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Offline Helbrecht

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The New Year The New League the New Drama
« on: January 02, 2016, 06:03:01 PM »
so now were in 2016, i was under the impression that the current interation of NBT woiuld be set aside and a new version will be put forth late january early febuary. if this is still the case it also might be time to start with rule changes. what worked and what didnt.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 03:35:41 PM by Xavier »

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2016, 02:19:36 AM »
Yes, we kinda covered the rules changes in the last league meeting, but I owe everyone a more solid version of the new, simpler battle design; I will get that out this weekend.

The goal is still to start with new auto, but it may be limited in features at the outset (it's been longer than expected getting the back end deploying and working how we want, so I have not yet started working on the front end yet). The emphasis will be on the starmap as the primary means of interaction with faction admin, as well as battle management therein. Additional features can be rolled out subsequently (we can also do a small PLT -- pre-league tourney for those new to NBT -- to iron out any issues with the new auto).

Will post here later today about the changes I have in mind.

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2016, 03:34:28 PM »
WARNING: TL;DR

OK so what are the major changes I want to try?

Starmap

First, I want to try to speed up the pace of the league a bit, in terms of how fast the map can change. To this end, I want to try out a "sector"-based system, rather than one focused on individual planets. Faction space would be divided into sectors of planets, with each sector containing between 7-13 planets (numbers are flexible, and the range would be consistent with faction's planet count). Each sector would have a "sector capital" that is different than the faction's capital planet (except where the sector contains the faction capital planet, which would obviously also serve as the sector capital).

The primary reason for this change is discussed next.

Sector Raids

The most significant change to day-to-day faction admin operations, is a simplified battle system. Rather than have many different single-drop raid/battle types, whose effects often overlap with those available to multi-drop raids, I want to reduce the entire range of minor raids to a single "sector raid" type. This new type of raid will always be a multi-drop affair, and similar to the lore of GRaids, will simulate multiple simultaneous attacks on different planets in a sector at once (the reason this is important is described later).

The number of drops in these raids will likely be 3, 5, or 7; the number offered when launching an attack will depend on the size/type of the defender (specifics not yet determined, but we are likely to have "major" and "minor" faction types to help with this). In general, the point is to be able to have a night's worth of drops that makes it worth scheduling for both sides, without overwhelming units that prefer/need less activity. This plays into altered defend limits, which are outlined below.

Each drop in a sector raid is played for "points" or "credits", which can be spent by the attacker on various effects. Therefore, all drops in a sector raid must be played; it is NOT a best-of scenario. Even if an attacker wins 1 of 7 drops, they will be able to earn credits to spend on some form of effect. Credits earned per drop are scaled in terms of outcome; an 8-0 win earns the attacker more credits than an 8-7 win (similar to what we have now).

The effects are similar to those we now have in single-drop and GRaids, such as mech/industry theft, industry/factory damage/disruption, PI, SDS/CS disruption, etc. The departure from, say, the GRaid effect, is that multiple effects can be imposed from a single sector raid. Lets say that a win earns the attacker 300 credits. They may spend 100 of them on mech theft, 100 on PI (more on PI later), and 100 on industry theft. Or they may choose to spend 200 on sector recon data and the remainder on SDS disablement. And so on.

Additionally, rather than limit the number of attacks on a sector in terms of pure opportunities (for example, a successful GRaid on a planet today eliminates the GRaid from battle types for that planet for 30 days), we would limit sector raids by total credits earned, from the defender's perspective. Say, if Faction A attacks a sector and earns 500 credits, and we have the limit set to 1000, then any other faction (including Faction A) can earn the remaining 500 credits in as many opportunities as it takes (we will probably sum up the total credits over the previous 30-day period). The exception to this is if someone launches a Sector Assault (described next).

The reason it is important that the lore behind sector raids involves multiple, simultaneous, coordinated attacks on different planets in the sector, is that Sector Raids cannot repair mechs that can be used on subsequent drops in the raid (as they are all technically happening at the same time).

Sector Assault

Currently, Planetary Assaults are for control of a single planet. As part of the changes described thus far, I would like to change this to an assault for control of a sector. This should help change the pace of the league (specifically, the pace of change on the starmap), as well as help with a couple of other changes I would like to make to the scale of the league economy (described later).

The mechanics of the Planetary Assault currently are such that there is an LZ phase (and possible FR phase), followed by the "PA" phase, followed by either FR or Siege Assault. And of course, one side could lose by attrition and have to retreat.

The changes I would like to make are based partly on my experience with Community Warfare. The part I like most about CW attacks is the "capture and hold" mechcanic. The part I like even better is the fact that multiple teams can be fighting drops on the attack at the same time, in real time, and that the outcomes of those drops can affect what other teams on the attack have to do.

So for NBT Sector Assaults (abbreviated SA) I would like to make the following changes:

  • Eliminate LZ and FR phase; LZ (establishing a foothold/BaseOps) should already be covered by a preparatory Sector Raid (SR)
  • Straight into PA phase, which works similarly to CW, where "slots" must be captured and then subsequently held.
  • Retain Siege Assault phase as the "final attack" on the sector capital, which must be won to capture the sector
  • Mechs may be repaired and used on subsequent drops

The first item should be self-explanatory; if an attacking team is "doing it right" then we should not need to emulate a foothold phase (but I am open to debate on this point).

The mechanics of the second item warrant deeper discussion. First, the number of "slots" in the PA phase will be determined by the number of planets in the sector, and this number will always be odd. This allows for a "best-of" system, similar to how CW works now (attacker needs to hold 51% or better of the 13 CW attack slots to win the planet at cease-fire). In NBT SA, in order to move onto the "Capital Assault" phase, attackers must hold more than half of the planets in the sector. Of course, "planets" are modeled by "slots" in the NBT SA tracker, but the lore is that the attacker is moving from planet to planet to reach the sector capital (all "slot" battles are not necessarily simultaneous). This is also what allows the last bullet to make sense: winners of a drop can repair mechs from that drop to be used immediately on subsequent drops. The additional economic subtext for this ability is discussed later.

Since CW has an "attack phase" that is limited in actual real time, and we do not have that ability, then the instant that an attacker has (a) captured and then (b) holds, a slot in the battle, the SA moves onto the Capital Assault phase. This phase should probably be a best-of, either 3 or 5 drops, similar to how it is now, and will all be on the same map (chosen by defender from the list of maps particular to the capital planet's terrain type).

The mechanics of how the capture-and-hold system work are important to understand. Think of it (if you are familiar at all with American NFL football rules) of how overtime is decided in NFL games. One team gets a chance to score and the other team is guaranteed a chance to respond. With NBT SA's, in the sector-assault phase, after a planet (slot) is captured by an attacker, the defender has an opportunity to counter-attack that planet (slot). The benefit of this mechanic in NBT is what I like most about CW's capture/hold system -- each side gets an opportunity both to attack AND defend in the assault (rather than one side always attacking, the other always defending). In the case where an attacker has captured a majority of slots/planets in the sector, the defender has the opportunity to counter-attack each slot held by the attacker, at least once (note that a defender may choose to keep counter-attacking the same slot if they like; it's up to them).

The other piece I want to take from CW is the ability for multiple teams to work on an assault at the same time, in real time. I'll describe the allied attack/defend system in detail later, but in short, I want to allow more than one team to ally for an assault attack or defend. In this way, sector assaults can provide an opportunity for allies or mercs to participate in an assault in a meaningful way, without the primary faction having to transfer back and forth. So, for example, Faction A may lead the attack in the sector-assault phase, and leave the "holds" to allies or mercs. Or perhaps everyone can do attacks, and holds are chosen among the allies. The point is to allow multiple teams to play in the assault at the same time, which, if nothing else, makes scheduling easier, and also should speed up the pace of assaults considerably. We could even go one step further and borrow the "queueing" system from CW as well, and simply match up queued attackers and defenders to fight "whatever is next".

In terms of what mechs can be used on a given drop, anything in the sector (whether allied or owned) can be used on your drop. This will require that teams log drops both immediately before and immediately after the drop, so that other teams playing in the assault know what mechs they can use (your "mechs taken" that you log before a drop are not shown to the opponent; it merely affects what your allies see in terms of mechs available to them). I would suggest comms coordination on this as well, of course.

Defend Limits

We will have a flat model for defense limits. Since the size of sector raids is set by the type/size of faction, and assaults are what they are, we are likely to move to a system where a unit will have N defends available (N determined by faction size/type), and sector raids and sector assaults count equally (in other words, N cam be all raids, all assaults, or whatever mix). A faction can increase their defends by going on the offensive; for each attack over their current defend limit, the defend limit is increased to match. For this reason, I am thinking that N should be 2 or 3 (possibly even 1 for small, non-pirate factions), to prevent teams from constantly being only on defense in terms of practical scheduling and activity-level limitations. We can play with this number based on how well the SA system of allied operations works in practice (ideally, it should be possible for the primary defender, for example, not even need to be present on a given night for an SA to move forward -- this should help scheduling if it's done with a larger pool of teams).

League Economics

There is too much money and too many mechs in the league. I want to scale everything down to the point that "scarcity" becomes a real thing again, even for "major" factions. Part of the reason that I want to allow repairs in SA drops is to allow PAs to be fought reasonably well, with a reasonable number of starting mechs. The actual numbers involved will need to be trial-and-error'ed, but expect to see a fraction of the mechs that you see now in the league. I mean, honestly, how many of those mechs in interior planets ever see battle? They just incur costs. As a result, less money should be needed, and we should also introduce the concept of "risk/reward" in garrison/attack strategy. You want to go on the offensive? You can, but you will either need to leave part of your space undefended, or will have to hire someone or ally with someone to help defend it for you.

In terms of mech expense, we will also probably introduce "market pricing" to factory purchases. FS9-A are going like hotcakes because of the latest PGI "balance" patch? They will be more expensive, on a dynamic basis. Similarly, when the ACH becomes less desirable because of the same patch, they will become less expensive. This should help enforce variety a bit more than we've seen, as teams should not be be able to afford taking strictly meta everywhere they go (regardless of the faction size). Granted, teams can stock up on "cheap" chassis if they want to gamble on its utility in the future, but honestly, who saw the JN7-O rising to the rank of "Tier 1/2 meta"? So that's a risk/reward situation as well.

The point is to make the economic facet of the league meaningful as well, rather than what it is now, which is simply a necessary evil to boating the meta.

Alliances and Diplomacy

Diplomacy will work much as it does now, with the exception that everyone starts Neutral and ALL upgrades must be justified with RP (MA will not be free for the asking as it is now). Downgrades will still be free and take effect immediately. War still needs a series of RP leading up to it, as well as getting out of it (same as now).

Allied garrisoning and allied attacks will work differently. Contrary to current mechanics, any number of allies can garrison a planet. We will require at least 10 allied mechs in order to participate in a defend or attack. In a departure from current mechanics, in a Sector Assault, once a team's mechs have all been lost (and not repaired by an allied team), that team can no longer participate in the assault attack or defend. This will be possible as all mech instances in the league will be tracked individually (rather than in aggregate, as they are now). So it will be important to coordinate with allies on a SA attack or defend, as to exactly which/whose mechs to choose for a given drop (anyone can take any mech in the assault, regardless of ownership).

We will likely eliminate House Mercs. This feature is likely to be rolled into the Faction/Command system described next.

Factions and Commands

Rather than the district/march system we had in the current league, we will be implementing a system of factions and commands.

A Faction is the overall House, for instance -- lets take House Marik as an example, There is a single top-level faction, "House Marik", that is responsible for all diplomacy (including merc contracts) with other factions. At league start, this faction will be controlled by a single top-level "command" (preferably one from canon). The planets, mechs, jumpships and so on, will be owned and controlled by the command. So far, not that different from what we have now with marches/districts (except for the diplomacy angle).

Economy, however, remains controlled at the faction level. Factory purchases, industry upgrades, and so on, will be the responsibility of the controlling command, and done at the faction level.

And, if Team B comes along later and just has to be Marik for whatever reason, and Team A (currently controlling the overall Marik command) agrees, then Team A would create a "sub-command" and grant Team B one or more sectors of Marik space to control, and also give them control of any mechs on those planets as well as a set of jumpships to use. The top-level command (the faction, really) still is responsible for maintenance of those assets.

The idea is to revive the "mentor" unit concept, and allow new teams not only to play their favored faction, but also to avoid getting n00b-stomped in NBT, while they can learn the automation and get a sense for the league in a "safe", low-risk setting. And if Team B (and the league) decides they are ready for a larger command or a faction of their own, then returning control of the planets and assets to Team A is painless and simple (something that it definitely is NOT presently).

This is also a way for traditional "house mercs" to be integrated with a sponsor faction. Since house mercs typically do not take external contracts, a faction simply would grant one or more sectors to the merc team, effectively creating a merc sub-command for them.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 03:43:05 PM by Xavier »

Offline VVonka

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2016, 04:56:33 PM »
This all sounds awesome, great work putting it all together!

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2016, 11:29:05 PM »
I realize I never did talk about PI changes...

It's too easy at present to put a planet into PI (preventing reinforcements, suppressing industry payments, etc) with the current GRaid system. Based on comments from teams participating in the "alpha", I want either to make PI more rare, or make it less punitive. We could also use a graduated effect scale -- more PI effects cost more credits, with the "full PI" effect taking the whole max credits a team can score in a sector raid. We'll probably end up adjusting this as the next NBT goes along.

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2016, 11:35:44 PM »
This all sounds awesome, great work putting it all together!

Thanks :)

It's not in code yet, but even though it sounds complicated, it should actually be simpler to code this up than to duplicate the existing rules. And even though it sounds more complicated to play, it's not -- it's actually much simpler.

My hope is to have the basic battle launch/management system (including sector raid and assault support), planet sector administration, jumpship/mech management functionality, plus automation signups/logins, faction applications, dynamic (HTML5/WebGL-based) starmap and basic admin functions up and running by the end of January.

This should be sufficient to start a "pre-league tourney" sort of thing for those who are interested in helping hash out any new-code issues; such a PLT would probably go a couple of weeks, which should give us time to bring up additional economy and diplomacy features, which would then allow us to start a league sometime in Feb.

This is a pretty aggressive schedule and the likelihood of slippage is high, but the alternative (going with the existing code and rules) is a non-starter at this point.

Offline Quicksilver

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2016, 09:21:41 AM »
I'd be VERY careful with making mechs more scarce, this only makes it easier to club seals for good teams because scarcity tends to have a snowball impact, regardless of whether you can repair in-between drops. This is what helped new units in HC and Mercs vs the MP3 league.

Offline VVonka

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2016, 10:41:40 AM »
I'd be VERY careful with making mechs more scarce, this only makes it easier to club seals for good teams because scarcity tends to have a snowball impact, regardless of whether you can repair in-between drops. This is what helped new units in HC and Mercs vs the MP3 league.



It would also make it very very difficult to have a War on 2 fronts.  There is always a strong force but politics and alliances can topple anyone.

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2016, 11:06:58 AM »
I'd be VERY careful with making mechs more scarce, this only makes it easier to club seals for good teams because scarcity tends to have a snowball impact, regardless of whether you can repair in-between drops. This is what helped new units in HC and Mercs vs the MP3 league.

Clubbing seals will incur diminishing returns. I don't have a specific design yet, but given that there was strong resistance to the idea of having an "upper NBT" and "lower NBT" (two parallel leagues, in other words), and that teams of all skill/activity levels will be participating in the same league, admin will be taking a much more active role in preventing, say, Clan Frozen Gerbil from initially taking a faction next door, to, say, SJR (who did an admirable job, BTW, of refraining from clubbing baby seals in this past NBT :) even when it meant not playing at all).

Tundra Wolf is working on an honor system for the clans and a merit system for the Inner Sphere, and I would like to see if we can add an additional system that takes "strength of opponent" into consideration when doling out rewards. For example, if Tier-1 Team A launches a raid on Tier-4 Team B, perhaps Team A's points/credits for the raid are reduced, scaled on the difference in strength of the two teams.

In the beginning, however, admin will do what it can to segregate the teams with lower skill levels or lesser stated activity level, from those with higher skill levels and/or higher activity levels. It is for this reason that I want to fill the 6 major IS factions (Steiner, Davion, FRR, Liao, Marik, Kurita) first, with strong, highly-active teams (same for the major invasion clans if we decide to start with an invasion corridor), and then "fill in around the edges" with teams that are not yet ready for the Tier-1 meat grinder, or simply want less activity.

The defend limits will play into this as well; if a smaller/less-active team takes a faction with 1 defend slot, they will hardly be run out of the league like they can now with the 9-minor/2-PA defend limits.

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2016, 11:07:38 AM »
BTW it looks like this topic is seeing a lot of activity in Reddit as well (thanks Deadfire for copy-pasting there :P )

https://www.reddit.com/r/OutreachHPG/comments/3zivvs/major_nbt_changes_inbound/

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 11:20:25 AM »
I'd be VERY careful with making mechs more scarce, this only makes it easier to club seals for good teams because scarcity tends to have a snowball impact, regardless of whether you can repair in-between drops. This is what helped new units in HC and Mercs vs the MP3 league.



It would also make it very very difficult to have a War on 2 fronts.  There is always a strong force but politics and alliances can topple anyone.


Probably not as difficult as you think. As you say, with careful alliance management you can wage war on multiple fronts via shared resources.

In terms of the number of mechs needed, lets consider a typical sector assault. There is no LZ anymore, so we start directly into it. Assuming a 13-planet sector, you need to capture and hold 7 of those planets, which means 14 drops minimum. This means 14*8 = 102 mechs, plus possibly 40 more for the capital assault phase.

I don't intend to implement the "recommended garrison" mechanic this time, as that was (I think) a reaction to the sheer quantity of mechs in any given NBT, so we will be trying the "bring whatever you like" approach again, which should be self-policing if it means you have to leave parts of your space undefended. (Note: there is also an espionage addition I forgot to mention, namely that factions can leave "spies" in enemy space that can report on troop movements, so it's possible that someone knows you just moved all of your defenses out of a particular sector). In order to prevent teams from simply bringing 1000 mechs (if that's even possible), we will probably tie into Tundra Wolf's honor/merit system and possibly scale successes based on over- or under-whelming force availability (so it would still be necessary to gain some idea of the size of defending forces in advance of an assault -- prep work, in other words).

The overall goal I have in mind, is to make a lot of things that are currently codified into rules restrictions, instead be self-policing, and governed by self-interest.

Offline VVonka

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2016, 03:19:56 PM »
I just meant if enough baby seals got together they could wear down a higher tier opponent.  Especially if that opponent made a habit out of clubbing baby seals.


I think it will be difficult to arrive at any skill value for a team as it may be a direct result of who it has fought thus far.  I would expect this may not normalize.  Maybe a Marik Civil War style trial of position?  Teams are awarded a modifier based on how they perform which directly impacts the cost of items in the new point system.  Teams would need to try because faction choices would be awarded based of the position finished.

Offline Xavier

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2016, 03:53:19 PM »
I just meant if enough baby seals got together they could wear down a higher tier opponent.  Especially if that opponent made a habit out of clubbing baby seals.


I think it will be difficult to arrive at any skill value for a team as it may be a direct result of who it has fought thus far.

Strength of schedule, in other words. This is basically what I had in mind. At the start, a skill level (Tier?) "value" will be assigned by an admin interview process and looking into their comp record (if any) in MRBC, etc.

Quote
  I would expect this may not normalize.  Maybe a Marik Civil War style trial of position?  Teams are awarded a modifier based on how they perform which directly impacts the cost of items in the new point system.  Teams would need to try because faction choices would be awarded based of the position finished.

This is one of the reasons to have a PLT, not just to hash out automation bugs and playtest new ideas, but also to identify these sorts of values.

Offline Quicksilver

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2016, 05:06:29 PM »
I just meant if enough baby seals got together they could wear down a higher tier opponent.  Especially if that opponent made a habit out of clubbing baby seals.
You would be surprised at what had been possible at least in prior leagues. Winning big meant even bigger salvage, once a team had a planet even if it wasn't able to be resupplied, a good team could keep it indefinitely solely relying on salvage for reinforcements. Like I said, there is a snowball effect especially when you take into account psychological effects (most baby seals don't fight back past a point :P). Not saying I'm necessarily against it, but it hasn't been kind or good for the pace of the league (less mechs tends to mean less activity).

I do worry about how the command and lesser units idea will pan out...am I to assume that the admins will try to guide units so that each major faction has an equal/appropriate amount of teams so that you don't end up with people trying to cling to good units and avoiding maybe a weaker one (ex 10 units under FedCom and only 1 for the Dracs)?
« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 05:08:11 PM by Quicksilver »

Offline Derv

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Re: The New Year The New League the New Drama
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2016, 06:19:00 PM »
Like I said, there is a snowball effect especially when you take into account psychological effects (most baby seals don't fight back past a point :P). Not saying I'm necessarily against it, but it hasn't been kind or good for the pace of the league (less mechs tends to mean less activity).

I think this has been shown to be more than true in every NBT league. People simply roll over rather than have to fight people they think they can't ever beat.
GRANDIOSE DELUSIONS