My Review of the Various Specializations

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monkspider
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My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by monkspider » Thu May 28, 2015 11:55 pm

One of my favorite features when I first started playing was the specialization system. It is still one of my favorites but after playing more, I have recognized certain significant issues in its implementation. Specifically, many specializations are of almost no consequence. In this thread I will look at the specializations, and discuss their effects and relative merits.

Japan

Level 1:
Bushido: Units with a red supply deficiency deal more damage when attacked by enemies. Rating: 2/10
Banzai Charge: Infantry units can launch a high risk, high reward attack. Rating 5/10
Neither of these are great, you never really want to let your units get down to red level supply defecits. Even with Bushido your units aren't likely to survive long if they are surrounded by enemies. Banzai charge is decent, and can let you do a bit more damage in some cases, but it isn't going to be gamechanging by any means. At least I never found it to make a big difference. It is unlocked early though and you get to have it for most of the game.

Level 2:
Forced Labor: Attacking units with zero supply and efficiency can yield extra resources. Rating: 0/10
Tokyo Express: Destroyers and Submarines next to a coast provide +1 coastal supply Rating 5/10

Tokyo Express is kind of okay, but realistically it isn't going to add up to much more than 5 supply. There are few times when my supply was critical enough that it would have helped but it is such a small amount it is never going to make a huge difference. Simcc makes a good point below that it can be used to support small marine landings however. I tried using forced labor but it is way too time consuming to encircle and get the AI units down to zero efficiency. It is always easier to just destroy the unit outright. In the few cases that this actually happened, i only got 1 or 2 resources, beyond worthless. Probably the worst specialization in the game.

Level 3:
Super Sensha: More powerful tanks become available sooner
High Powered Aircraft Engines: More advanced aircraft become available sooner

I am not really too sure exactly what the effects on these are. I would say that the aircraft one is likely to be fairly low value considering how few airfields you get in the later scenarios.

Level 4:
Wolfpack: You get two free Type IX German U-Boats for your core Rating: 5/10
Defensive Doctrine: Japanese Infantry can build foxholes, heavy infantry can build bunkers, core units are entrenched during the deployment phase Rating: 1/10

I am not sure how the defensive doctrine one works, there is not an action to build these defensive structures. I guess they are part of the entrenchment process that takes place by staying in place long enough. It is rare to see get used obviously since I never noticed it. Since you are on the attack so much, it is rare that you will get to use a prepared defense. This one could be truly great in a historical-based Japan campaign, so I don't think it is without merit. The German uboats are very cool but subs are not very effective units in general. It is cool to see the German flag on your screen though so I probably gave this one a higher score than it deserves for pure usefulness.

Level 5:
Wunderwaffe: The player can build Tiger I tanks and Nebelwerfer rocket artillery 8/10
Kamikaze: Planes can switch to Kamikaze mode, and the player can build suicide subs, boats and AT lunge miners 0/10

Wunderwaffe is one of the few great specializations. The Tiger tanks are awesome, even if they are short lived. The nebelwerfers are nice pieces of artillery as well. They are great for dislodging the large number of entrenched enemy units you encounter on the Melbourne battle.The main disadvantage of this specialization is that it is only in effect for one scenario. Kamikaze is wildly inapproriate considering Japan is in a position to be winning the war, and the kind of desperate, suicidal units you get with this specialization feel way out of place. Truthfully, it might have some limited utility in the last scenario but it is so out of place I have to give it 0/10. I would really like to see this replaced by a different specialization altogether.


United States

Level 1:
Field Medics: when damaged but not destroyed, infantry attacks generate resource points, get a free medic jeep 4/10
Higgins Boat: Infantry units use landing craft which can attack and then can attack right after unloading 3/10

The debate on which of these two is superior has raged since shortly after the game's release. Ultimately though, it is a fairly meaningless debate since neither of them are very good. I would give the nod slightly to field medics because even though the resources you get are very minimal, they are very helpful during the Phillipines scenarios where you are on the defensive and resources are very tight. After these early scenarios though its usefulness falls off a cliff. The Higgins boat had very few places where I felt it came in handy. There aren't that many amphibious invasions, and even on those that do exist, it didn't help very much at all.




Level 2:
Jerry Can: Land command point total increased by 2 7/10
Flight School: Air units start off with one star of experience 8/10

These are two of the best specializations in the game, and the player has to choose between the two! To me, this is the most interesting choice in the game. Flight School is great, but of less value later in the game. Jerry Can will sometimes make a surprisingly helpful difference. The only downside is that the US is often so tight on resources that I wasn't able to deploy enough units to meet even the normal cap. Later in the game, the +2 becomes less meaningful as a percentage. Still though, both are good choices.

Level 3:
Proximity Fuse: Land and naval AA effectiveness enhanced 4/10
Naval Radar: Adds radar range of 10 to all US warships

I never played a campaign with naval radar yet. It sounds like it is pretty good but it comes late enough that the high tide of the IJN has already passed. Still though, I bet it comes in handy. I am not sure how much proximity fuse made a difference in my AA. It wasn't a night and day difference in any case, but i imagine AA is something that gets used enough that it will make a small difference over the course of the game.

Level 4:
Landing Craft Tank (LCT): Allows tanks to attack right after disembarking 2/10
Advanced Aeronautics: Advance aircraft become available earlier

This late in the game, the boost to amphibious invasions is even less meaningful. I am not sure how the advanced aeronautics works, and exactly what units it unlocks when. I will have to reserve passing judgement until I find this out.

Level 5:
British Pacific Fleet: You get a free British CV, BB, two destroyers, and two air units 3/10
Manhattan Project: B-29 Nuclear bombers can be purchased, allowing you to drop atom bombs on the enemy

I am not sure how powerful the Manhattan Project is yet, in my first playthrough I took the British fleet. It is very cool and gives you a LOT of free units, but you only get it for one scenario and during that scenario there is not really any meaningful Japanese fleet to use them against. This specialization would be very nice much earlier in the game. I would think, given the nature of the last scenario that the Manhattan project is more useful of the two.

Final verdict: I raved about the specialization system during my initial review of the game and I still absolutely love the idea of making both sides have significant differences in playstyle but as is, almost all of the specializations are of very little consequence. I feel that almost all of them should be buffed, and some of them need to be dropped or reworked entirely. Kamikaze in particular should be replaced by something else. I also feel like the specializations in general should unlock much faster, many of these are unlocked so late that they don't really get used. Manhattan Project and MAYBE Wunderwaffe are really the only ones that feel like they should unlock on the last scenario.
Last edited by monkspider on Fri May 29, 2015 9:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

AgentTBC
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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by AgentTBC » Fri May 29, 2015 12:41 am

Just a note: There is definitely an action to build foxholes and bunkers because I've done it.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by Boarspear » Fri May 29, 2015 2:07 am

Pretty interesting rundown -- I'm going to try Wunderwaffen again, but the first time I used Tiger Tanks they couldn't fight anyone or even defend themselves, even with full supply. This was reported by someone else, too, who said this problem when away when they restarted the scenario. I think these specializations are cool, too, but need reworking. And how the heck do you drop the bomb (and why would you want to, when your troops are under the mushroom cloud?)?

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by simcc » Fri May 29, 2015 2:34 am

IMO, no specialization should be unlock at last scenario as it limit the use and players won't have the time to love them but maybe this can be addressed when we have a grand campaign. I agree to most of the points above except a few.

IJN
- banzai is very very useful IMO used it so many times to breach a river defence with speed. Bombard the entrench enemy and Banzai in when low efficiency works like magic hence I would give it a higher rating
- bushido is really useless maybe it should change to cut off from supply rather than red efficiency
- force labor agree it's totally useless too even worst than field medic lol
- Tokyo express I find very useful as I do a lot of different area landing so a destroyer can support up to 2 marine is great for my play style
- sesha or aircraft both is helpful but I would say aircraft it's a let down as many advance aircraft need land air field which IJ do not have
- defensive doctrine I find it very useful especially in NZ but I do hope we have this earlier
- kamikaze totally agree with you as I have point out earlier in other place that who needs a kamikaze when they are winning lol should have unlock after midway IMO
U.S.
- field medic and higgin agree but Higgins is better just less chance to deploy those. Maybe in a GC mode it will be very very useful
- jerry and flight both agree with monk spider
- proxi fuse always useful due to the kamikaze nature later and naval radar also help but again not much naval battle to use them to an effect in later game
- LCT I only use it when I have Higgins lol guess they come in pair and I find them useful advance plane was good save me some upgrade
- British fleet well came too late to love them and nuke is a better option for me even for 1 turn lol and they are expensive but luv that white plane a lot a lot. IMO nuke should not be a specialization but rather a reward choice of player do well eg get all secondary objective so HQ will send you 2 nukes in Tokyo

-

monkspider
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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by monkspider » Fri May 29, 2015 3:35 am

Yeah, Tiger tanks are bugged based on the number of people who have had issues with them. They worked okay for me on my playthrough luckily.

SimCC: That is a good point about using Tokyo Express to support a small marine landing, I hadn't considered that. I can see how that could be handy. I will change the score from 3/10 to 5/10. Also a fair point on Banzai, I am sure I didn't use it to its full effect. I might have to give it an increase too.

Agent: That is odd, I never got the option. I have the banzai charge action but nothing defensive. Probably a bug unless it can only be used on certain terrain under certain circumstances or something

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by simcc » Fri May 29, 2015 4:03 am

There is another button like repair spanner so it's hard to see. Located right beside that banzai icon maybe developer should change that foxhole icon. Normal infantry build foxhole with 10rp and 3 strength while heavy infantry can build bunker at 20rp and 3 strength IIRC.

Note I also use foxhole to secure a long supply line, they are like infantry only stationary so enemy can't cut your long supply line if there is foxholes

rezaf
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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by rezaf » Fri May 29, 2015 6:28 am

Definately an undercooked mechanic of the game with much potential for improvements.
I agree with your conclusion that most things you get are in the end almost nonconsequential.

By and large, I think they should be overhauled completely and replaced with stuff that REALLY makes a difference in turn to turn gameplay.
_____
rezaf

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by Dragoon. » Fri May 29, 2015 7:47 am

I found Bushido to be the best of those Japanese specializations, get completely op when combined with Defensive Doctrine.

Art of Pulling is back in OoB:P, and it stronger than ever.
OoB:P AI's wet dream is to cut off your supply lines, and like the PzC AI it doesn't look beyond the current turn.
If I walk past an enemy unit in his field of view, in 1 hex distance leaving, a 1 hex wide corridor behind me, then this enemy unit will always go and cut my unit supply line.

This is smart, but can be exploited if the are not checks or balances. In case a unit is heavy entrenched, in difficult terrain or covered by other enemy units, I use this behavior to pull the enemy unit into the open.
For example a heavy infantry entrenched in a city hex protected by with AT-guns ( early in 2nd mission Japan Campaign, Road To Manila). Hard nut to crack. So I walk past the hvy.Inf in 1 hex distance on open terrain. During AI turn the heavy infantry will abandon the city, even it's a objective, to cut my unit off. Not caring about the repercussion next turn. Because I got a tank, arty and additional infantry in place. The hvy.infantry gets destroyed in the open with no or minimal casualties in a single turn, supply lines are reestablished and the objective taken too. All in a two turns with minimal effort.
This tactics work especially good with Bushido as it protect your bait unit, most enemy infantry unit won't even try to attack you on their own. Later with defensive doctrine you can pop a bunker or mg nest in front of stronger unit like tanks, and pull your infantry unit back at the same time. You could say all again. A 30 point infantry unit don't take much to repair, and the turns it takes to restore efficacy don't bother me, as I spam infantry units. Fresh unit take the point, exhausted units fall back and take hexes, until I need to pause a turn because of a difficult terrain or to consolidate the front line, to avoid exposing my flanks.

I was actually writing a guide about this and waiting for some free time to take example pictures, so this thread triggered me to give a sneak preview. :)

It's similar to the tactic I used in Panzer Corps in the low lands campaign. There I placed an auxiliary unit in trucks on a river hex inside the enemy fov, but artillery behind it and outside its FOV. The enemy would abandon city hexes like one surrounded only by bridges and rivers to attack this unit.
Instead being bog down for several turns assaulting this very difficult position, I just walked right through it. Basic chess strategy, make sacrifices for the great gain. In this case I traded resources for time. The resources to recruit replacement you can always acquire later, but a moment in time is gone forever once it passed.
Well, later Kerensky made a change to avoid important defenders abandon their positions. :wink:

BTW: Naval radar not only detect ships but also planes 10 hex away. That why it's very powerful specialization for the US to intercept Japaneses air raids.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by Myrddraal » Fri May 29, 2015 11:05 am

Hmm, the AI does look forward beyond it's turn to examine the possible repercussions, so it sounds like this may be a balance issue. If you could send me a couple of good savegames from which I can easily reproduce this exploit, I can have a look to see if the AI can be tweaked to behave a little better in that situation.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by Kull » Fri May 29, 2015 6:33 pm

Myrddraal wrote:Hmm, the AI does look forward beyond it's turn to examine the possible repercussions, so it sounds like this may be a balance issue. If you could send me a couple of good savegames from which I can easily reproduce this exploit, I can have a look to see if the AI can be tweaked to behave a little better in that situation.
I've noticed this quite a bit as well. It's gotten to the point where I deliberately try to avoid giving the AI this opportunity, as it's a real exploit that allows the human player to carve through a defensive position very quickly. The other one is where the AI will move severely damaged units (3 points or less) up to the front line to close a gap. Just suicide...those things should be hightailing it to the rear and rebuilding.

Edit: There is no situation where a fortified AI Heavy infantry unit should EVER move in order to attack the enemy. It might make limited sense 10% of the time, and even that is questionable. But 100% of the time it takes the toughest part of the AI defensive line and turns it into a sieve.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by monkspider » Fri May 29, 2015 9:46 pm

Dragoon wrote:I found Bushido to be the best of those Japanese specializations, get completely op when combined with Defensive Doctrine.

Art of Pulling is back in OoB:P, and it stronger than ever.
OoB:P AI's wet dream is to cut off your supply lines, and like the PzC AI it doesn't look beyond the current turn.
If I walk past an enemy unit in his field of view, in 1 hex distance leaving, a 1 hex wide corridor behind me, then this enemy unit will always go and cut my unit supply line.

This is smart, but can be exploited if the are not checks or balances. In case a unit is heavy entrenched, in difficult terrain or covered by other enemy units, I use this behavior to pull the enemy unit into the open.
For example a heavy infantry entrenched in a city hex protected by with AT-guns ( early in 2nd mission Japan Campaign, Road To Manila). Hard nut to crack. So I walk past the hvy.Inf in 1 hex distance on open terrain. During AI turn the heavy infantry will abandon the city, even it's a objective, to cut my unit off. Not caring about the repercussion next turn. Because I got a tank, arty and additional infantry in place. The hvy.infantry gets destroyed in the open with no or minimal casualties in a single turn, supply lines are reestablished and the objective taken too. All in a two turns with minimal effort.
This tactics work especially good with Bushido as it protect your bait unit, most enemy infantry unit won't even try to attack you on their own. Later with defensive doctrine you can pop a bunker or mg nest in front of stronger unit like tanks, and pull your infantry unit back at the same time. You could say all again. A 30 point infantry unit don't take much to repair, and the turns it takes to restore efficacy don't bother me, as I spam infantry units. Fresh unit take the point, exhausted units fall back and take hexes, until I need to pause a turn because of a difficult terrain or to consolidate the front line, to avoid exposing my flanks.

I was actually writing a guide about this and waiting for some free time to take example pictures, so this thread triggered me to give a sneak preview. :)

It's similar to the tactic I used in Panzer Corps in the low lands campaign. There I placed an auxiliary unit in trucks on a river hex inside the enemy fov, but artillery behind it and outside its FOV. The enemy would abandon city hexes like one surrounded only by bridges and rivers to attack this unit.
Instead being bog down for several turns assaulting this very difficult position, I just walked right through it. Basic chess strategy, make sacrifices for the great gain. In this case I traded resources for time. The resources to recruit replacement you can always acquire later, but a moment in time is gone forever once it passed.
Well, later Kerensky made a change to avoid important defenders abandon their positions. :wink:

BTW: Naval radar not only detect ships but also planes 10 hex away. That why it's very powerful specialization for the US to intercept Japaneses air raids.
Great thoughts Dragoon, I look forward to you sharing your guide! I have to say though, that sounds like a pretty "gamey" tactic. I don't think Bushido has much use for players in normal gameplay. Or is there another use for it I haven't considered?

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by FOARP » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:57 am

Banzai for me worked out less useful than it might have - I often forgot it was there, and when I did remember it always seemed to fail, even against defenceless units like radar. I think a better implementation would have been a percentage chance of each attack being a banzai attack - perhaps only when attacking weakened units.

Defensive doctrine is only useful in the Christchurch scenario, and even there it's questionable whether you not better off just withdrawing your units across the river and forming a strong front there, rather than weakening them and spend RP defending the positions you hold across the river at the very start. Yeah, I'm sure you can exploit problems with the AI using it, but that's not my idea of a fun game.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by simcc » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:50 am

The thing with defensive doctrine is like kamikaze which the developers trying to get historical and it would be useful if both def doctrine and kamikaze if the Japanese is actually defending in campaign rather than invasion of Australia.

IRL Japanese use almost everything for defence and they have deadly traps hence the defensive doctrine which saw many booby traps, tunnels, hidden bunker to be build at all islands and I would be sure player will find it useful if we play Okinawa, Phillipine defense as Japan.

In the event to create a win for Japanese campaign, the developer have render these 2 specialization not useful

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by jomni » Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:53 am

simcc wrote:The thing with defensive doctrine is like kamikaze which the developers trying to get historical and it would be useful if both def doctrine and kamikaze if the Japanese is actually defending in campaign rather than invasion of Australia.

IRL Japanese use almost everything for defence and they have deadly traps hence the defensive doctrine which saw many booby traps, tunnels, hidden bunker to be build at all islands and I would be sure player will find it useful if we play Okinawa, Phillipine defense as Japan.

In the event to create a win for Japanese campaign, the developer have render these 2 specialization not useful
Maybe the Japanese campaign should have another branch and can be won by defending. Or a late start variant where the game begins with the US island hopping. *Don't have the game yet.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by rezaf » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:11 pm

monkspider wrote:Manhattan Project: B-29 Nuclear bombers can be purchased, allowing you to drop atom bombs on the enemy
I just got there and ... Manhattan Project is the most useless and disappointing specialization in the entire game, imo.
It gives access to bomber with an extremely powerful attack that destroys basically all units in a hex and all surrounding hexes. So far so good.
But this unit is a suicide unit! The 500 RP bomber is consumed in the single attack in can make.
No long rearming delay or having the bomber revert to an ordinary bomber, no, it's destroyed.
Sh*t on a stick.
_____
rezaf

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by Bylandt11 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:42 am

monkspider wrote:

Jerry Can: Land command point total increased by 2 7/10
Flight School: Air units start off with one star of experience 8/10

These are two of the best specializations in the game, and the player has to choose between the two! To me, this is the most interesting choice in the game. Flight School is great, but of less value later in the game. Jerry Can will sometimes make a surprisingly helpful difference. The only downside is that the US is often so tight on resources that I wasn't able to deploy enough units to meet even the normal cap. Later in the game, the +2 becomes less meaningful as a percentage. Still though, both are good choices.
I used to be of the same opinion, but I'm now leaning more towards Jerry Can. Those 2 points make a lot of difference in some early scenarios, while experience has almost no effect on air units. It's true US resources are very tight. One more reason not to have to buy very expensive replacements to keep those air units at a high level of experience.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by Longasc » Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:02 am

Still have to play Japan.

I think Defensive Doctrine gets undervalued, but it's bit like Higgins Boats for the USA. If you are playing the IJN Campaign, you seem to be attacking mostly. In a defensive kind of campaign it would be worth gold.

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by PanzerTax » Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:37 am

Maybe I missed something, but does the AI use specializations? If the Japanese AI player used randomised specializations, that would give replayability to the US campaign for example.
Favourite Games Before Panzer Corps: Pacific General, People's General, Panzer General II... pure magic!

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by adherbal » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:21 am

But this unit is a suicide unit! The 500 RP bomber is consumed in the single attack in can make.
No long rearming delay or having the bomber revert to an ordinary bomber, no, it's destroyed.
Sh*t on a stick.
Look at it this way: For 500 RP you buy the destruction of up to 7 enemy units. If you pick the target right that can kill 1000+ RP of units instantly. If these things reloaded a small pack of them would clear the whole map.
Image

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Re: My Review of the Various Specializations

Post by rezaf » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:37 am

adherbal wrote:Look at it this way: For 500 RP you buy the destruction of up to 7 enemy units. If you pick the target right that can kill 1000+ RP of units instantly. If these things reloaded a small pack of them would clear the whole map.
While correct, that's not the right way to look at it in my opinion.
First of all, 500 RP is a very hefty price tag, even at this point in the campaign. No chance in hell someone would be able to field a "small pack", so that point is moot.
Next, getting such tight concentration of units is rather unlikely, much less units it actually makes sense to spend the attack on. (I finished the scenario since)
Then, the unit has also crappy fuel - much less than an interceptor - so you can't even fly around a while looking for a target. The single map where you get it is dotted with AA, so there's a decent chance for it to take major damage at a whim. It also makes no sense whatsoever for this to be a suicide unit.

Like with most specializations (and some other mechanics as well, such as experience), it seems to have been created without regard to it's actual place/usefulness in the campaign. Also, you folks seem to have been overly afraid of making stuff have actual impact.
At the VERY least, the unit should both have the same fuel amount and revert back to a conventional bomber when the bomb has been dropped.
Another way would be to just have this be a special attack for the normal bomber unit - one that costs, say 250 RP to use and had a 5 turn cooldown.
This would prevent spamming but still would make the ability more useful. Still not nearly powerful enough for the last ability you get to use it in a grand total of a single mission, but at least somewhat more useful.
_____
rezaf

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