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Ground combat vs. Air combat v22.3


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I know this is probably a much discussed issue, but I don't see a thread for v21+ so I figured it might be time to bring it back up.

Concern: The balance between air combat and ground combat is skewed too far in favor of air combat.

Reason: Air combat makes or breaks your game, I'm currently considering giving up a Hardcore(ish) Veteran game that has made it to February simply because I can't keep up with the air war. I'll admit that this is largely due to the micromanagement that air combat requires and that I lose too many planes. On the ground combat side, I am still able to win downed UFO missions against up to Corvettes with my B team, which has default weapons and hand-me-down armor (and a pulse laser scout car). Ground combat is quickly becoming merely a formality to increase my funds to buy more and better interceptors. This is where I have failed, I only have 2 labs and 2 workshops, I think I need at least twice that to keep up with the power curve, basically meaning that all my bases will have to be built along the same lines.

Potential Fixes:

  1. UFOs land more frequently allowing for ground missions without interception.
  2. Faster repair times for aircraft
  3. Less micro for air combat, specifically options to auto-dodge and stagger fire
  4. Alternate ground missions, i.e. counter alien infiltration, attack alien sympathizers

Reading through threads that basically say "Don't worry about ground combat, rush the air combat techs" seems to bare this out.

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You're "supposed to" fail at air combat. The point is to get to the final mission before you fail completely.

I don't have any problem with failing at air combat, I just think that air combat shouldn't be the axle the game turns on, that should be ground combat. On veteran, iron-man mode even, I've never felt too threatened by ground combat. But every time I fly two foxtrots and a condor against two fighters and a corvette, I know that unless the enemy ships break up in my favor, I am likely to lose a plane, and if I lose a foxtrot, I won't be knocking down much for a while, which means less missions, less cash, and slower upgrading which is the vicious circle of failure. To stave it off, I must focus on aircraft tech and devote my workshops to building planes. For an X-com like, this focus on air combat seems unbalanced.

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Actually there was a HUGE debate about six months ago about the balance of AC vs. GC, Chris made a lot of balance changes to fix that. I don't think we're going to go there again, but who knows? I think the balance in is pretty good right now because in the OG AC was pretty much a joke. In this game it actually is an important part of your strategy. However, there is no way to win the game without doing a lot of GC, so it's still the most important part of the game. In XCom Apocalypse you could actually achieve total air superiority and hold off the invasion forever (at least I was able to do it.) You can't do that in this game.

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I want to say to that, that i think the balance is exactly right.

Sure aircombat is important, but ground combat gives you all the ressources and direct money.

I also really like how the airiel warfare progresses, getting harder and harder every month.

This truly feels like an alien invasion.

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The debate is still open and I'm happy to listen to thoughts on it. But bear in mind we're too far along to make major changes to the way the game works. Only six weeks to go now.

I figured 1 and 2 would be easier for fine adjust and 3 and 4 being nice-to-haves.

Tactical combat is the meat and potatoes of a game like this and I'm worrying more about air combat than tactical combat, even on veteran ironman.

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One thing that makes this problem less visible is the overly favourable autoresolve outcomes. I've had one engagement that I simply couldn't find a way to win: two Condors with alenium missiles and basic autocannons vs. a Corvette. The best I could manage was let one of the Condors flank and empty its ammo reserves, then slip the other Condor past the Corvette's insta-kill rockets and have it fire both missiles and most of its autocannon ammo before getting shot down. This only did about 80% damage to the Covette. But the autoresolve gave this battle a 98% chance, and resulted in both Condors surviving with minor damage and some ammo left over. But since I'm playing on Linux I couldn't autoresolve without getting a CTD afterwards, so after many reloads I had to let the Corvette go.

Obviously, the chances to win manually and by autoresolving should be brought closer. In fact, I think autoresolve should give somewhat less than optimal outcomes, just like air strikes give less money than ground missions. Autoresolve should be a way to avoid wasting time on easy battles you simply can't lose and not something that lets you circumvent challenge.

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I think autoresolve should give somewhat less than optimal outcomes, just like air strikes give less money than ground missions.
It frequently does give very sub-optimal outcomes. It's very uneven. Sometimes you win battles that you could never win in manual combat and sometimes you lose battles that you could easily win by controlling your jets manually. Trying to fix the problem gives me a headache just thinking about all calculations and variables that are involved to create a "formula" that is close to a human players outcomes. Edited by StellarRat
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I have no problem with outcome rolls, but is developer changing their mind regarding necessity of the fuel? Autocombat taking no fuel and actually giving fuel(!) can break the balance by allowing your squad to shoot down more UFO than what your global strategy and squad composition dictates.

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I have no problem with outcome rolls, but is developer changing their mind regarding necessity of the fuel? Autocombat taking no fuel and actually giving fuel(!) can break the balance by allowing your squad to shoot down more UFO than what your global strategy and squad composition dictates.
There is that inconsistency too.
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I know this is probably a much discussed issue, but I don't see a thread for v21+ so I figured it might be time to bring it back up.

Concern: The balance between air combat and ground combat is skewed too far in favor of air combat.

Reason: Air combat makes or breaks your game, I'm currently considering giving up a Hardcore(ish) Veteran game that has made it to February simply because I can't keep up with the air war. I'll admit that this is largely due to the micromanagement that air combat requires and that I lose too many planes. On the ground combat side, I am still able to win downed UFO missions against up to Corvettes with my B team, which has default weapons and hand-me-down armor (and a pulse laser scout car). Ground combat is quickly becoming merely a formality to increase my funds to buy more and better interceptors. This is where I have failed, I only have 2 labs and 2 workshops, I think I need at least twice that to keep up with the power curve, basically meaning that all my bases will have to be built along the same lines.

so i view my self as being pretty bad at air combat, so my advice here might be salt in a wound we share more then any thing helpful.

if you have 2 labs and 2 workshops you sound like your chugging along just fine tech wise i have found i can keep up with the power curb just fine with 1 lab: to be noted i only have 1 drop ship with a few spares not a full B team. you might be cutting your self short with getting radar coverage up in other funding blocks i am hardly a good judge here just a thought. a complaint i do have about air-combat in that it takes a lot of time to even get a base up 20 days minimum if your a logistics master.

condors suck they suck so bad its not even funny, its too slow to catch any thing past scouts reliably; i understand this all to be was a needed nerf to stop them from being the only aircraft you need. that being said i try to send squads of three foxtrots for any thing with escorts and two foxs after any thing with out. i found that i got better results dodging by strafeing with afterburner on then the combat roll ever truly helped when you think about the loss of damage dealt, also dont be afraid to fire 1 set of torpedoes then disengage the other aircraft just to keep escorts off your back; making a 2nd or 3rd pass is much faster then losing an aircraft. and never be afraid to take a little machine gun fire from a fighter; its largely harmless if your speeding past. once you reach corsairs keeping one or two on stand by for fighter squads is nice, but not needed you can get effective results by giving your foxtrots missiles to deal with fighter squads; fly at right angles so they dodge into the missile being shot it takes 2 craft at least, or just risk the auto resolve which will have better results then the torpedoes will. hope some of this is helpful

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Condors can last until Marauders, I don't know if I will replace them with Corsairs.

If I could spare the workshop time, I would in a heartbeat. Corsairs can reliably gun down 2 heavy fighters and still keep up with Foxtrots. That's far better than Condors.

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Condors also can gun down 3 heavy fighters or even 3 Interceptors. The only difference between Condors and Corsairs is just speed and range - nothing more.

And after the nth time my Condor and Foxtrot blend failed an intercept, this is more than enough for me. It's kind of like saying the only difference between a .22 rimfire and a 5.56x45 round is the length.

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Trying to fix the problem gives me a headache just thinking about all calculations and variables that are involved to create a "formula" that is close to a human players outcomes.

If you do a quick search of the forum you'll find a lot of good ideas... One of the latest suggestions is in post #46 of this thread:

http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/9612-General-Issues-V22-Experimental-3/page5

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If you do a quick search of the forum you'll find a lot of good ideas... One of the latest suggestions is in post #46 of this thread:

http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/9612-General-Issues-V22-Experimental-3/page5

I also don't think it takes into a account the inital approach angles or whether or not you're willing to simply fire your weapons and leave even if the enemy is not shot down (hit and run.) As far as I can tell every battle is "to the death" in autoresolve. Against larger UFO's I'm always willing to go for multiple sorties to get the job done vs. getting my jets killed trying to do it in one strike.
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Maybe with plasma, maybe... we're still talking three against one here.

If I remember correctly from when I did some calculations, this is mathematically possible (i.e. the weapons the Condor is armed with can put out enough damage to bring down three HF though not - unlike a Corsair - 3 Interceptors). In terms of skill required, though, I think this would be very hard. One 'mis'-timed missile from the HF which catches you inside your dodge cool-down and its over.

A Corsair, on the other hand, can win this fight every time.

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