The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion 2

by Thotimx

Part 16: Shields & Damage Mechanics (Olesh)

Gravitic Fields:

Gyro Destabilizer is a very strange piece of equipment. On paper, each gyro destabilizer does poor damage relative to its size and cost. The spinning of enemy ships rarely has much use, as you can't control which direction the enemy ships end up pointing and you've got roughly 75% odds that the enemy can still turn to bring their forward weapons to bear. However, Gyro Destabilizers ignore shields and armor and do damage directly to enemy structure. It's possible to have a fleet attack strategy that relies exclusively on gyro destabilizers to blow up enemy ships, but it's not the most efficient or effective strategy.
Inertial Stabilizers, by contrast, is very good - halving the cost of turning has obvious applications for hit and run strategies, but the real prize is the +50 Beam Defense (and the undocumented +25 missile defense).

+50 Beam Defense is a substantial amount of defense, equivalent to two levels of computer upgrades. A ship with Augmented Engines and Inertial Stabilizers has a total of +100 Beam Defense over the base defense provided by crew and combat speed - 100 points of BD can be the difference between incoming fire operating with a +50 bonus (a roughly 90% chance to hit) vs a -50 penalty (a roughly 10% chance to hit).

However, the size and cost of these systems is substantial without miniaturization, meaning that only larger ship classes can realistically equip them while still having a weapons loadout. But they're vital to the "large durable ship" strategy, and especially when paired with other racial picks making few, expensive, unkillable ships is a perfectly legitimate way to play.

Magneto Gravitics:
Warp Dissipater is incredibly situational, but if you're playing very aggressively, you might find this useful. Expensive and sizable to mount on ships, but preventing retreats can be useful.
Planetary Radiation Shield is the first planetary shield. Useful defensively - any defensive structures on a planet has incoming damage from all sources reduced by 5 points, including missiles and bombs. Defensive structures (such as a Fighter Garrison) also come equipped with your best shields, so if you possess (for example) Class III shields, your Missile Bases and Fighter Garrisons under a planetary radiation shield would have incoming damage reduced by 8 points, rendering nuclear missiles and most early beam weapons entirely ineffective and providing good durability against nuclear bombs.
Class III Shield is the first shield that provides reasonable levels of protection. All incoming damage is reduced by 3 points before being applied to shields, armor, or structure, and provides an additional regenerating pool of hit points (15 * ship size class).

Both Class III shields and Planetary Radiation Shield are great picks, but will depend on your situation - Class III shields provide a substantial level of protection in early game conflicts. However, from an economic standpoint Planetary Radiation Shields can be crucial - while the difference between Barren and Radiated planets is mostly academic in the early game (you can't grow food and they have the same population cap), all maintenance costs are 25% higher on Radiated planets, meaning that a Planetary Radiation Shield will frequently pay for itself for any moderately developed colony and you can't terraform Radiated planets - only Barren and up can be improved. Rarely, if ever, would you want to take Warp Dissipater over either of the other two options.

However, it seems like we need some clarification here:

Thotimx posted:

** Class III Shield - Absorbs 3 points of damage from any attack. We're getting hits of up to the low 40s, so that won't mean much to the high end. It'll mean more to the low-end though, some is better than nothing, protection against the more equal races, etc.

Let's talk about Shields!

Shields, as everyone probably assumes, absorb damage. They range from Class I (the weakest) to Class X (the strongest).

Shields reduce incoming attacks by an amount equal to their class rating, and provide additional shield hit points equal to (5 * class rating * size class). Shields reduce damage from incoming attacks, then the leftover damage is applied to the appropriate shield facing, and any damage left over gets applied to armor (and then structure, if there's no armor left). Shields don't function inside a nebula. Also, some weapons ignore shields entirely, other weapons can be modified with shield piercing to allow them to ignore shields. There is a Ship Special System, Hard Shields, that increases shields' damage reduction by an additional 3 points, allows shields to function inside nebulae, and prevent shield piercing weapons from bypassing shields.

So let's break down an attack here - I've got a frigate with Class III shields. My opponent fires and hits with 10 Laser Cannons. Without shields, I would expect to take somewhere between 10 and 40 damage. Based on the quote from Thotimx above, you might think that with Class III shields, the incoming damage taken is between 7-37 damage which gets applied to the shield facing.

This is incorrect.

While the damage total is displayed as a single number, shields apply their damage reduction to each individual attack. What this means is that a Laser Cannon, which normally deals between 1-4 damage, is mostly ineffective against Class III shields, doing 0-1 damage. Nuclear Missiles only do 5 damage (and not 8), and so forth.

Even Class I shields offer decently modest protection against early beam weapons, especially at range, since beam weapon damage isn't actually random.

Wait, what?

You heard me. The listings for Laser Cannons say 1-4 damage, and Fusion Beams say 2-6, but these numbers are lies, lies, lies. But how come when I shoot, the damage numbers that pop up aren't always identical, you might ask?

Beam Damage is not random

See, beam weapon accuracy is random. In the previous effortpost, I talked about hit chances - if Beam Attack and Beam Defense are equal after taking everything into consideration, each attack only has a 50% chance of connecting. This means that if I shoot with 20 Laser Cannons, on average I'm only going to hit with 10. Sometimes I'll hit with 8, or 9, or 12. I might get lucky and hit with all 20. Regardless, the damage dealt per beam isn't random.

Beam weapons only have one damage number - it's the "top" end of their range. Laser Cannons do 4 damage, Fusion Beams do 6 damage, Neutron Blasters do 12 damage, and so forth. However, the actual damage dealt to an enemy ship is a function of distance. At point blank (from 0-2 "squares" away), beam weapons do their full damage*. As the ranges get further away, the damage dealt by beam weapons falls off to a minimum of 35% the listed value, with the damage numbers being rounded to the nearest integer. Laser cannons at max range will always deal 1 point of damage, Fusion Beams will always deal 2 points of damage, and so forth. All "beam" weapons (with a few notable exceptions including Mass Drivers) use the same calculations for damage falloff. Yes, this means that the "x2 range dissipation" property of Fusion Beams doesn't actually exist. At 15-17 squares away, Laser Cannons do 50% damage (2 points) and Fusion Beams do 50% damage (3 points). Both are completely ineffective against Class III shields at that range.

* Heavy Mount and Point Defense weapons operate under the same general rules - Heavy Mount weapons start with a 1.5x damage multiplier (point blank being from 0-8 squares away), down to a minimum of 0.85x the listed damage at 45-50 squares. At max range for regular beams (21-23 squares), Heavy Mount weapons still have a 1.2x multiplier.
Point Defense weapons start with a 0.4x damage multiplier at 0-2 squares, do 0.2x damage at 3-5 squares, and do 0x damage from 6-8 and -0.125x damage at 9-11 tiles.

Wait, WHAT?

Well, okay, there's a minimum 1 point of damage. But that multiplier is there for a reason: High Energy Focus, is a special system that purports to claims beam damage by 50%. What High Energy Focus actually does is add a flat 0.5 to the damage multiplier after range is factored in. With High Energy Focus, a regular point blank beam does 1.5x damage, while a regular beam at max range does 0.85x damage. Heavy Mount weapons likewise get upgraded to doing 2x damage at point blank, and 1.35x damage at max range. Point defense beam weapons get upgraded to doing 0.9x damage at point blank, and 0.375x damage at max range.

Some Key Takeaways:
The listed damage ranges are worthless; only the higher number has any meaning.
Beam weapon damage depends on exclusively on distance.
If you are having trouble getting through enemy shields, use Heavy Mount weapons and/or get closer before shooting.
Heavy Mount weapons suffer dramatically less in the way of damage drop-off compared to normal weapons. PD weapons are nearly useless except at point blank ranges without High Energy Focus.
The Leader skill Ordinance applies as an additional percentage to the damage multiplier, similar to how High Energy Focus works. An Ordinance skill of 10 adds an additional 0.1 to the damage multiplier at all ranges, while a skill of 15 adds 0.15.