I am aware that no changes will be taken too seriously, but I will recommend some changes here.
First of all, defense turrets currently have 35% accuracy and fire once every 3 seconds, averaging about 0.1 DPS per turret in 4500 range. For simplicity's sake, I am going to keep those numbers as a starting point.
Secondly, I am going to propose a few changes to hitting fighters.
The Big Change - 90% Evasion during transit.
While squads are moving around, they all have a 90% evasion against ordinance (in addition to any other evasion effects). This means that kiting or intercepting squads with ships is less effective. Additionally, ships will gain a penalty on any craft currently engaging with another ship. Ideally, I would like this to be a flat inversion of range so 4499 distance is 1/4500 as effective. That said, if a flat value were to be chosen, I think 25% effect against other craft would be reasonable, with 33% being the ideal and 50% being workable. A group of 5 craft close to each-other would have 2x-3x the defense value then, in effect, from its turrets.
To make this work for bombers, a bombing run will naturally be a 3 second attack run, with 1-3 seconds of no evasion afterwards (I favor 2 given preserving current values). Because of the limited engagement window, bombers will be the best choice for attacking 'fortified' targets, but should expect worse returns.
Reasoning: Kiting is overly effective against ordinance, and ordinance gets far too inconsistent results dependent on who its facing. Likewise, it is impossible to target just the weak ships in a blob at the moment, because all ships can cover all ships equally well, making targeting decisions less interesting. I want to promote hangers as something to get minimal effects against strong ships and stronger effects against weakened ships. They will still have a purpose in bursting down a powerful ship, but will revolve less around that sort of focus.
Change 2: Rework of Fighters and Assault Boat attack patterns
No longer an anti-turret system when attacking, instead they are closer to ork or necron fighters.
Fighter 'average' stats become:
Wing Size: 6
Health: 3 (Alternatively health 2 and evasion 40% if you want)
Damage: 2 Hull damage per second (suffers side armor)
1 Wing of these fighters will do 204 damage to a 6-turret escort, 2 will deal 746 possibly killing it over a minute (before dying itself).
4 Wings will deal 1438 Damage to a 12-Turret ship, 813 if its on brace for impact, 407 including the min armor. A sizeable, but not insane blow for a strong carrier to deal to a lone CA.
Turret capacity basically has a linear-effect against such fighters, 20 turrets takes about half the turret of 10 turrets. Total attack size matters, but only the targeted ship needs to use Brace for most of the result, meaning you are dedicating a ton to 1 ship.
Each fighter would function like a turret in its zone, when deployed without targeting (and maintain its evasion). If deployed to a ship in specific, they would act like additional turrets for that ship, enabling supporting fighters to ignore enemy evasion effects. In this way, even 1 hanger would be a useful defensive tool for ships, and 2 would be a solid choice - realistically halving the damage an enemy attack would do (but not deleting it entirely).
I have a spreadsheet of resulting values with these changes, and more specific recommendations by faction, I will likely make that as a second post.
With the established system, bombers would mostly experience enemy turrets as DR, and be more survive able. Bombers are changed to be more about attacking hardened targets, while fighters are more about finishing them off.
Recommended Average Stats:
Wing Size: 4
Ship Health: 2
Ship Damage: 30
With a full 3 second retreat time, I would recommend 10-20% evasion for them as well.
Assault boats currently do not return. I would recommend assault boats are changed into a variant of the described bomber system - every 3 seconds an assault boat performs an assault action and the health of 1 assault boat is lost from the squad. Many assault boats against one target would have to wait in the queue, encouraging a spread of targets.
Recommended Average Stats:
Wing Size: 2
Ship Health: 3
This has the result of helping ensure the target ship doesn't just lose its entire population instantly, and allowing specialization that naturally self-corrects a bit for the more problematic parts of the game (boarding). Meanwhile higher health enables more consistent results.
This is how I would enable more consistent effects for hangers, decreasing how binary they are and how much they force specialization (though it is still somewhat true, like most things in the game).
How deadly is boarding exactly?
Crew have to be killed 3 times over to kill a ship. A ship with "4" crew, has 12 crew dead before its a hulk.
An weak cruiser might have as few as 9 Troops per step. A strong one might have as many as 15.
That means even for killing a weak cruiser, a powerful boarding faction like Tyranids will need 3 boarding actions to instantly kill a cruiser. Even space-marines are unlikely to be able to de-crew a "weaker" equivalent ship entirely in 2 ships worth of boarding actions. An average faction will take 5 or 6 boarding actions to do the equivalent of two "good" boarding actions, so do remember here that the differences are quite huge.
That said, having 1/3rd your ships deleted is still somewhat terrifying, and even having 1 ship deleted from boarding can be concerning.
If a ship has boarding torpedoes, that will be roughly once more, its boarding ability. That means 3 Space-Marine ships can delete 2 equivalent ships including their torpedoes. Realistically, only half those will hit. That said, they cannot be entirely blocked off by fighters, making them more resistant to counters.
If a ship has assault boats, each one is capable of a boarding action, but they are much harder to ensure a sufficient number of hits
How much can they kill?
This means, that space-marine LCs can, if not dealt with, kill about 2.5 enemies on a good run, for every 3 of their ships.
This is why you have to ensure that you deal with boarding torpedoes and assault boats. 1/3rd your ships get killed off, you can recrew them with another 1/3rd, and then maintain some function. If over half your ships go down though you are entirely dead. Its a very slippery threshold here, and the 'potential' damage is one assault instantly removing you from the game.
This is the range of boarding effects in the game, and why thresholds matter so much. Because you can recrew, or recover some troops, smaller thresholds become radical differences in ability.
What this means for you
For players, one should keep in mind the practical effects of this. If you are being lightning striked you are probably fine. If you are being boarded at close range, and the enemy has other tools - this is how boarding will instantly kill you.
From a design perspective
This means that heavy-assault factions have little reason to care about guns, as guns support boarding little, and boarding supports guns little. The threshold for recrewing ships is quite small, and will chain sufficiently. Likewise, at short range if you are losing against opponent's weapons, you will be shredded before you get another volley off unless you have sufficiently crippled the enemy.
I do think the current design pattern for core boarding is about right though. At most 2 ships can de-crew an equivalent enemy, and realistically it takes 3. This is about right, all things considered. The problem is that ordinance allows hyper-specialization thereby invalidating other choices. Incidental boarding power is interesting, and a powerful faction ability. When you allow people to specialize, you then allow people to refine their win metrics around it only, and this can easily become the only way the faction can win.
This is the case for both space-marines and Nids, because they are allowed to have massive focus in boarding, some spacemarine LCs literally having a majority of their weapons being boarding related. For both factions, I would actually recommend making their assault boats and boarding torpedoes worse than usual, and strengthening other options. An average option in those areas is already dangerous, because of the advantages of specialization. A better balanced system would be to balance around the Razorfiend or the like, and grant real disadvantages for extreme specialist weaponry. The powerful boarding that both of these factions have base is enough, forcing specialization into it requires more robust systems in place than the game currently has.
For the purposes of this, I am going to often compare Tyranids to the closest alternative option, Space Marines. They are very comparable for many reasons, having high morale, powerful boarding, and weak weapons.
To start with, what are some strengths of Tyranids?
6.1 /12.2 /18.3 Average Boarding damage. It costs about 16 points of ship to deal 1 point of troop damage.
Compare to 8.7 / 16.8 / 25.1 Boarding Damage for SM. Its more complicated to measure, but is closer to 12 points of ship per incidental troop damage. SM also get more critical damage from boarding.
4000 Range Lunge on a 45 second cooldown.
120/200/160/160/160 Speed (+88 if using lunge on cooldown)
240/240/200/160 for SM
25s of 4x speed. with 100s cooldown. Meaning average speed is double for SM when using their boost on CD.
12/12/8/8/4 Rotation Speed
20/12/8/4 Rotation Speed
Alright, these are the main 'stat' categories you would think they might be better in. Sadly that is not the case.
When it comes to blitz boarding, SM are better than nids by about 25% in nearly every way. I have not included here the power of boarding torpedoes, or that SM additionally get use of lightning strike, or that SM are immune to lightning strikes when shields are up and nids are not.
So then, in what way are nids better than SM?
A 200 Pt cruiser has about 10 effective DPS for SM and 16 Troops. The Nid Cruiser has 18 troops, and 14 dps. A huge increase in DPS. Additionally, its critical hits start fires for more of an advantage. Likewise there is no way for SM to really deal comperable damage, though they can heavily out-range the tyranids, by double - granting (even including a reflexive and somehow instant charge) 25 seconds or so of fire of the nids, before they can close - if the Tyranids are scouted first (which is not hard, but might suicide an escort or some fighters).
25 seconds is only 250 damage for the spacemarine though. That is about as much as the Tyranid shield advantage on spacemarines. Sure condensed fire might cripple a ship before it gets in, but this situation is not that bad.
That said, the Spacemarine armor advantage means that while the Tyrnaid ships have roughly 3600 health, the spacemarines have roughly 6000 health. Not actually enough to mean that the Tyranid ships are out-DPSing the spacemarines.
There is one advantage you have - feeder tentacles. With a range I estimate to be 6750, and dealing up to an additional 6 boarding damage, feeder tentacles push escorts far above the average for crew damage, and devourers slightly above the SM average (but in a frontal arc).
By my sincere estimates, this is the one way nids have any advantage over spacemarines (boarding torpedoes can in theory be negated even if not in practice).
I was actually expecting to find more advantages for them, and it is true that Nid carriers are slightly better than spacemarine ones, but the spacemarines also get bombers as an option, so I cannot even in good conscience flaunt that. Nid ordinance is also slow, and therefore could not be called a strict improvement over spacemarine options.
I will perhaps edit this later, but I am pretty disheartened. I thought I would be able to find more that Nids could do, but have instead just found even more weaknesses than I was expecting.
Tyranids have Regeneration. A powerful ability that heals critical hits automatically in 20 seconds. They also have powerful feeder tentacles that put them slightly beyond base Space Marine boarding stats. Shroud hull is also nice, though it is inferior to LC native stealth ability.
In return, they only have to suffer worse brawling ability, turrets that can be destroyed with disruptor bombs, instant death on de-crew, no ability to increase their weapons range or accuracy like all other races, no lightning strikes for longer range boarding and the slowest ships in the game.
I will format this to be better later, but am not feeling it after reading all of those stats.
Nids are the faction most resistant to increased vision range mattering.
Even if they had 100% map ID range, this would be very manageable the way they are currently designed. I do not favor such an extreme case, but the sensitivity of a race to ID range is proportional to their actual range (just like Speed and range, not that Eldar care). This is something of a concern for Orcs, where they actually have pretty good range at times, but for Nids this is not a real concern.
Nid does require an anti-stealth method. Their escorts don't have a scan, and are also pretty bad. I played Nids at first and literally had no idea why people though escorts were a good solution vs DE. It simply isnt the case for the faction.
With regards to their boats, it is hard to tell what their result would be in high-end play. I only ever released them at close range to minimize enemy ability to react, so I am not sure its that easy to respond to them. I would expect they are worth nerfing, but nobody got in high-quality testing of this specific balance area.
Screw lore or whatnot.
Yes, I feel that hive-ships should at least have a local AoE morale buff, even if they don't have the absolute morale advantage of your flagship.
Right now smaller ships are quite bad for nids, in real part because if your flagship goes down they insta-run. They wouldn't be great anyway, but there really should be some backup here.
Fleet differentiation is already a bit weak, supporting local morale effects for larger ships (and weaker larger ships) is a great sort of combo to keep things interesting.
de because it puts emphasis on the Flagship. This stands out immediately to me because it provides certain flagships with a different way of play. For example, this greatly benefits the Voidstalker and takes advantage of its already impressive 13.5k range weapons, but it also allows ships like the Obsidian Rose or Phoenix to start the party from further away, r
Generally a solid overview.
Do Necrons get Scan? I ask because Tyranids do not on their escorts, making them have no real response to DE that I have discerned. Perhaps assault boats can continue to chase even in stealth, but if thats their one solution then they are just even more dependant on the boats.
If I were to make a recommendation for the shadow-field, I might just have it act as a very weak and fast regenning shield as well. 100% being a 25 health shield, for example, to take just a bit of the edge off on a fight and allow the stealth to be stripped off with attacks (until there is none, then it would wait till it hits full and vanish from the fresh shield). The fast regen of the shield while moving might make this answer interesting.
Sadly, I was unable to unlock everything, so I cannot actually comment on a real fraction of your feedback. Every main point though, I agree with.
The overall experience is solid. Some clear issues persist that can be fixed with work.
Upgrades, Skills, and Pre-Game RPS.
There is too much RPS right now, largely because of skills or ships that are useless in some situations and required in others. If you have morale damage and are fighting space-marines, its literally useless. If you do not have enough sensors and are fighting DE, it can be a nearly certain loss.
This is easy enough to fix by granting additional choices after you know what faction you are facing. The simplest version of this is to have upgrades/skills chosen after you know what faction you are fighting. This should allow people to feel like they are making interesting decisions, and be the smallest change for the most payout here.
Ship Variation and Upgrades
This is a minor issue right now, and does not need to be addressed. Because of how upgrades often work (applying to the whole fleet), you are often encouraged to use very similar ships. People like more varied fleets, but they are more difficult to play and are not supported by upgrades much. I recommend some stronger synergy effects to increase variation in fleet composition. Ships with unusually high turret count (or range) as defenders, non-stacking AoE buffs, or additional sources of important but limited use effects like rallying, scouting, or fleet synapses. Even if it doesnt fit the lore entirely, adding these should be good for encouraging varied fleet composition.
Faction Specific Feedback
IG, Chaos, Tau
No clear issues. Functions as needed with some unique personal flavor. There are no complicated structural aspects for balancing them.
As established by many, cannot do there job. There is something of a basic calculation in a game like this. Difference in range times the time to close, times the longer ranged guys DPS. This is what the shorter range fac needs to get through to deal damage.
A critical problem for Space Marines, is that they cannot get through that and still be functional enough. Right now I would say Space Marines are sufficiently weak, that they could even be immune to critical hits and still might not be good enough.
My personal recommendation here is to add some range to them that will enable them to close. How to do this is complicated, what would fill that role? Perhaps if their lances were literally 150% their current range, acting as a support weapon so the entire fleet's lances could together try to snipe out engines so the fleet can close. Even if they are not primarily a long ranged faction. they need some of their tools to have that range to enable them to function. As we have full fleets and the ability to focus fire, tools don't have to be as strong as many might expect, but they still need to be there.
Eldar using the terrifying combination of both speed and attack range. To speak frankly, this is a huge mistake. I know you are copying from an existent lore and set of systems, but their design is at its core an issue. Speed makes range more valuable. They seek to maximize both together - DE doing this while also harming the enemy's range. All Eldar have the most powerful movement abilities in the game, allowing smooth and efficient 4k dashes with frequency and good and optional turning.
This is not a set of traits that lends itself to having weaknesses. You can crank their DPS down and have them lose on objectives, but this isn't fun for anyone. Instead, I am going to make some fairly extreme recommendations here, based on keeping flavor.
The larger problem first.
Have their Cloak also diminish their own vision range as well as the enemy's. Make sure their escorts have a sensor ping, I dont recall if they have one, but they did not need it before.
They still get to dictate the engagement, and reveal the enemy. Their ships still defend themselves, but lower sensor range means that they have to express some vulnerability to harm the enemy. Right now they can basically be immortal kiters if player well, and are just frustrating. You can use skills or upgrades to cover getting information.
There are many other solutions, but DE need to be dealt with vigorously. They have the potential to suck the fun out of the game for many people, and thats just not really acceptable. Solutions should be related to encouraging them to close on the enemy (lower range works too, honestly), or to de-stealth.
Powerful, but glass. Fleeting, but pretty deadly. I only lost 1 game with Eldar, and it was to necrons jumping on me and exploding.
Eldar do not really need to make tactical decisions, their speed lets them react to nearly everything. Their range lets them ignore consequences nearly as well. My solution to this is to slow down their turning, forcing more of a decision and allowing more counterplay by the enemy.
Halve their turn-rate, literally (maybe not for escorts). Halve the decay-rate for Holo-fields, so they can spend more time stopped but turning if they need to without instantly dying.
Re-balance around new values (though I am not sure they will need significant changes).
Terrifying balance here. The shortest ranged faction, and also the slowest (sorta), while not being that excessively Tanky.
Currently, they are balanced in a very extreme sort of way, you have to use their boarding boats to win. Literally. More powerful boarding, less powerful everything else is a very dangerous sort of balance to have. They win hard, they lose hard, and their factional choices are a bit weaker than most. Solutions for them are a bit complicated - they do have their strengths, but their weaknesses are quite extreme.
As lame as it sounds, I would probably just recommend some tweaks here. Perhaps 25% more health and shields on all ships except escorts, 25% worse boarding-pod effectiveness, escorts get heavily increased base speed. This would give them more chance to engage on an enemy, which maintaining factional traits. Tentacles also likely should have size variations, as they are an incredibly bizzare extreme case weapon when used on escorts.
Trying to manage a swarm of those escorts without having them ram each-other is a tremendous pain that other factions do not need to deal with. They are the slowest ships in the game, and can only travel faster by spamming a ram-dash that is very prone to making them crash into each-other. Truthfully, I would likely much rather have the escorts have no movement techniques, a significant increase in speed (perhaps +50%, still making them the slowest escorts in the game by far), and a drop in cost - just to make them more generally usable.
Tyranids also truly want an improved sensor technique similar to the ping escorts in most other factions get, so they can have tools to respond to stealth heavy enemies.
Orks are generally well designed, but somewhat overtuned. They are a nice and easy faction with a few valid builds. Their most powerful builds could use some modest nerfs.
I don't know Mars priests well enough to truly comment. I will instead talk a bit about Nova-Cannon spam here.
Nova-Cannon spam is powerful, but does not destroy the game. Truthfully, I would encourage it to be less extreme by halving its damage and making it infinite use, but I understand how that would go against other balance decisions.
Being the Nova-Cannon. Necrons have insufficient build variety. Like Tyranids with drop-ships, their dependence on a specific gimmick weakens the faction. General buffs, especially to regen would likely be ideal. They are in lore able to heal and come back, but in practice they play as all or nothing glass cannons.
There are some other bits of feedback, but this is most of it. I am curious how the rest of the community feels about some of this stuff as well.