for their damage. And while a solid alpha strike can make this work, if it misses you might as well pack it up and go home. Especially if you used your jump to get in range to do it. Plus, it's a boring way to play. Leaning exclusively on a single ability and not the capabilities of your faction.
Starpulse Wave no longer deals damage to Line Ships. It still deals 100 damage to escorts, and the faction upgrade makes it possible to deal 100 damage to Line Ships as well instead of outright doubling the damage. It still instantly clears torpedoes and fighters/bombers, but clearing fighters and bombers becomes most of its focus. CD reduced to 40 seconds.
Lightning Arcs gain a new effect, Tesla Linked Array. Each Lightning Arc (per Lightning Arc) within the detection radius of the ship increases the damage of the lightning arc array by 2%. This effect can be daisy chained together. So if a Cairn has only a single escort with 4 Lightning Arcs in its detection radius, but that escort has a BC with 6 Lightning Arcs in its detection radius, they all link together for a 40% damage increase to all three ships. 10 Arcs on the Cairn, 4 on the E, 6 on the BC, for a total of 20 Arcs multiplied by 2%. Base damage of Tesla Arcs drop to 25 from 30 on the bigger ships. Smaller ships drop to 14 from 15. This makes their damage relatively unchanged on their own, but gets stronger as they link together.
Why the hell do Necrons Mutiny? This is not a thing. Necrons do not possess the free will necessary to suffer the effects of a mutiny. However, they are inevitably driven to self preservation to some extent, and if they feel like they stand to suffer more damage than would be prudent, they phase out back home for repairs. To that extent I purpose a change to their Morale. Note this is kind of a mixed nerf/buff.
- Necrons base morale doubled to 2000. It will never recover under any circumstances. If their morale hits zero, they will immediately disengage the fight with no chance of recovery. Note that the 2000 morale is a flexible number. May be too low. But the idea is to make it so that mutiny and morale loss isn't something you worry about as merely a combat condition, but is a win or loss condition. Part of this is a counterbalance in case they do get the above endurance buffs. Killing off the crew or phasing out the Necrons becomes more reliable then outright blowing up the Necron ship.
Fun fact, Necron ships aren't slow. No Necron vehicle is. Man to robot they may be methodical and particular in their approach, but their vehicles do not reflect this. Necron Vehicles are actually fairly quick in game already. Being tied with Space Marines and Chaos. But they could still use just a little bump to their movement to drive home the fact that these ships are not ponderous. Ever so slightly quicker than almost any of their counterparts, save Eldar. Even though they technically are faster than Elder on TT, it wouldn't transfer well in game.
- Necrons base movement speed increased by 20 for all ships. Ever so slightly quicker.
- Necrons rotation rate increased by 2 for all ships. This one actually is kind of important. The reason increasing their rotation rate is so important is that it helps them align their weapons directly following a jump. They don't get to burn retros for a turn, but their basic turn rate should be better than the rest.
It's about all I ran into towards the end of the beta. The build simply works far too well. The DE shouldn't have universal stealth that immediately kicks in upon their turn and burn, dodge a massive amount of incoming fire, and be able to out damage any other faction in the game. By a far margin. Something needs to give. Their advantage should be in speed, a focus on knocking out shields to open up their assault options, and avoiding getting hit in the first place. For everything else they are given, outright dps should sit fairly low on their spectrum of advantages. Lower even then the other two eldar. To help differentiate them from the other two eldar factions, double down on their ability to inflict morale penalties. Winning by crippling fleets would be more in tune to their lore anyway.