HW1 races vs HW2 races. Balancing analysis and thoughts


Sorry but my post will be very long. There is no other way to adress this.

When I first played the game I thought the balancing was not that bad at all. But after some testing I have to say it’s really bad. I am sorry to say but in fact I never played a rts before which such a bad balancing. Let’s start with the reasons for the mess.

  1. Gearbox tried to integrate the HW1 races into the game by giving them HW2 style stats. On the other hand they tried to keep the original playstyle behaviour of this races.
    The combination of these two things is a big mistake. While it’s a really(!) good thing to keep the original playstyle behaviour of HW1 races they just don’t fit in the HW2 balancing scheme.
    I can’t understand why Gearbox doesn’t even look at the HW1 balancing at all. In fact the HW1 balancing has been always way(!) better then the one in HW2. If you have a look at this post you will see why:
    In HW2 the damage per second values of all ships (but especially destroyers and cruisers) are way too high. And there is now a much bigger gap between frigates/destroyers and between destroyers/cruisers then in HW1. In fact those gaps will render frigates nearly useless now, while in HW1 they were the workhorse of every fleet.
  2. And there is another problem which only affects HW1 strikecraft. Those ships were designed for specific tactics and formations. The ones which you could use in HW1. But those aren’t there or won’t work properly in HWR.
    Despite being slightly more powerful statwise if you compare them to unupgraded HW2 strikecraft they will lose badly against them.
  3. Some modules (hyperspace inhibitor and especially fire control tower) will be a problem too. HW1 races may build a gravwell generator but it’s way easier to destroy and more expensive. They have nothing to counter the fire control tower.
  4. The last thing are the upgrades. To understand why upgrades are such a big problem some comparison of HW1 and HW2 ships, their health and the effect of armor upgrades. Kushan ships without brackets, Hiigaran ships in brackets:
  5. Corvettes:
    Heavy corvette (Pulsar corvette)
    Health 1x 630 (3x 400 or 3x640 with lvl 2 upgrade)
    Shipcost 270 RU (625 RU)
    Cost Lvl 1+2 armor upgrade = 1.150 RU
  6. Frigates:
    Ion canon frigate (Ion canon frigate)
    Health 17.000 (16.000 or 25.600 with lvl 2 upgrade)
    Shipcost 900 RU (700 RU)
    Cost Lvl 1+2 armor upgrade = 2.200 RU
  7. Destroyer
    Destroyer (Destroyer)
    Health 85.000 (85.000 or 136.000 with lvl 2 upgrade)
    Shipcost 1.800 RU (2.000 RU)
    Cost Lvl 1+2 armor upgrade = 2.500 RU
  8. Cruiser
    Heavy Cruiser (Battlecruiser)
    Health 200.000 (240.000 or 384.000 with lvl 2 upgrade)
    Shipcost 3.600 RU (4.000 RU)
    Cost Lvl 1+2 armor upgrade = 5.000 RU

Just examples here, this will be the same with every single ship that have armor upgrades. You can easily see how powerful those upgrades are. And they have to be because of the high DPS values everything have. Armor upgrades that for example would give your ships 10% more hull wouldn’t be barely noticeable.
Some of you will think now: “But upgrades are expensive.” Well they are but the more ships you build the cheaper and more effective the upgrades get.
In fact you will reach the point very fast where the upgrades make your ships cheaper then unupgraded ones in combat. Just build three destroyers with full armor upgrades for example, now the HW1 player has to invest more ressources to beat them then you spent for ships and upgrades together. If you build five destroyers it’s even worse for the HW1 player. The other upgrades (engine and special ones) will make the effect even worse.

Not everything is bad so here are some advantages or at least balanced things the HW1 races have :

  • Collectors are slower and more expensive, but can carry much more RU (500 to 200) and have three times the hitpoints (6.000 to 2.000 unupgraded) then their HW2 counterparts, so you will need less of them and they won’t die that fast against interceptors
  • All capital ships (including frigates) have hyperspace drives built in, but using them cost about 50% more then using HW2 hyperspace drives
  • Motherships and carriers can build two ships at once, while HW2 races can built a shipyard. This is balanced as long as you don’t rise the unit caps, if you do HW1 races are doomed
  • You have to research every ship you want to build. Research is quite expensive and needs a long time to complete. But as soon as you are done with it you can build the researched ship. There is nothing else needed. HW2 races have to build modules to construct ships but there are only a few ships they need to research if they want to build them. Seems to be balanced pretty well.
  • Missile Destroyer. A capital ship designed to kill strike craft, the HW2 races don’t have such a ship
  • Gravwell Generator. A device that can render every strikecraft useless in a certain area. Seems to be very powerful but with only 10.000 hitpoints it will be an easy kill for any capital ship. Only useful if your enemy has no capital ships in range.

Now let’s talk about some suggestions to fix the balancing problems:

  1. Strikecraft
    “Put HW1 Strikecraft in HW2 formations too” is something I read quite often here. Sounds good but if you really think about it, it’s just a bad workaround and will make the HW1 races even more HW2ish. I don’t want a race that plays like a HW2 race but just have the looks of HW1.
    There is a better way to address the strikecraft issues. HW1 strikecraft need their original set of tactics (defensive, balanced and aggressive) from HW1. The HW1 formations need to be fixed and actually work in combat again. This will fix the fighters.
    To fix the HW1 corvettes give them their original behaviour back. They aren’t HW2 gunships that can shoot in every direction (except multigun corvette) but they just think they are at the moment.
    HW1 Strikecraft will be fine then, without changing HW1 races playstyle.
  2. Upgrades
    Give upgrades to all four races seems to be an easy and good solution. But this would make the HW1 races more HW2ish too. And HW1 research ships are already busy researching new ships. If you give them upgrades you have to change the research system.
    To fix this issue there is another way which will work better. Change the balance for all four races to a new one that is more HW1 like. Rebalance all upgrades to lower values and slightly reduce their cost. Speed and armor boost shouldn’t be higher then 15% on lvl 2 for all ships. Because of lower DPS values it will still be have an effect and give HW2 races a small advantage in the endgame but doesn’t make them unbeatable for HW1 races.
    Higher numbers in terms of DPS and hull values won’t make a game better. But a better balancing does. And using a HW1 like balancing will fix more issues without further actions:
  3. More then one shipyard won’t be a problem because cruisers aren’t overpowered anymore
  4. Because of lower DPS special ships like gravwell generators will be better usable in combat, so they will be better balanced against special modules
  5. HW1 races now can compete in mid and endgame, without changing them to HW2 races with HW1 optics
  6. Frigates finally will be useful and powerful again
  7. Strikecraft will be more important for all races even in lategame
  8. No bigger is just better anymore
  9. Battles will take longer and give everyone much more possibilities

That’s it :wink:


I too would like to see some rebalancing and you provide some good ideas.

Where do you find all of the detailed data on ships for a comparison? I would like to know the numbers for every ship in the game.

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I’d also like to add some to this, but my view is that the HW2 system is a lot better than the one in HW1, so the HW1 races should be the ones fixed.

-Give them squadrons.
-Fix the salvage corvettes. Right now, you need only one corvette to completely disable a frigate, destroyer or battlecruiser, which is ■■■■■■■■.
-The defenders shouldn’t be an overpowered asset of destruction. All a Taidan player needs to do is to spam those and he’ll be unstoppable. Make them behave like turrets, with one-shot movement.
-Fix corvette movement.

I have no idea how to fix the non-modular production style without breaking HW1R singleplayer, though. There’s too much disparity between HW1 and HW2 races to make for balanced play.

I would much rather prefer seeing a HW 1 balance scheme, you make good points, though.

No it won’t, tactics were changed in Hw2 because weapons no longer shoot straight and hit everything in the crossfire (and miss things that move out of the bullet’s path), they now use a much simpler RNG system.

However don’t find that there is a big difference between individual fighters and squadrons. It’s just attrition from loosing individual fighters hurts, meanwhile a squadron can replenish their numbers for free.

Agreed, fortunately this behaviour is in the game as defenders don’t act like idiots, and if you order corvettes to attack a subsystem they will face forward.

Heavy and Multigun need this change asap.

I would say that a lot of us are trying to make HW1 fit into HW2 and that’s a valid plan. HW2 was very well balanced for a game with some faction uniqueness.

However I think we have here an opportunity not just to both balance AND fix the HW1 port into the HW2 engine but also to adjust some balance problems in HW2.

We could do things like give frigates damage reduction against weapons fired from other capital ships. This will keep them from becoming impossible to destroy with fighters through raw armor buffs, while stiffening their paper armor. We can look at build times for certain ships and change them, or the order in which they are unlocked.

Basically I’m just saying lets not forget this, as we all work on making HW1 port better. Even though it is the most glaring problem right now.

The best way to fix frigates is by fixing destroyers and cruisers. The frigates themselves are fine, it’s the DPS of Destroyers and especially cruisers that need fixing.


Great post.

The biggest thing to me is just the behavior and formation issues with the HW1 ships that makes them not work nearly how they were designed.

Like in HW1, I remember (if I remember correctly) that even though Defenders were considered a hard counter to all light ships, even fighters could destroy them by strafing around them faster than they turn.
But that’s not possibly when they’ll only dive straight into them, then past them, turn around after a long delay that lets the Defenders turn, and repeat.

HW1 ships should behave like HW1 ships. HW2 ones like HW2 ones.

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[quote=“innociv, post:8, topic:108264”]
HW1 ships should behave like HW1 ships. HW2 ones like HW2 ones.
[/quote]And what happens when the inevitable balance issues occur when the HW1 races are against the HW2 races? You nerf something and suddenly when the HW1 races fight each other it no longer feels like HW1.

The races from one game need to become like those in the other if balance problems are to be avoided. Currently it’s k/t becoming like h/v; I’d be more interested in seeing what happens when you make h/v feel more like k/t.

you know, theoretically. If we make the HW1 races more like HW1 and the HW2 races stay the same…we can tweak the balance in no other way than by adjusting the damage dealt from v 1 race to another.

In example:
ACs shooting either Hiig Init or k/t inti could have a different damage profile.

And what happens when the inevitable balance issues occur when the HW1
races are against the HW2 races? You nerf something and suddenly when
the HW1 races fight each other it no longer feels like HW1.

You use different tactics based on how your units work vs theirs.
Just like in SC2. You don’t play ZvT the same way you play ZvP.

Neither game has had 4 races before so you can’t use either as an absolute benchmark, too.

Anyway, you can’t even begin to balance the game until you fix the unit movement and formations.

As far as the HW1 fighters and corvettes not turning like they are supposed to, the only thing I can think of why they don’t do this is because HW1 flight movement is designed around the concept of ships having no physical subsystems so they more or less shoved them into HW2 flight behavior which would work but they need the same chance of upgrades as the HW2 races get. I have found that building 60 defenders is quite amusing to watch as they gang bang anything you target them with.

Agree, too much firepower… or rather too much firepower and nothing to balance it.
I ended up in one of my mods with much weaker frigates, they had 3000 hull vs the standard 90000 for the heavy cruiser, who popped them like popcorns, yet they didn’t look this bad and were totally balanced. Why? Because they were cheap enough and fast to build, more like corvettes, so I could enjoy big fights with dozen of them while still making big ships much more powerful.

Now instead… just look at the price: you’d pay 1800RUs for two ion cannon frigates or one destroyer?

This is a rhetorical question of course, same thing is valid for 3600RUs of heavy cruiser vs two destroyers… who needs them?
Even if they were the same total stat wise the bigger unit wins for certain: once a destroyer is dead the firepower is halved so the cruiser prevails…

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Corvettes can maybe work almost as well as they used to with just a couple of script tweaks with no major issues, I experimented with this kind of stuff for a while in HW2 some time ago while modding, I added several taiidan units to the game including mutligun and heavy corvettes and just by changing these it makes the multigun corvette fire all 4 of its guns in 100% efficiency instead of 3/4 75% efficiency and ups the Heavy corvette to 100% firing both guns instead of just using 1 instead from 50% efficiency(or one side for taiidan)

In HW2 classic (some years ago now) the line that controlled attack was like this, simply located in the ship file from the unextracted big (except the bolded out bit which was my alteration for when I added a Taiidan multigun corvette into the game just to experiment):

addAbility(NewShipType,“CanAttack”,1,3,1,0,0.35,1,“Fighter, Corvette, Capturer, Frigate, Utility, SmallCapitalShip, BigCapitalShip, Mothership”,“CircleStrafe”,{
SubSystem = “FrontalVsSubSystem”,

Changing the original pre-scripted part that I copied and pasted originally (bold part) from a hiig inty “FlyBy_Interceptor_vs_Frigate” to “Frontal” it went from dog fighting with some efficiency to direct firing like a frigate/capital with 100% effiency, which made it very vulnerable but was a more accurate behavior than dog fighting, it did its job incredibly well with 6 of them just being able to wipe out 6 assault craft squadrons in about 30 seconds.

Corvettes should not be ‘dog-fighting’ in my opinion they never did any of that in HW1, the behavior they currently have makes them inefficient and I think maybe if they just simply give corvettes the ‘behaviour’ that is scripted into defenders and replacing the corvette behaviour as an experiment that it could work better and better represent HW1 behaviors, other behaviours such as the direct firing while ehem* ‘wiggling’* to avoid fire like they did in HW1 will probably be harder to do but who knows.

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No it’s just not necessary to make all races behave the same. The answer why is in the first post a good balancing can and will adress that but keep different playstyles. I know that it will work because there was a game where it worked perfectly. It was called Homeworld Cataclysm. :wink:

The destroyer/battlecruiser strength reflects the amount of research and build time needed to get them. They are ridiculously expensive compared to the basic frigates, I’d dare say even the upgraded ones (since your carrier can churn those out as well). Buff HW1 frigates, but leave the HW2 races alone, since they are nearly perfect.

Some ships from HW1 need nerfing, though, like the defender.

Not much different to the amount of research and build time needed to get destroyers/heavy cruisers in Homeworld Classic and yet gameplay was much more balanced between the different sizes of capital ships.
As it stands right now in HW2, a single battlecruiser (4000 RUs worth) will win in a straight brawl against 4 destroyers (4 x 2000 = 8000 RUs worth),

This is flawed and ridiculous balancing as each successive class of capital ship has exponentially higher HP and firepower than the preceding smaller type (and this gets compounded with upgrades) which creates a ladder-foodchain and leaves little or no room for alternate tactics and counters.

To efficiently counter destroyers, you need destroyers or bigger and to efficiently counter a battlecruiser you need a battlecruiser - forcing a player to fight fire with fire to avoid a large deficit in RU destroyed/lost is a terrible way to balance gameplay in an RTS.

HW1 frigates definitely need a better late-game but the main problem is that all destroyers and cruisers health and damage need to be revised.


I don’t want to see HW1 crammed into HW2 or HW2 crammed into HW1, at least not in singleplayer/CPU matches. Anything like that that’s done should be a discrete alternate balancing option, so people can choose. And it’s fine, maybe even the best option, to have a bunch of rulesets we can choose from and some rulesets favor certain races/tactics over others. Regarding HW2 battlecruisers, yes they pwn hard in a straight fight but they’re easily disabled by HW2 bombers (but not HW1 bombers, which lack damage multiplier against subsystems). Destroyers are specifically billed as frigate-killers so I wouldn’t even consider this an issue.

1 is obviously desperately needed, though. Even in kushan/taiidan matches strike craft are doing some weird stuff.

Let’s see how to get a Hiigaran Battlecruiser (RU values might be a bit off, I don’t have the game in front of me at the moment):
Get research module (1500 RU), hyperspace module (~1500RU?) and advanced research module(2250 RU) on one of your production ships. Warp in a shipyard (3500 RU), build a capital ship facility on it (~1500RU?), research Battlecruiser tech (1000-2000RU?) then pray to Gaben nobody finds your shipyard for the next couple of minutes. If you went down this route in a 1v1 with me, I’d be sitting on top of your resource patch with my 4+ destroyers long before you are done. Ship strength fairly represents the amount of build time and resources needed. If you want to find issues, look at the newly added races and features (kamikaze) instead (speaking from the engine’s standpoint).

I think Gearbox needs to read this, at page 26.
Formations and Tactics.

These things are important and the HW1 strike craft were designed with those mechanics in mind.
We need working formations, evasive/neutral/aggressive tactics, and flight model behavior with strafing and stuff.
With Evasive set, ships could strafe REALLY well to avoid fire and get behind aggressive attackers without having to do a long slow loop all the way around.

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