It first struck me in the Campaign as often, especially when facing Orks or Eldar, I found the behavior options for my ships to be grossly inadequate, this was especially true if I chose to use escort ships which, due to their speed and cost, I strongly favored against both Orks and Eldar. The issue was/is the extreme limits in what I can do with regards to automating my ships, this makes escorts incredibly cumbersome and impractical to use efficiently without heavily abusing the tactical codgitator, which I found I had to run continuously against Eldar at times. What is particularly annoying is the fact that I can't set my ships behavior in relation to their targets, for instance; set my ship to target the rear of their target enemy ship. This inability leaves my escorts either; circling the enemy, often abandoning the weak rear so as to circle right into their cannons; or facing them head on, typically standing still becoming literal sitting ducks.
This is a ridiculous choice and severely limits the viable strategies one can implement as having more than 4 (perhaps one or two more or less depending on your multitasking) ships begins to turn this strategy game into an exercise in futility (as you have to basically choose which ships to not use in any given minute), in multiplayer this makes the game less fun for everyone!
This brings me to multiplayer and Eldar: I am now new to multiplayer and have been playing Imperials so far, when I lost my first game against an Eldar player, with whom I was quite impressed, I was shocked to hear him, say "I'm not good, Eldar are just OPed". I didn't feel that Eldar were OPed at all, he had used his strength in speed and range to maneuver his ships away from mine, I had foolishly taken a light cruiser and a cruiser, and thus was dead in the water, I felt that I knew exactly how to beat him next time and was not at all left feeling he was OPed. However when I tried to even the playing field, in my next Eldar game, by loading up on escorts to throw at the Eldar I realized that it is just too hard to control that many ships without abusing the tactical codgitator (which I plan to do next time even though I feel makes multiplayer much less fun).
Looking at the forms I see that the view that my first Eldar opponent had is a common and widespread view and a particularly depressing issue for Eldar players, who want to demonstrate skill but feel their fleet is pigeon holed into a one trick race with little challenge (once that one trick is mastered). Obviously this was not the intent of the game designers, however I do feel like Eldar are supposed to be the best race IF you are able to micro better than your opponent can macro. Most games with Eldar tend to be incredibly one sided at this moment, as there are not that many variables that the opposing human player can throw at the Eldar player.
As I stated in the title, I don't think that nerfing Eldar is the answer, I think more control over our captains is. This would make the game way more fun for every race I believe, and make it feel more like you are an admiral rather than the captain of a bunch of ships. I think that there are several levels of enhanced AI that would make the game more fun and while will list out what I think would be available in an ideal world, I agree that some of the higher levels might be hard or even impossible to implement however even the most basic level would equalize and enhance the Eldar experience for everyone.
Here is what I propose in order of complexity to implement (I believe). :
- Set target assult side (Simple) - This would be an additional command and would allow you to set which side of a target ship your boat should target. So for example: set your boat to engage at 6k, with its broadside, targeting the enemy's aft deck - Then your boat would attempt to circle the enemy vessel until it's broadside was facing its targets rear, so long as the target's rear was within the specified range and within it's broadside arc it would hold position.
- Set to ram (simple) - This would be an option in distance and would set the ship to ram its target, just like distance this would supersede any orientation orders, the ship would maintain forward momentum at all times never adjusting its speed unless the player gives it an all ahead full order or whatever (just like circling now)
- Set engagement distance range - this one is simple to understand hard to implement. Basically you would set the min and max range instead of just the max, when outside this range the ship would attempt to correct itself in the same fashion as it currently does with min.
- Set target assult side (Smart) - This would be the same as the stupid option above but the ship would attempt to keep the target side in range predictively, based on target's movement etc (this could get tricky when figuring out how the AI should maintain broadside with the aft of a moving ship)
- Set to ram (Smart) - This would be the same as the stupid option above but the ship would use all ahead full on the ram and perhaps be able to target a side (like the rear)
- Set engagment speed - This allow you to set your ship's speed After they have their engagement target obtained. This ensures that your ships don't stand still and become sitting ducks however you would have to weigh your decision carefully as higher speeds = more time not in your desired engagement zone. IE if you set an Eldar escort to engage the aft of an imperial cruiser with its prow between 6k and 3k at 50% speed the escort would attempt to keep the prow facing the aft while going at 50% it's max speed doing an S that keeps the target within its prow triangle.
The following relate to skills and abilities:
- Set minimum target priority - This would only activate skills and abilities against targets whose priority setting is at least x, IE only use torpedoes or taunt on targets whose priority is 2+ (1 or 2).
- Set for multiple effect - This would only activate skills and abilities when you can target x number of ships IE only use novacanon when you can fit 2+ ships in a blast. Or only use Augur Disruptor when there are 3+ ships in range.
Implementing #1 would go a long way towards equalizing Eldar and I am sure that implementing 1 & 2 would absolutely equalize the playing field. This would also make for a much more engaging and fun game experience for every player and race. This would allow Eldar players to have their ships target the rear of enemy ships, while it would also mean that Eldar players would have to make many more tough choices on whether to go after escorst and eat the fire from the line ships or target the line while trying to dodge escort rams from every direction. I think 1, 2 & 3 are would be doable in the current game using a shit click to set target side and min distance on 1 and 3 respectively and adding a button to the distance panel for #2. However some or all of the others may be somewhat more difficult to implement and perhaps even controversial, but I believe every player would find all of these enhancements useful and great improvements to gameplay.