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Do we really need different HPs and FPs?

What would you like to see in Freeciv? Do you have a good idea what should be improved or how?

Do we really need different HPs and FPs?

Postby monamipierrot » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:45 am

I always asked myself which is the aim of having unit types with different (higher) base HitPoints and FirePower.

I mean, in practical terms these features could be replaced by accordingly increasing Attack or Defense ratios for each unit type. E.G. a Musketeers (20hp/3Att/3Def) would be the same if 10HP/6Att/6Def.
Why?
I may be wrong, but about FirePower, the difference between a unit with ATT=3 and FP=2 and a unit with ATT=6 and FP=1 (respectively double and half of the previous one) is almost irrelevant, and I bet that stats would be nearly identical.
About HP, I would say almost the same: a unit with 20hp is almost the same as a unit with 10hp but with both attack and defense ratio exactly the DOUBLE than the former one. That's the case of Musketeers (20hp, 3att) and Catapults (10hp, 6att). Their attacking odds are almost the same. The only relevant difference (a part from the Defense values) would be that after the same winning attack, and losing 50% of original hps, the unit with the highest base hp (Musks) would have to wait more turns to regain 100% health, and thus it would be a bit, and just a bit, a worse choice than its counterpart with double the attack and the half the HPs (Catapult).
I bet that this was not the original porpouse of introducing different HP values.*
We all know which was that purpouse. It was that many Civ1 players complained that when they had a superiour army there still was a d****d AI Militia resisting against our brand new Battleship.
To help those poor frustrated players, Civ2 introduced HPs, which RADICALLY helps the best units and makes impossible to beat a far superior unit (at the cost of introducing DAMAGE for the winning unit, a cost which I rate far inferior than the advantages this unit gains).
I have been always a fan of Civ1 and my slogan has always been "The Militia can defeat the Battleship" (see http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=377576). I do believe that the introduction of HPs adds interesting variables to the game but also FAR ENOUGH help for superior units.
Anyway, it looks like frustrated players were not satisfied and they wanted that superior units were almost INVINCIBLE, better without "almost". That's the reason Musketeers DOUBLED their power (thanks to the 20hp) and many later units multiplied x3, x4, x6 their power thanks to the multiplier given by high HPs and FPs.
In general I don't like steep power curves of units, cause I think there should be ALWAYS hope for the losing ones (as well as ALWAYS thrill for the winning ones) but in any case, I think Freeciv's power curves are by far exaggerated.
What can be done?
Simple. Let's abolish different base HPs and FPs. We'll gain 2 advantages:
1. More linear and less steep power curve of the units ("The Warriors can defeat the Helicopter")
2. We get rid of 2 variables which are just redundant and we save mental computing.
I can understand that (1.) could be too radical for many players (some units may have a "real" attack power 2, 3, 4 or even 6 times smaller than before), so I would agree in making up the Defense/attack values (e.g. Musks could be 4/4 or 5/5, still powerful against medieval units but not almost INVINCIBLE as before (a "real" 6/6).
Another making up for helping the superior scientists could be thinked of, but in any case I think the advantage technology gives in LT/GT games is immense and could be rebalanced.



* I didn't check if with some special rule (e.g. with special units and special defensive facilities) our "HPs/FPs vs. Attack/Defense" difference MAY become relevant and anyway THIS would still not be the purpouse of HPs and FPs.
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Re: Do we really need different HPs and FPs?

Postby Davide » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:56 am

Yes it's correct that all those variables contribute to the same final value of unit's strength, and that you can multiply them together to obtain a single approximate virtual value of strength. However, while they are (almost) mathematically reducible, they may better help the user to figure out some additional imaginary features of the units, such as armor robustness for human combatants (leather, steel, bulletproof vest, ...) or weapon efficacy. The presence of the firepower variable, which is directly multiplied by attack and defense, to me serves the purpose to "maintain the numbers low": as it's generally the case that all the nations in game advance technologically at a comparable speed, and it's rare that a contemporary tank has to fight a 4000 BC warrior, so the unit's strength parameters remain within practical numeric values by the introduction of the firepower variable. For example, ancient units have lower firepower values, and we may think of the firepower as an index of the technological progress, while the attack and defense values remain contained within practical limits of about 1 to 20 points. The firepower value also gives me a pragmatic sense of the intrinsic power of the weapon carried by the unit (eg. larger firearms or guns have higher firepower).

HP and FP points don't contribute linearly toward a single resuming value of the unit's strength: as per the combat mechanics, the unit which inflicts damage for first (the attacker) reduces the health of the second unit (defender) already by the first round of the combat, potentially killing the defender without a chance for him to fight back. This is especially true for artillery units. The immediate defeat of one combatant is the clearest manifestation of the non-linearity of HP and FP points toward a final resuming value of the unit's strength; however, they affect every round of the combat.
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Re: Do we really need different HPs and FPs?

Postby monamipierrot » Sat May 25, 2013 9:07 pm

You're actually using different arguments. I'll try to address all of them
Davide wrote:they may better help the user to figure out some additional imaginary features of the units, such as armor robustness for human combatants (leather, steel, bulletproof vest, ...) or weapon efficacy.

Yep. But in my opinion to "figure out imaginary features" (which are once gain nothing more than a variable of Strength) is odd, expecially since we didn't develop some very simple variables such, e.g., new kind of unit class properties (mounted, heavy, wheeled, bombing...) which could contribute in adding spice and complexity to warfare tactics with a behaviour analog to real life.

Davide wrote: "maintain the numbers low"

Are you sure our brain can't handle "100"? Maybe the reason is purely esthetical. Low numbers look like more appealing and meaninguful than a rude "70" or "135". And they fit better in a chart column. If we accept these as issues (!) there are still many ways to avoid it. Just re-think the base combat rule in order to produce less linear outcomes, so we can even keep the Att/Def values <=10 (i.e. 10 different "classes" of att/def strength) and still be easy to have a fast mental esteem.
Also, would it not be enough just fiddling with the actual HP base value (10)? If it where higher for all units, say 20 or 50 or 100, battle odds would be VERY different, giving much more chances to the stronger unit. A fine tuning and convenient modifications (recovering ratio) could be enough.

Davide wrote:HP and FP points don't contribute linearly toward a single resuming value of the unit's strength

I'm not sure what are you talking about.
As you also said, the virtual att/def strength can be calculated, and the outcome can be predicted with almost no differences. Am I wrong? Is there some guy with Math skills that can confirm this? If so, "HP" and "FP" variables are ininfluential in the actual fight, providing the same almost identical results than a conveniently multiplied Att/Def value.
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