Salvage corvette carrier insta-capture exploit and other issues

As most of you know, certain bulky ships (Shipyards, HW2 carriers and BCs) are insta-captured upon being brought to a HW1 mothership with salvage corvettes while everything else has to dock and convert before being given to the player’s control.

However, an exploit exists that allows players to bypass the mothership as the receiver altogether, regardless of ship size, allowing a carrier to insta-capture anything that salvage corvettes can latch on to. This is done by latching the appropriate number of salvage corvettes needed onto the target WHILE the mothership is hyperspacing and this causes the corvettes to tow the target to the nearest carrier instead.

From the salvage corvette’s perspective, there is no difference between a destroyed mothership and one that is in the process of hyperspacing. This allows players to do carrier hotdrops on unsuspecting enemy ships and perform captures at incredible speed.

Demonstrating an insta-capture of an enemy carrier with my own carrier:

At the cost of simply hyperspacing my mothership on the spot (at 0:07), I avoid the hassle of towing the enemy carrier all the way to my mothership or even the risk of bringing my mothership directly to it.
The video also demonstrates the annoyance of salvage corvettes taking inefficient routes to capture certain ships. The Ion cannon frigate is caught by the salvagers and then towed to the mothership instead of the carriers themselves which they can dock with.

Demonstrating an insta-capture of an enemy shipyard with my own carrier:

Please do not point to these videos as evidence that salvage corvettes themselves are overpowered on their own. Note that there will be a combined effect on salvage corvette effectiveness and viability when this exploit is quashed and the Gravity Well Generator receives a strong nerf in the upcoming patch.

Demonstrating that the exploit does work against players, not just CPU opponents:

@aeon_walker, if you were curious, I was the one who did this to you in that game last week. Sorry you were on the receiving end of this. Voices are not mine, fyi.

Here is a flowchart of how salvaging behavior works right now in Homeworld Remastered due to this exploit:

Edge Cases:

  • Case 1: Salvage corvettes latch onto a ship WHILE all receiving bays are indisposed (all carriers and MS are either destroyed or hyperspacing).

  • Result: Corvettes will individually delatch as each of them finish latching.

  • Case 2: MS or carrier becomes indisposed WHILE salvage corvettes are towing a ship to it.

  • Result: The ships freeze but still remain stationary in the towed state indefinitely until the corvettes are destroyed/told to delatch etc. Reinitiating latching after the MS/carrier is no longer indisposed will carry on as normal.

  • Case 3: Salvage corvettes under the control of a HW2 player attempt to latch on to a ship.

  • Result: Same as Case 1.

    • I’m fairly certain the game is indiscriminate about whether or not the player picked a HW1 or HW2 race for salvage corvettes to work and being able to successfully capture just comes down to whether or not you have a Kushan/Taiidan mothership or carrier in possession to tow ships to.

Comparisons with previous games:

Homeworld 1 Classic
Salvage corvettes in Homeworld classic would tow ships to the nearest receiving bay large enough for the towed ship to dock. There was no insta-capture mechanic (everything had to dock first) so losing the mothership meant losing the ability to capture or even disable ships too big to dock with a carrier (such as destroyers and cruisers). Any attempts to do so just results in the salvagers latching on to a target ship and being dead weight.

Cataclysm’s counterpart to the salvage corvette was a multifunction utility ship called the worker. Salvaging functioned in much the same way - a predetermined number are needed to latch on and tow the ship back to the nearest carrier or Command Ship. However, the target needed to be at or below 50% health and the towed ship did not need to dock. It insta-captured (not so instant, a small 5-10 second conversion animation) once it was within proximity of a carrier or Command ship.

Capture example of a ship in Homeworld: Cataclysm:

Summary of salvage issues and appropriate solutions in HW:R

Like Homeworld classic, salvage Corvettes should tow a ship to the nearest mothership or carrier that is large enough for it to dock. Currently, they always default to the mothership which causes unnecessary travel time and distance in several cases when a towed ship is small enough for a nearby carrier.

Secondly, the insta-capture mechanic should only be removed for the carrier, not the mothership. This mechanic is necessary for motherships to capture ships that are too big to fit inside its hangar bay which includes HW2 carriers, shipyards and battlecruisers. Programming them to dock normally would result in a poor display with models clipping through the hull especially with the huge sizes of shipyards. An alternative is to take a page from Cataclysm and make insta-capture ships go through a short conversion process (no longer than the time it would’ve taken if they had docked, converted and undocked normally). It wouldn’t have to be anything fancy, just something as simple as the capture progress bar from marine/infiltrator frigates.

Thirdly, there are some cases where certain subsystems on captured ships cannot be recycled by the new owner. In the 3rd video where I captured those two Vaygr carriers, the game would not let me recycle their corvette facilities.

Bring back the ability to give bandbox salvaging commands like HW classic. Also, salvagers deal damage to whatever target they are latched on to if the player does not have a large enough docking bay to tow it to - e.g. a player only has a carrier and salvagers latch onto a destroyer, the destroyer takes damage every second by each salvager attached.

Lastly, the final two issues which go hand in hand:

  • The imbalance of carriers being able to capture ships too big to dock with it.
  • The game treating a hyperspacing mothership the same as it would if it was destroyed which allows players to bypass mothership captures with carriers.

Making it like HW1 classic in this regard would solve both problems - have carriers no longer able to capture ships that cannot dock with it.

Expanding gameplay

  • Allow players to transfer control of captured production ships of other races only to teammates of that matching race (e.g. a Taiidan player captures a Vaygr carrier and then transfers it to a Vaygr teammate).
  • Allow players to build other races ships from captured production capitals on a very limited basis (dependent on the level of tech at the time of capture and whether it has the appropriate production subsystems or not).
  • Allow players to capture enemy strike craft with salvage corvettes perhaps only if they are immobilised with Gravity Well Generators (assuming the squadron mechanic which replenishes lost ships for free is removed in the upcoming rework).
  • Allow players to toggle salvage corvettes between damage and salvage modes.

Combined these two together to potentially make gameplay more dynamic in team games and captures more rewarding.

Obligatory @scole paging.


No worries, and I appreciate the thorough writeup.

However, with your comment about gravwells: I don’t know how, as Vaygr, I could have done anything at all even if the well range were quite reduced, though I suppose if the nerf takes a different form (much reduced duration, perhaps, or still being able to fire) I may have been less screwed. It’s not like frigates to kill the well were remotely possible.

With GWGs radius being nerfed, even lower than 5 km if I recall (there’s probably going to be some other stat nerfs in tandem), they will have to be closer to whatever it is they are shielding making them more vulnerable to sniping from ion/torpedo/heavy missile frigates. Obviously, this is more annoying for Vaygr players since it is almost always in their interest to build strike craft over frigates at all.

However, those captures did take place past early-game and into the start of the mid phase, so it not completely unreasonable to expect Vaygr players to be able to field a couple of frigates at the same time too. Note that teching for salvage corvettes and GWG meant that I couldn’t field frigates of my own yet and so using a GWG would’ve locked down any strikecraft I could’ve brought.

Also, when the instacapture exploit is removed, players will have to risk their mothership to pull a stunt like this.

I did the same thing on accident last week. Was trying to jump my mothership to capture a BC, but it went to my carrier while the MS was in hyperspace.

So what you are proposing here kind of kills off any HW1 player if they get down to carriers. Is that what you intend to happen? The only way I could see that balanced is if HW2 carriers can no longer build SYs. Once the HW1 race has no MS they have very few options for a comeback as it is, removing the carrier capture completely removes the player from the game. Surely you can think of a better way to balance this out that giving the HW2 carriers such a massive advantage as building a replacement shipyard?

I thought capturing a HW2 SY just gave you an inert block of metal - can you build anything out of it?

HW1 have an advantage with the 2 production slots per CC/MS - this makes up for the SY.

Losing the MS is what completely removes Kushan/Taiidan players from the game since they cannot rebuild it or capture enemy an enemy MS with salvettes at all or build ships from enemy carriers/shipyards unless it is their own race (e.g. Taiidan capturing a Taiidan carrier).

Also, I didn’t say remove the carrier capture altogether, I said remove the carrier’s ability to insta-capture ships that are too big for it to enter its hangar bay (which is anything larger than frigate size).

I wouldn’t mind granting the carrier the ability to capture very large ships provided that the MS was already destroyed and the insta-capture mechanic was changed to a lengthier process like Cataclysm’s ship capturing.

I’m not giving them anything? HW2 carriers always had that advantage.

I think you’re saying that HW1 carriers being able to insta-capture large ships should remain as an asymmetric balancing counterpart to HW2 carriers being able to rebuild their capital production capabilities by hyperspacing in shipyards.

These two abilities are a bit too different to consider them equal and both issues should be kept separate. For starters, I do think that HW2 carriers should not be allowed to build shipyards unless HW1 carriers were able to rebuild their mothership.

Nah, only if it matches your race. You can at least recycle the subsystems on it though.

HW1 carriers have two production lines - they can build an ion frigate and an assault frigate (for example) at the same time with no loss in build speed.

The HW1 MS has the same ability - it can make a HC and a DD concurrently.

Basically, HW1 MS = MS + SY and HW1 CC ~= 2 HW2 CC.

They have this advantage from early game - it makes sense that they are hit hard by losing their MS. This compensates for their MS being better while it is alive.

The asymmetric balance between single queue and double queue are fine for the most part.

Note that HW2 ships generally build faster than HW1 even without the Imp. manufacturing speed. With armor and speed upgrades, a HW2 player also gets more stats for the same build price which also lessens the efficiency gap between single and duel queue balance. Also, HW2 can tech much faster than HW1 which allows them to bring out better tech units quicker.

How often do you play as a HW1 race? Despite having two production lines per ship both HW2 races can so badly out product HW1 races that it is laughable. Not to mention how damn SLOW anything builds in those queues, how many times the building stops because the queue is buggy, and how long it takes to get to any offensive ships compared to HW2 races.

Both races can pump out carriers so much earlier than the HW1 races the dual production lines mean almost nothing. We are still limited to only 4 craft building at one time where HW2 races can have 5-6 lines before we can even start building a second carrier. Lets not even factor in the manufacture upgrades to add to that.

Quiet frankly the dual production lines are far more limited than the single speed build lines HW2 races have.

If the build times are unbalanced the fix lies there - having dual production lines remains an advantage. It might be overwhelmed by technology and extra carriers late game but it still provides strong benefits early.

Additionally, carrier rushes are not a huge issue. It costs a capital facility and a lot of RUs to make a CC - if they do this you can often take out their collectors by jumping assault frigates in. It might hurt mid-game but it isn’t a huge disadvantage.

I would support a change to the tech tree to make HW1 build CCs earlier however. Maybe make CCs only need Supercap Drive and make Super Heavy Chassis only for the HC.

Agree 100%

Agree again, but i would suggest a twist, let carriers also cap this way, so if you cap a destroyers the corvettes first look for the mother ship, if the mother ship is not available they bring the DD to the CC, once at the CC a capture progress bar show up and the capture process starts just as if the salvage corvettes where marine/infiltrator frigates.

Agree, it was possible to do in HW2, wonder why they removed it from HWR

Neither agree nor disagree, i dont see a problem letting corvettes salvaging SC (except if the player is allowed to salvage a single HW2 SC and then reinforce it for free to full squad… just imagine 14 salvage corvettes salvaging 14 misile corvettes so they can make 14 missile corvettes squads at once :S ) but i cant see a practical use for this

Disagree, a HW1 player could capture a HW2 carrier and then build 70 bomber squads, or imagine a HW2 fleet composed of Vaygr SC and Higaran Capitals, completely game breaking

I have suggested that HW1 races should have a tech research that could allow them to build super capital ships from CC via HSJ

Yeah, I forgot to add a qualifier to my statement. I meant to say bring back that feature that in the event that the upcoming strike craft rework removes the mechanic of being able to replenish lost ships in squadrons for free so you can only keep what you capture and nothing more.

Change the unit cap accordingly so that it counts the maximum number of ships in a squad for HW1 race caps.
e.g. 2 Hiigaran bomber squadrons under a HW1 player’s command would be 10/70 on default.

Then again, depending on what direction the strike craft rework takes, building ships in squadrons might be removed and then all fighter/corvette unit caps would probably be the same for all races.

How is this much different from team games where you can already have strong race-synergy, similar to your example, where a Vaygr player can support a Hiigaran ally’s capitals with Vaygr SC (and even transfer control of them) in a combined fleet?

Note that being able to build other races’ ships would go hand in hand with the other proposed rule of only being able to transfer control of production ships to players who are of the same race. So you couldn’t have a scenario where a Vaygr player gifts every non-Vaygr ally a Vaygr carrier. Players would have to go through the difficulty of earning it by capturing it from an enemy player (with the appropriate subsystems already installed) and getting it back to base safely.

It’s an interesting risk vs reward mechanic - makes it actually rewarding to capture an enemy player’s carrier or shipyard. It wouldn’t be game breaking.

Guess we will have to wait and see how the squad stuff gets implemente.

that’s team play, as you said, synergy; the other player is employing his time in building ships for the team. Meanwhile in the other hand we only have a way to workaround the asymmetrical fleet designs, and even if implemente how would you balance capping a fully equipped Hig CC vs a Vgr CC? capping a hig could let you to build SC and frigs, while the Vgr could only let you build one of the 3 possible ships, similar thing would happen with HW1 fleets

So you are saying that even though it takes a long time to drag that ship back, they still need to wait even longer to capture it once at the carrier? So how do you propose to balance infiltrator and marine frigates, make it take even longer there too? If not then I say marines and infiltrators need to start dragging the the ships back to a carrier/MS as well. No more instant convert on the spot there either. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander!

this mechanic should only apply if you are trying to capture an oversised ship, so if you are caping a DD and you carrier is closer than the mothership or this one is not available, then yes you will wait a bit more to cap it (eg no insta cap), if your mothership is closer then you dont have to wait, the DD docks and comes out as yours

There is talk of ‘balancing’ salvage corvettes with their counterpart, the marine/infiltrator frigates. This is clearly an asymmetrical aspect to the races. I don’t think there needs to be much of a balancing here until we see how the new changes in the coming patch/mod affect things.

But, if there were one thing that we could change, I would say increase the speed at which salvagers drag ships back to the mothership.

I would like to see a mechanic where the number of Salvage Corvettes required to disable an enemy ship varied depending on ship health.

Something like:

Frigates - 3 at 2/3 + HP, 2 from 1/3 to 2/3 and 1 under 1/3
DDs - 5 at 3/4+, 4 from 1/2 to 3/4, 3 from 1/4 to 1/2 and 2 under 1/4
CC/HC/BC - 8 at 4/5+, 7 from 3/5 to 4/5, 6 from 2/5 to 3/5, 5 from 1/5 to 2/5 and 4 under 1/5

Basically, they need the number they need now at ~50% HP with scaling to either side.

The capture speed of marine/infiltrator frigates should also be nerfed a bit - they capture DDs especially way too fast.

I haven’t checked the speeds myself so…

Are they currently moving at there own native maximum speed whilst locked on, or at some slower rate of knots ?
if they are moving slower whilst towing, is this reduced speed the same for all salvaging operations or does it vary in relation to the captured ship ?

If its the former and they tow at there top speed then increasing this drag back speed may be in danger of also making the time to latch on similarly quicker which might not be a good thing.

If I am not mistaken, they move at the speed of whatever ship they are towing back home.