Kushan/Taiidan Assault Frigates are very underpowered

EDIT: What is this ship designed to do? Build info says “Strong vs corvettes and frigates” but selection info says “anti-fighter/corvette”. Yet it can’t do any of these roles decently.

I’ve been regularly playing HW1 races in multiplayer since the game’s release and one of the most notable issues I’ve encountered is that the Kushan/Taiidan assault frigates are very useless in their intended HW:R role as anti-fighter/anti-corvette.

In several instances, I have tried to use them en masse against large groups of fighters or corvettes only to see the battle drag on endlessly rarely resulting in victory and often resulting in an easy retreat for my opponent or me losing most of my frigates especially due to even small quantities of bombers/laser corvettes/pulsar gunships.

For those of you who wish to skip this “thesis” of a post, scroll down to the TL:DR for a summary of the problems and possible solutions. Apologies for the extremely long post but I needed to be thorough and meticulous to show the seriousness of this balancing issue.


To begin with, let’s compare the K/T assault frigate with the closest analogue available, the Vagyr assault frigate. Both of these frigates have similar armament so it is the best comparison to make over the Hiigaran flak frigate:

Vagyr assault frigate (Anti-fighter):
Movement speed: 161
Damage per second: 127
Health: 16000
RU Cost: 650

Armament: 3 x Flechette turrets, 1 x Concussion missile launcher

Note: Can have its armor and speed upgraded and Vagyr have access to firecontrol towers and command corvettes to boost its accuracy and damage.

Kushan/Taiidan Assault frigate (Anti-fighter, Anti-corvette):
Movement speed: 140
Damage per second: 178
Health: 16000
RU Cost: 800

Armament: 4 x Assault gun turrets, 2 x Plasma bomb launchers


To roughly demonstrate the killing efficiency of each respective frigate, I set up a small controlled test where I recorded how long it would take for each one to destroy a fighter squadron of ships. Since the fighters and frigates were on the same team, all damage is reduced to 10% making the fighters’ effective HP ten times larger. Therefore:

One Assault Craft Squadron (30 HP per fighter * 7 fighters * 10 multiplier for same team = 2100 effective HP) for the Vaygr frigate to shoot at.
A group of four Kushan interceptors (50 HP per fighter * 4 fighters * 10 multiplier for same team = 2000 effective HP) for a Kushan frigate to shoot at.

Conditions are more favorable to the K/T frigate since it has more firepower and there is less total effective fighter health (2000 vs 2100) and less fighter numbers which means less time wasted from overkill due to fighter death animations.

Both frigates were positioned such that all targets were always within the firing arc and range of all weapons as the fighters themselves were stationary in passive mode.

Results below. TTK = time to kill (in seconds) rounded to the nearest integer

So the test was pretty conclusive; for a ship that has more firepower than the Vaygr equivalent, the K/T frig took an average of more than twice as long to defeat the same amount of fighter HP.


So why is the K/T ship so bad at killing strikecraft? Looking into the gamefiles for the ships’ weapons reveals the answer.

Vaygr Assault Frigate
Flechette Turrets:
vgr_flechettecannonassaultfrigatebottom.wepn
vgr_flechettecannonassaultfrigateleft.wepn
vgr_flechettecannonassaultfrigateright.wepn

  • Accuracy vs fighters = 0.31 = 31%
  • Accuracy vs corvettes = 0.13 = 13%

Concussion Missile Launcher:
vgr_concussionmissilelauncher.wepn
vgr_smallmissileburst.wepn

  • Accuracy vs strikecraft is close to 100% (rarely misses)

Kushan Assault Frigate
Assault Gun Turrets:
kus_assaultgun.wepn

  • Accuracy vs fighters = 0.137 = 13.7%
  • Accuracy vs corvettes = 0.135 = 13.5%

Plasma Bomb Launchers:
kus_assaultbomb.wepn

  • Accuracy vs fighters = 0.04 = 4%
  • Accuracy vs corvettes = 0.07 = 7%

Now we prove why the K/T Assault frigate is so grossly incompetent as it has a turret accuracy of 0.137 against fighters. That is less than half the effectiveness of the Vagyr’s. The lack of accuracy vs corvettes makes sense for the Vaygr (0.13) but not the Kushan frigate (0.135) since it is listed in-game as anti-corvette too.

Accuracy stats like these do not belong on a ship designed to kill strikecraft. The fact that the Kushan frigate has an extra turret and slightly higher ROF does not change the fact that it is worse than the Vagyr equivalent.

Taking accuracy into account, the actual effective DPS of each ship is as follows:
Vagyr Assault frigate effective DPS vs fighter class:
3 turrets * 95 damage per turret / 2.5 seconds between attacks * 31% accuracy = 35.3 DPS
1 Missile launcher * 90 damage per missile / 7.3 seconds between attacks * approx. 100% accuracy = 12.3 DPS
Total = 47.6 DPS which would take 44 seconds to destroy 2100 fighter HP.

Vagyr Assault frigate effective DPS vs corvette class:
3 turrets * 95 damage per turret / 2.5 seconds between attacks * 13% accuracy = 14.8 DPS
1 Missile launcher * 90 damage per missile / 7.3 seconds between attacks * approx. 100% accuracy * 0.32 light armor damage penalty = 3.9 DPS
Total = 18.7 DPS

Kushan Assault frigate effective DPS vs fighter class:
4 turrets * 64.8 damage per turret / 2 seconds between attacks * 13.7% accuracy = 17.8 DPS
2 plasma bomb launchers * 128.4 damage per launcher / 5.6 seconds between attacks * 4% accuracy = 1.8 DPS
Total = 19.6 DPS which would take 102 seconds to destroy 2000 fighter HP.

Kushan Assault frigate effective DPS vs corvette class:
4 turrets * 64.8 damage per turret / 2 seconds between attacks * 13.5% accuracy = 17.5 DPS
2 plasma bomb launchers * 128.4 damage per launcher / 5.6 seconds between attacks * 7% accuracy = 3.2 DPS
Total = 20.7 DPS

The DPS and TTK for fighter damage are roughly consistent with the results of the test I performed. The Vaygr frigate easily wins all round as an anti-fighter platform and it is cheaper too. Realistically the Vaygr frigate also has better DPS against corvettes as the Kushan frigate rarely ever gets to even fire its plasma bombs at strikecraft because of it’s limited firing arc.

In practice, fighters get one shot by the turrets from both Kushan and Vaygr frigates. This also highlights the only advantage that the Kushan has which is that it deals less overkill as it has lower damage yet a slightly higher rate of fire but this has such a negligible impact on its effectiveness.

The plasma bomb launchers are redundant at the moment for a few reasons. They have horrible accuracy against all strikecraft (less than 7%) and they are hull-mounted with a very limited firing cone. Yes, plasma bombs are an anti-frigate/capital weapon but it is mounted on a ship designed to defeat strikecraft.

Another annoyance is that the AI will only actively point the bow of the ship to aim these weapons at frigate-sized targets and above. This is one of the main problems with Assault frigate AI when fighting strikecraft - once the ship is within firing range, it does not care what orientation the ship is in which often leads to the bomb launchers never hitting anything and targets positioned out of some of the turrets’ arcs.


HW1 Classic Assault Frigate behavior:

In the original game, assault frigates had much more refined behavior to engage fighter and corvette class ships.

Versus fighter class, the ship would point towards the targets only on the XY-plane (no pitching up or pitching down). This made sense since fighters are the fastest and most maneuverable ships so the frigate’s priority is to keep targets within the turrets’ traverse:

Versus corvette class, the ship would aim its bow directly at targets and use its plasma bombs to great effect with little or no misses. Screenshot below demonstrates the vertical angling of the frigate as it tries to aim for corvettes “above” itself:

This is the behavior that needs to happen with the assault frigates in HW:R if only to make the plasma bomb launchers useful.

If I had an upload rate greater than 512 kbps, I would be posting gameplay videos instead of measly screenshots show this.


TL:DR

Why Kushan/Taiidan Assault Frigates are underpowered:

  • WTF is this ship designed to do? Build info says “Strong vs corvettes and frigates” but selection info says “anti-fighter/corvette”. Yet it can’t do any of these roles decently.
  • Terrible turret accuracy vs fighters and corvettes.
  • Plasma bomb launchers rarely hit strikecraft (less than 7% chance per attack).
  • AI doesn’t bother to point the ships bow to enemy strikecraft which causes plasma bomb launchers to never be able to fire at anything and sometimes turrets too.

What should be done:

  • Significantly increase turret accuracy against fighters and corvettes or corvettes and frigates (see EDIT below).
  • Increase plasma bomb accuracy against strikecraft.
  • Change AI behavior to mimic their HW1 classic counterpart’s combat maneuvering against strikecraft.

Whether or not the K/T assault frigate should be as equally potent against both fighter and corvette ships, on the same level that a Vaygr frigate is to fighters, may be a delicate issue. It’s important to note that HW1 races have adequate counters against fighter-class ships but no decent counters against corvettes.

Given that the Vaygr assault frigate costs 650 RU (and has access to upgrades and CC/firecontrol towers), a dual anti-fighter/anti-corvette role is justifiable for 800 RU.

Ideally I would have liked to have some videos to further cement the fact that these frigates are underpowered but unfortunately, I do not have the upload bandwidth or a partner to do such tests in a controlled environment.

EDIT: Now I’m confused. The build tooltip for K/T assault frigate says that it is strong against corvettes and frigates while the info when selecting one says it anti-fighter/corvette. Talk about a massive identity crisis.
If the build tooltip is true, its worth mentioning that it is mediocre against frigates too.

Anti-corvette and anti-frigate does make more sense since the Kushan already have the drone frigate which is, supposedly, anti-fighter/anti-corvette itself.

I am now of the opinion that the assault frigate should indeed be buffed to fulfill the combined role of anti-corvette and anti-frigate - this will alleviate clashing with the drone frigate and is better justification for the existence of the plasma bomb launchers.

7 Likes

Great work man, and yeah now assault frigates are horrible, in hw1 they were good against corvettes, good against capital ships and very tough, now they suck against pretty much everything and are made of paper.
It is kinda sad it is one of my favorite ships in hw1 for the versatile, and toughness.
It should play like a anti corvette needs a huge buff accuracy on those, also need a armor buff

Definitely support all your proposed changes Ursa_Major. The fact that the Assault Frigate doesn’t know how to properly orient itself versus strike craft right now is insanely frustrating, and I hope it get’s changed soon.

And yeah Kadeshi I feel your pain. I sometimes catch myself building assault frigates out of habit because I remember them being so useful in HW1 - very durable, very versatile. Then I quickly remember how ineffectual they are when I actually try to use them.

Thank you for all the work you put into this. Assault frigates were great jacks of all trades in HW1. It’s sad to see them so useless now.

In HW1 classic Assault frigates couldn’t hit fighters that much but they pulverised corvettes and were very good against other frigates due to their moderate firepower, range (they outranged ion frigates by a decent amount), armour and speed as well as coverage.

You should compare them to Hiigaran Torpedo frigates…not Vaygr Assault frigates.

Their accuracy vs Corvettes should go up, maybe their armour penetration…and their plasma bombs should be better.

1 Like

I’m going to go ahead and assume that despite the clashing information between the build and selection info, GBX is trying to keep K/T assault frigate’s role from HW1 as a decent corvette/frigate killer.

I certainly will do this, although I can safely say right now that the torpedo frigate is the superior ship over the K/T assault frigate (not even taking into account access to armor/speed upgrades and Hiig firecontrol towers) against both corvettes and frigates.

Totally agree.

Well yeah, this is exactly why I increased HW1 assault frigate accuracy vs corvettes in my mod.
I thought think the 13% against fighters is that bad when they one shot them. With 4 guns, it’s basically a half chance to one shot a fighter per volley. Against corvettes though, yeah they were terrible. There was really no reason to buld them.

Didn’t realize they weren’t aiming their bow at corvettes to fire their bombs. Could fix that easily I believe. But eh… no one wants to play a mod, let alone play the game itself.

You can basically make a whole post about every change and how bad of a spot the buffed ships were in. <_>
Yet some people actually think I overbuffed them and are trying to make the HW2 races bad. Nope, just so many ships are that bad like this same case, along with their whole tech tree.

It’s very easy to see how just about all the HW1 ships are weak when you do tests like these. But really you don’t need to even do the tests. It’s blatantly obvious by how much lower their numbers are on most units.

2 Likes

Yeah. Nevertheless, I feel as if getting the devs to treat a balancing issue necessitates presentation of evidence and in a structured format, not necessarily to the extent that I have done, but it is what separates anecdotal claims such as “I played a game and X happened, please nerf/buff!” from those that have a factual basis due to tests and at least some research.

I agree.

I kind of just feel I already did all this math. I wish they’d just copy, or mostly copy, the mod as a starting point to rebalance from. Where the game is at now is not somewhere you can even begin to tweak from.

Almost every HW1 unit could use a thread exactly like this. But it’s not really needed, because it’s easy to just take less than a minute to look to comparable units, and comparable tech, to see how messed up most of HW1 races are even without doing a playtest.

GBX have to know they never even attempted to make HW1 races balanced in MP and that they basically need to start over and look at every single unit except Drone frigates that could possibly use a nerf, and defense fighters a rework.

It’s pretty clear they just threw in random stats for the HW1 units for the SP campaign balance and didn’t get the MP a thought.
It is beta but… it’s been a long wait for changes that took me mostly 3 days to see what was wrong and how to fix, including so much time playtesting. :confused:

2 Likes

The single player is just as poorly balanced as the multiplayer. All gearbox was doing was copy-pasting HW2 stats onto HW1 ships.

Well they didn’t in the case of corvettes. I don’t know how they got those. I guess they tried to keep those more like HW1 ships despite making all the others like HW2.

I would have liked for them to have had copied the HW1 values for the single player, and for “HW1 Deathmatch” multiplayer, with different numbers for HWRM for both HW1 and HW2 races, given that’s the only way the two can work together.

Except they kept the gunship behaviour which doesn’t fit their forward facing guns.

1 Like

Man combing the forums looking for threads like this, I can’t believe I missed this one. Great post @Ursa_Major

When it comes to their accuracy there is also 1 thing that in my opinion would be worth mentioning. Their accuracy would need much to differ depending on whenever their targets are stationary or not. In my last game I thought vs letsrock and I used scouts, inties, lights and he used classic frig/capital ships plus grav. To my amusement it took him about 15 minutes to kill 70 fighters and 30 corvettes which were under gravwell with dozens of assault frigs, ions and destroyers.

Yea I’m not sure for what I yell at my monitor more. Assault frigs not hitting well locked targets or any unit deciding to go off on it own and engage the enemy. Even if I tell him to fall back, even if I hit F2.

It floors me. If I were in charge of HR for my fleet, I’d have frig pilots manning collectors and vice versa. Collector pilots are idiots, but at least they follow orders. And frig pilots taking their own initiative? Good if I need you to find a new patch to harvest.

5 Likes

LOL rata. I hear you.

I will just go on record in each frigate thread as saying they need some love and attention for all four races.

HW1 assaults need to have bomb launchers that nail frigates almost every time and gunships about 60-70% of the time. They were never meant for anti-fighter.

Ship facing and turret tracking should be adjusted for optimum anti-gunship/frigate use(faces closest/targeted frigate etc).

All frigates need a bit of HP buff to keep them from being popcorn.

Assault frigate UI description should be changed to no longer mislead player re: primary mission.


Even in their current state… by adding a gravwell, and maybe a cloak or two, one produces the illusion of accuracy and killing efficiency.

:smile:


Those are adjustments to existing code.

I would humbly suggest that adding HW2 improved bomb research to both HW1 bombers and HW1 assault frigates would be a nice balance adjustment. One tech for dual unlock.

Frigates are nimble enough to get into anti-module position and pound away.

Just my $.02

1 Like

Exactly.

Even so, players should easily notice their terrible accuracy given how long they take to dispose of corvettes next to torpedo frigates (and even Vaygr assault frigates which are anti-fighter only) and the AI behaving as if all of it’s guns had 360-degree coverage like a flak frigate.

3 Likes

I will bump this because that abysmal Assault Frigate is freaking me out, and i can’t skip that ■■■■■■ ship, because the research tree forces me to build it, and ions is a “must skip” so i’m stuck doing that horrible ship along with destroyers, and the sad part is that it were my favorite ship in HW1! Wtf are those accuracy numbers? That is not a flak frigate! It fits more the torpedo role (anti-corv/anti-capital) than the flak role (anti-fighter)!

“kus_assaultgun”:

“accuracy”: {
“enabled”: 1,
“Fighter”: 0.137,
“Corvette”: 0.135,
“munition”: 0.1,
“Frigate”: 0.8,
“SmallCapitalShip”: 0.6,
“BigCapitalShip”: 0.6,
“ResourceLarge”: 0.6

“kus_assaultbomb”:

“accuracy”: {
“enabled”: 1,
“Fighter”: 0.04,
“Corvette”: 0.07,
“munition”: 0.05,
“Frigate”: 0.6,
“SmallCapitalShip”: 0.6,
“BigCapitalShip”: 0.6,
“ResourceLarge”: 0.6

I will fix it!

“kus_assaultgun”:

“accuracy”: {
“enabled”: 1,
“Fighter”: 0.04,
“Corvette”: 0.4,
“munition”: 0.1,
“Frigate”: 0.9,
“ResourceLarge”: 0.6

“kus_assaultbomb”:

“accuracy”: {
“enabled”: 1,
“Fighter”: 0.03,
“Corvette”: 0.1,
“munition”: 0.05,
“ResourceLarge”: 0.6

There we go!

1 Like

Comparing HW1 and HW2 assault frigates directly like that is not really valid. Vaygr assault frigs do not own subsystems as fast as HW1 frigs do. Vaygr assault frigs are basically mobile plats and they kill fighters pretty fast if you can get a good amount of them together.

HW1 assault frigs are trying to be multi-role, and they’re not good at either killing swarm or killing frigates by themselves. Their best use right now is to kill an immobilized swarm or maybe do a collector raid. If you do get a massive number of them, they actually kill swarm pretty quickly - provided there are no lasers around.

Overall, they’re about as useful as the Vaygr assault frigs right now - which means “very little”. They need a role, otherwise they’ll continue to be mediocre. And their “fix” need to take into account other upcoming fixes as well - like ‘what’s going to happen with HW1 corvettes’.

They are not suppose to be anti fighter or anti frigate. Those are both secordary roles.