World of Warships

The problems with AA balance

WorldOfWarships2 - The problems with AA balance

The CV rework is still the main talking point in a lot of posts and rightfully so. There are still major issues to be addressed. One of them is AA balance, especially between different tiers.

To illustate and provide a bit of backgroud about the points I will raise later, let's look at a real ingame example. With the way the matchmaker currently works, ships are able to see other ships of potentially up to five different tiers. So a CV at T8 is capable of meeting T6-T10 ships in any given battle. Obviously not at once, but for balance sake, all possible matchups have to be looked at. A regular T6 ship is Fuso for example. She has 37 25mm guns (in single and dual mounts) for 279 short range dps and 8 127mm guns for 65 long range dps. On the other side of the spectrum we have Yamato at T10. She shares the same caliber and ranges for her AA guns (thats why I chose IJN BBs as my example). Her 144 25mm guns (all triple mounts) give her 810 dps at short range and the 24 127mm guns have 206 dps. The planes of a T8 carrier have around 1500 HP each. It is very obvious that the differences in AA these planes can possibly meet are very high. Yamato has three times the dps values of Fuso but also nearly four times as much 25mm guns.

So to improve plane vs. AA balance at different tiers, people very often suggest flattening out the AA increase between the tiers. But thats where I have a major issue. The ships in the game are modeled after their real life configuration and the pure amount of AA guns is therefore fixed and cant be magically changed by WG. The dps per gun already decreases with tiers (for the smaler guns at least). Fuso gets 7.5 dps per 25mm gun while Yamato only gets 5.6. If we were to further flatten the AA differences we could easily get to a point were AA guns would feel purely cosmetic as it would be laughable to think about Yamatos 144 guns only having (let's say) double the dps of Fusos 37. Sure, gameplay comes first and realism second, but I feel we are already stretching realism as much as possible (we should not forget that in reality triple mounts were more effective than single or dual mounts, not the other way around). Giving less AA guns more (relative) power would also have further implications. It would not only flatten the AA between tiers, but also between classes. Suddenly AA focused cruisers would feel way less powerful against CVs while at the same time DDs would gain a lot of damage. Maybe that is desirable and maybe a lot of people in the community would gladly accept these changes in favour of more AA balance at the cost of a big part of logical progression behind AA. I personally would like to see a different approach.

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Another parameter that balances AA is accuracy. WG introduced an artificial hit probability to AA that increases with tiers, even on the same gun and ship class. Standardizing these to be the same regardless of tier would be a better way to flatten AA IMO as these values feel very unintuitive in the first place. Fusos short range AA currently has a hit probability of 63%, so her actual dps is 176 dps. Yamato has a hit probability of 70%, so her actual dps is 567 dps. Giving Fuso the same 70% hit probability would buff her actual dps to 195, an increase of over 10%. Does not sound much but would at least be a help at no real cost. T6 plane HP would be adjusted to only affect the Fuso vs T8 CV matchup. Similar changes could be made to ships at every tier and would not have any impact on AA strength between classes.


What also still irks me about AA is that damage to planes still does not matter as much as it should. In the old system, planes were binary, they existed or they were shot down. Flying through AA without losing a plane did essentially nothing as the whole system was entirely RNG based. The new system is already a very big improvement as already damaged planes are shot down eventually and even bad AA can contribute to plane losses. The only problem I still have is when planes return to the CV. At that point planes become binary again. They either return (remaining HP does not matter) or they dont (shot down). Returning planes are then instantly ready for another takeoff even when the plane had 10 HP remaining. Making returning planes HP matter by having some form of recovery time based on HP remaining would help here. In return the standard plane recovery speed could be increased. This would strengthen weak AA as every point of damage helps to delay further attacks especially towards the end of a battle. But it would also help uptiered CVs because they lose most of their planes due to the strong AA anyway, so having a slightly faster base recovery time would keep them in the game longer.

No matter what WG does in the end about AA, one problem has become apparent again with the CV rework: matchmaking. T8 CVs in particular but also T6 CVs suffer heavily in T10 (or T8) matches due to the big AA increases. This would not be such a big problem if the number of T10 games would be lower. But as everyone probably knows, being uptiered in T8 ships is very common. This is not just a problem CVs have, but other ships had to suffer for the longest time.

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So changes to the matchmaker to make +2 games rarer would benefit the game as a whole. As it stands now, single or double tier matchmaking is very rare (please correct me if I am wrong, but I cant remember a game where only a single tier of ships was present). Changing the matchmaker to look for single or double tier matchmaking for the fist 30 seconds before expanding to include a third tier would go a long way in reducing the amount of +2 games IMO. I am no expert and changes to the matchmaker are always more complicated than we think but something like this would increase the enjoyment of everyone in general and CVs in particular.

tl;dr: Flattening AA scaling between tiers is not as easy as adjusting a few numbers as it has further implications. Standardizing the artificial hit probability would help in that regard. Also looking at the binary state of planes returning to the CV could help. Probably the biggest help would be an improvement to the matchmaker to make +2 games less likely which would reduce the frustration of all players equally.

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