Lairs vs Citadels

I love this statement… and im partially in agreement with you… but there is a difference between trying to graft old school so as not use the cheese combo’s… and then there is vital design flaws/ balance issue or unfinished aspects.

Having a full team of level 7’s spawn in the open against 20 crabs with grenade launchers is not a difficulty spike that can be overcome. unless you cheese… HARD. "oooh dude just shoot the arm with the grenade launcher… yea and get return fired by the arm with the machine gun (Don’t get me started on return fire) Lets be honest here its just lack of certain criteria set on the tactical map spawn… the grand master plan to have enemies developing to fight your tactics… just didn’t work!

Now yes, that happens sometimes… god I remember on the original “ufo” opening the door to the dropship and a green ball of pain killing a guy before my first move… but back then losing one soldier didnt potentially cripple your campaign.

I agree it will become a brilliant game… but first… it needs to be patched to hell for the game breaking bugs and patched for major balance issues.

An interesting observation. I would add that I’m one of those hardcore gamers with very little time to play (family, children, work…) Twenty five years ago I could put in literally 1000s of hours into a single game. At this point I’m happy if I can get an hour a day for playing. [yes, I have far more time for thinking and writing about PP than for playing it].

And of course it completely changes the way one plays and perceives the game. As an old school gamer I don’t want a polished, but shallow experience. However, I also can’t handle large scale micromanagement anymore. To play a grand strategy game, for instance, I would probably have to outsource it to someone. Perhaps a team of people.

Similarly, I don’t think I can play something like Ja2 again until the kids go to college and I retire, because taking over a city would take me in real time as long as the sieges took in the days of the Duke of Marlborough.

The thing about PP is that it’s old school in many ways, but it also has some consideration for the old school gamers who have grown old.


Which is where my final paragraph comes into play :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m not saying this game is perfect by any means, and if you follow any of my threads, you will see that I am (what I hope is) a constructive critic of many of the aspects I don’t think are working properly at the moment.

I have also lost count of the amount of times I have said: ‘But to do do X, first you have to fix the balance of Y.’ or 'Easy should be just that: EASY."

Personally, I think this game did itself a disservice by implementing a massive difficulty spike at the point where Sirens and Chirons are introduced. It put off the casual gamers and pushed a lot of others into exploiting cheesy combos to cope with it.

But you don’t need the cheese - you really don’t. Myself and Voland and Lorifel (and lately I think Pantolomin) can attest to this. Yes, at times you hit a Mission that demands a Restart because it’s so damn difficult it sucks - I’m right in the middle of one now: 2 TPWs and 1 loss of a favourite character so far, and I’ve yet to figure out how to beat it, but I will. Interestingly, I would usually just bug out, take the losses and move on, but for reasons that are too complex to go into, I don’t want to walk away from this one. But that’s Old School for you :persevere:

To be clear, when I say ‘you don’t need the cheese’, I’m talking about obviously broken combos like RB with Sniper Rifles or 100% Infiltrators - I have no objection to using Dash to Get out of Jail Free, or a judicious use of Rally to buy my guy that single extra AP he needs that will be the difference between disaster and survival. I’d just like to see Rally limited to max 1 per turn for the whole Squad, is all.

So it’s clearly not a well-balanced game at the moment, but we’re working on that :smirk:

I believe there’s different aspects, I’ll summarize into, optimization/experimentation, repetitiveness/analysis, simplicity/complexity. For each there are all variation of middle grounds, but that’s the borders.

Optimization leads to focus on:

  • One way to play, the best.
  • It makes a lot harder to resist exploit hole.
  • It push focus more on builds.
  • It pushes to focus on a limited set of tactics, the best.
  • They are more dependent to a strict difficulty management.

Experimentation leads to:

  • Constantly change the way to play the game, even if at price of screwing it up and perform less well sometimes.
  • OP holes are tried once then forgot for some experimentation, if it’s not looking like a wall.
  • Builds are tests to try in combats, the analysis is less on optimization than variations.
  • It pushes to try constantly change tactics used even if it can lead to some just weak.
  • They intend more manage the difficulty by themselves.

Repetitiveness/analysis is less opposites than two faces of the same coin. There’ a task with a certain complexity, the complexity tends increase analysis and repetitive actions. The less action there are the less there’s matter of analysis, the more actions there are the more there’s a chance ti becomes repetitive for a part. On this base there’s a balance to choose:

  • How much repetitiveness is accepted to ensure enough analysis.
  • How few analysis is accepted to ensure less repetitiveness.

Simplicity/complexity are clear opposite but it’s not just idiots versus genius opposition, it’s a lot of factor:

  • When start and stop the fun, at what level of simplicity or complexity.
  • How much time it is possible to spend in the game.
  • How much time before the fun disappear and new stuff is becoming urgent.
  • And for sure how much complexity is manageable, nope humans aren’t clones with same abilities.

Then how age, time, context changes the perspective of those factors. But also how differences between peoples change those perspectives.

There’s no old school players:

  • Only players that endured repetitiveness, bad interface skyrocketing micro management burden, and more, to get better complexity. Not anymore because since they played game having a better ratio repetitiveness/complexity. The context has changed.
  • Players had much more specific characteristics because demographic of players with computers was much more limited than nowadays. The result is they can be less visible. There’s still players like there was, but they are more in minority. The players demographic has changed, and few dev will do games for a too limited target.
  • And for sure people change with age but it’s just an element among others.
  • Ans people aren’t the same but wasn’t the same either 30 years ago. Some prefer experimenting, some prefer optimizing, some expect a level of complexity to have fun and some other another level, some are more ready to repetitiveness than other. Beside demographic changes of people playing with computers, people wasn’t that much different 30 years ago.

So is a burden non fluid gameplay like JA2 can be done nowadays, I doubt it because not only demographic has changed, but also the context and then the expectations have changed. So some players are ready of the burden for the extra depth, but hardly in numbers enough to sustain an A game budget and PP is probably more an AA game budget.

Mmm Heavy is by itself a cheese then, or are you saying the dev never though a player will use sniper armors with assault despite they allowed it?

I don’t buy it. Same for 100% Infiltrator, common classic base sum is 75 and then 100 with a special skill, hardly an hazard here.

I think it’s more complex than just the availability of such combo.

Have you ever played Final Fantasy Tactics? Or the more recent fell seal arbiter’s mark? They are a proof that that show all the limits you require are no way a necessity, plenty limitations in combo, no skills or very limited, more.

There’s perhaps tuning to do, but hardly remove all the possibilities.

You know what? I don’t think they did - or rather it’s an unforseen circumstance of the Skills Sandbox JG clearly favours.

People played BB5 for nigh on 2 months. I never had the time to get a Squaddie to Lvl 7, but plenty of others did. I was commenting daily on how OP Dash & Return Fire and a couple of the other Skills were, and as a result they got nerfed in time for 1.0.

No-one mentioned Sniper/Heavy Rage Burst. That didn’t appear until about 2 weeks into 1.0, and when it did, nobody believed it until the guy who found it posted a demo tape. Then everyone was using it. So it’s clearly not as obvious as people make out in retrospect. It was bound to be uncovered
eventually, and my opinions on that are fairly comprehensively laid out in A Call for Cooldowns. Same for 100% Infiltrator.

The thing is, there is nothing inherently wrong in any of these combos (except a Sniper Rifle should never be able to act like a machine-gun in my opinion), it’s just that as they stand there is no downside to them. What XCOM always got very right in my opinion is the way each of its OP skills had some sort of balancing element, whether it be a cooldown period or a reduction in accuracy, or some such.

What’s wrong with PP Skills to me at the moment, is there is no balancing element. So a Sniper/Heavy can empty her magazine with pinpoint accuracy across the entire length of the map, and the only thing she loses is a clip of ammo. Why wouldn’t you do that if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the difficulty spike? But tie that to a Gatling Gun with a stupidly wide targeting reticle, in the hands of a Squaddie with the speed of a sloth, and suddenly it’s only useful if you can lure the target into fairly close range - like charging distance for a Scylla. I have no problem with that - it’s a massively OP skill, with a limited area of usage (and see So… Rage Burst can no longer cover multiple targets for a set of very sensible suggestions from other people about how to limit it further.)

So no, I have nothing against Squaddie Skills per se. My beef is with unbalanced Squaddie Skills that clearly break the game, and I shall continue to point those out and make suggestions about how to balance them whenever and wherever I find them.

Let’s play right at release, three days after suggestions to use sniper armors with heavy, that’s it OP hole, 3 days after and even sooner as it’s a suggestion not from player.

Sniper Rfile is a sort of OP hole by itself, full cover are ignored thanks to precision, armor is not that a problem and armor break can be ignored, a skill allow even make a full hole in armor. Pick Berzerk and you have 4 shots for a decent will price.

The problem is an Heavy with Sniper Armors is very powerful too, so why bother sniper, ok a possibility but that’s it.

The problem you evoke is no way linked to such mixed skills, but the game didn’t focus enough on balancing lower range and shorter range.

No it’s not about removing, it’s about tuning, you clearly never played a game as Final Fantasy. :slight_smile:

Here’s I think my final take on this topic.

Imagine this was Dungeons and Dragons instead of PP. You’ve tracked the Big Bad to their hideout, now ask yourself if the current lair and citadel setups/layouts would make for an interesting boss level/dungeon. I can’t imagine the answer is really, yes.

Partition up the map and suddenly the Spawnery can be anywhere instead of the left rear or right rear of the map. The Scylla chamber can be in one of several locations you just need to decide, left, right, or straight ahead at that next intersection and hope it’s not a dead end, or worse a Siren nest. Skills like Dash and Rage Burst can no longer end a mission by beelining for a corner or shooting the full length of the map from the entrance.

Add in Andraug’s ideas and now you’re cooking. Now you have a location worthy of the title Citadel.

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That’s exactly what I’m saying, and what I’ve always said. I don’t want to remove RB, I want to balance it.

The Skills and the WP system are one of the most interesting aspects of PP, they’re just so all over the place at the moment that they seriously unbalance the game. So let’s come to a consensus about how they should be balanced and turn this game from a one-shot Sniper snoozefest into something that is truly interesting.

I absolutely agree with everything you say here.

Snapshot simply needs to find a way of making Lairs & Citadels both interesting and a natural progression one from the other, so that players aren’t put off by the grind and tempted to just ignore the Lair entirely.

Why Rage Burst with sniper wasn’t found during BB5 ?
I guess it is because it worked differently by setting a start and end point and it would sweep between both.
So eventhough you could set start and end at the same spot, the idea of a sweep prevented thinking about it. Human brain easily sets boundaries even when there aren’t.

And “dash - quick aim - rapid clearance” was a killer.

We globally agree, but still some nerf you suggest aren’t necessary I believe, like not for Sniper. I have the feeling that for Rage Burst a Team nerf would work well, it would disable mix in same turn a quick kill and a quick capture, but would still let open many solutions without abuse excess. The real fix for such skill would be ammo management and economy, but the game is far from that.

In fact same for more cases, it’s team cumulation that tend create the problems. Stealth would require another method, if any are possible.

EDIT: Another point is those global skill points, let a player put most of them in few soldiers and there’s an abuse. But the freedom is nice, put a limit per soldier would be hard to tune and limit a lot builds variations.

A berzerk allow 4 attacks, soldier Bererk/Assault with a Heavy skill, no Rage Burst but nice flexibilitiy. Quick Aim is more for sniper to increase precision too.

I made that point in A Call for Cooldowns

Part of the problem, I believe, is that multiple Squaddies can stack skills like Rally, which create a not-quite-infinite loop - or at least keep 1 Soldier running long enough to find the Maguffin and end the Mission in 1 or 2 turns. So I’m starting to believe that there should be a quite severe limit on the number of times a Skill can be used in a particular turn - or on a particular individual.

Most of these Skills are fine on their own, it’s when they stack that they become OP.

Can’t see how a team nerf would work on RB at all, though, since it’s an individual skill.

Only 2 RB per turn for whole team, and if not enough, only one but that looks extreme.

Frankly, 1 RB/turn with a Sniper Rifle is too much. That ends a Citadel mission on Turn 1.

Mmm not for me, what Rifle? With extra damages skill?

Synedrion Sniper Rifle coupled with Marked For Death: 15x120+50% = 2,700. If that’s not enough, throw in an Armour Break from your Berserker - or just get your second Sniper to finish the job.

Or you can simply wait for Turn 2 and do it again. Either way, the mission’s over without you even having to move from your start spot. That’s broken from my pov.

This is a problem with the mission. For example, two explosive Chirons, Turns 2 can be too late. But one shot and an Armor Break ok it needs a tuning, never noticed. :slight_smile:

I don’t think missions need be 20 or even 10 turns to be fun, but ok Citadels have failed achieve well short missions.

I’ve never done it myself, because I refuse to use Sniper RB.

Citadels can be quite fun with a couple of Snipers on the backline, a Heavy and a Berserker in a fast-approach vehicle, and a/n other (usually a Techie for vehicle support or an Infiltrator for distraction drones). The trick is to take out the Scylla’s head &/or mandibles with the Snipers, then run the Heavy & Berserker up close to her, pop them out the back and 1 Armour Break + Gatling RB later she’s down. I use it as a form of sport to give my Peeps some R&R after a particularly gruelling mission.

Thing is, as I stated at the top of this thread, it’s not really a challenge, and Lairs are much more difficult. So the solutions suggested by Andraug and Vipre are worth considering, as they would actually make things much more interesting.