Hello there, guess who
Don't take it as invasion. I merely want to leave my feedback regarding some issues I see important. People who know me or coincidentally read the name of the topic might guess...Yes, it's about Sahara-class balance. Just keep in mind that English is not my native language, so try keep calm when you see something... remember: the DERP-cruiser is for your DERP, I'm not pretending to take its role.
Well, let's start, shall we?
I had a talk with Cole Protocol recently. It's good, that he finally found some time to check on Sahara and discovered an interesting thing: the lasers were blue. Probably, he'll find some time to fix this small issue... After discussion, he advised me to post my balance suggestions here.
So, you're reading it right now.
I can't say that something is totally wrong with Sahara. Actually, it works as intended. Though, I have grounds serious enough to bring them here... Yes, the ship is fully functional, but it's efficiency and price-quality inevitably lead to certain questions: why so expensive? why so hard to control? why I should take it? How enemy player can detect it? When I tried to answer them myself, the only thing I found good enough for answer was: Unfinished Balance. I admit, I had no one to question about Sahara, because all people I play with never use it. Though, I usually sustain a small prowler fleet of 3-5 ships for emergency mine laying, probing enemy worlds and eliminating enemy beacons or patrol stations before the main fleet arrive.
And you know, it's difficult as hell. If you wanna to bring at least 3 Saharas back home, you must totally screw up the rest of the Galaxy (both in-game and reality) and monitor only this very system and these ships, along with enemy fleet movements. And this is in case of one system covert operation. For scouting purposes UNSC players can use only sloops, because Sahara will die quickly somewhere around the corner, once you distracted.
So, as I am the only person (known to me) using this class of ships, I believe I have achieved some mastery and now can make somehow serious statements. For your and mine convenience I've made up a list, which you may see the below:
1. Sahara is too expensive.
I realize that Sahara is a highly advanced stealth craft, built for spying and creating havoc behind enemy lines, but it's cost in both fleet supplies and resources is too high. You see, in SotP we can win only by eliminating enemy fleet. Intelligence, diversions, minefields and all the stuff is something secondary or tetriary.
It merely holds your fleet cap for nothing, so it's harder to win with Saharas, rather than without them. Yes, they bear shivas and spartan teams, but it's not enough to ruin enemy supremacy. Try to count how many nukes you'll need to destroy a drydock, and each nuke is another Sahara to buy. Now imagine that there are 2-3 drydocks. So, would you prefer to gamble your supplies or build a more traditional fleet of naval ships and make a guaranteed kill? I think, you'll choose the second option.
And with Sahara's short amount of antimatter and lack of any insurance you won't spam the enemy with shivas and get the guys back home. It's pure suicide.
To add some popularity to this class, I recommend you to decrease it's cost in fleet supplies to 20-25. She's a small ship. Not combat ship, and we all know that the UNSC must maintain 3:1 fleet ratio to win. Though, increased deuterium and credits prices may somehow compensate it. Then, more people would think about buying "something special" instead of 2-3 additional destroyers.
2. Sahara is too difficult to use.
Yeah, the main issue. With 35 antimatter points, weak hull, thin armor and laser pointers instead of weaponry Sahara's usage is very limited and very difficult. You must keep an eye on your prowlers and recharge their cloaks quite often, if you wish to have enough antimatter in your bag. You can't kill enemy builders or trade ships with anything, but nuke. You can't kill something more valuable by one nuke, because it's weak. You must to bring in a fleet of 3-6 ships if you want to succeed. 3-6 ships is 3-6 subjects to overwatch their antimatter. Tension is high. Cost is high. Result is small.
I suggest to do next:
1) Increase antimatter points from 35 to 50 and add autocast option for Cloak (triggered when enemy is in range). But the cloak should now have 5-7 seconds cooldown and prohibit all other abilities. Additional antimatter points allow the vessel to jump without losing all it's antimatter. Auto-Cloak option will make the ship more autonomous. Cooldown and under-cloak abilities prohibition will make the ship more vulnerable to tracking.
***In case if autocast can not be done, I believe 70 antimatter points should be enough for 10 minutes in-system flight or ~3-5 minutes of slipstream travel.
2) Increase Sahara's weapon damage, so it will be capable of destroying builders, transport ships, colonization and diplomatic vessels in matter of seconds. Though, it's weak hull and thin armor will prevent it from engaging enemy fleet or enemy structures protected by fighters/bombers.
3) Add fighter targeting to Sahara, so it will be capable of taking down 1 bombers squadron before they strike. It won't save the ship from carpet bombing. It won't make Sahara somehow good at fleet AA protection. The only thing this change will result in is slightly increased survivability. Plus, it will work only if those bombers are coming right in front of the ship, so it's nothing but a weapon of chance.
1. Minefield is too small. It holds only 1 tile, so it's kinda difficult to make good use of them even against the AI. Probably 2 tiles spreading area should be better, but it will require more mines per deployment. So, with increased area of deployment and number of mines this ability will inevitably improve overall damage. Of course, it should be available only when ship is uncloaked, to prevent HORNETs bombing runs in secure areas.
2. I sometimes face the problem that Sahara can't place mines in orbit of bare asteroids. Also, in some gravity wells mines limit is too small.
3. HORNETs attack range should be decreased to allow enemy fleets more safe passage, BUT... with increased area of deployment and number of mines in it, the collision should be really dangerous. Then Covie commanders will think twice before blindly rushing forward... Of course, if they wish to lose some cruisers and frigates...
4. I'm not sure about this line, but I think HORNETs should slow down enemy ships for longer time (5-10 seconds)
4. Redundant ship mastery points
Sahara has many unused mastery points... Probably you could divert them to Shiva missile, further increasing it's damage or range after level 3 (slightly). Also, they might be used for new Spartan Boarding Party ability I'm going to propose next.
5. Spartan assault changes
1. If I correct, this ability lack visual effect. Probably due to it's mechnics. Probably due to time constraints. Just a reminder. Link to article about bikes: http://www.halopedia...icular_Activity
2. Ship capture is quite powerful ability, but incapable of changing tide of battle. I think there is another way to make Spartan assault efficient, without taking over enemy ships. So, maybe frigate/cruiser capture should be replaced by boarding action against targeted capital/cruiser/frigate/building hull, reactor and engines?
Spartans deploy in their bikes, fly toward their target like Shiva and on impact cause targeted ship/structure to suffer some direct hull damage, antimatter drain (-40/50/60/70) antimatter) and engines stop (or full disable, which is more logical as boarding party sabotage reactor) for 10 seconds.
If it attacks building, then only hull damage (800/900/1000/1100) will be applied. Damage amount is the same for all types of target ships.
Also, this ability should disable target's FTL for 10 seconds. I dare say everyone wanna have interceptor in their fleet. You know, beautiful easy target capital slips through your fingers and *BLAM* - no slipspace today - *Explosion*.
Well, that's all I wanted to say. I believe that these changes will make the ship more popular and balanced. I know some people would disagree with me... But they must admit: Sahara is extremely rare ship in players' fleets, because it has only one real strong side: sensor probes. From my point of experienced user I say: now it lacks autonomy from player's actions. Lacks offensive weaponry to destroy unarmed and unprotected targets behind enemy lines. Lacks powerful instruments to change the tide of battle. I believe that my suggestions will give the class a new life, make it more efficient. Of course, the only way to know for sure is test. I know there are lots of sceptics, who would say that I merely ask to overbuff my favorite ship. Well, it's not far from truth. My only answer is simple: Sahara's hull will never allow it to be a combat vessel, and cloak cooldown along with abilities cloak limitation should be enough for fair exchange.
Current state of things is anything, but not asymmetric warfare. And this should change, if you wish this class to perform at full capacity... And I wish.