Nuke Sub Rework

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This is more of a half effort post primarily because it involves a good bit of moving parts and a lot of potential adjustments that can cause problems. I'm going to divide it into two parts: conceptual and practical as if people don't think it's an interesting idea to move forward with as a concept then the practical details are pointless. I'd appreciate specificity on which is the bigger problem for people between the two.

Concept:

I do not like the niche nuke subs operate in. They are pretty much a senton exclusive unit because their actual viability, this excludes meme games, requires:

  1. A navy segment that warrants winning
  2. A way to project nukes into the enemy through navy that cannot be done through land
  3. Enough value from navy to warrant investing 40-50k mass at a minimum, yet this mass investment does not result in a game win itself.

This means something like Lena River or Metir has no use for nuke subs because an SML from the land bases will have the same travel arc into the opposing base as the nuke subs. The only difference is if it's some cheese super far in a corner with zero cover.

Beetles has no use for it because a won navy will have battleships kill all the bases regardless.

This is such a pathetically small role for what is up to 33% of a T3 navy roster for some factions.

Instead I propose that nuke subs be reworked from a STRATEGIC weapon into a TACTICAL weapon. Rather than shooting strategic missiles the unit will instead be based around the tactical billy nuke of the UEF. This will allow nuke subs to be made cheaper while also carrying a larger role in general navy combat and rewarding good unit mix/targeting further. The units can be used to snipe buildpower and factories, snipe frigate blobs, and kill off retreating tempests/battleships. It can also nuke reclaim fields and therefore delay the snowball loss in a late game navy fight.

For this to work I would also recommend to remove TMD from battleships as this would provide too much safety. Instead cruisers should be the primary security tool, but it could be possible to add TMD to other unique support units such as the missile ship and maybe keep it on the battlecruiser.

Practical:

Here are some values I've been messing around with to give some sort of framework for the discussion if people want to get into the details.

Nuke Sub:
10,000 Mass (75 mass per second) -> 5000 (38 mass per second)
160k Energy (1200 energy per second) -> 60k (500 e per second)
1080 bp

Tactical Nuke:
12,000 Mass (40 mass per second) -> 4800 (80 mass per second)
1.4M Energy (4500 e per second) -> 300k (5000 e per second)
324k Buildtime (300 seconds unassisted) -> 64800 (60 seconds unassisted)

I centered the costs around the current values for the UEF billy.

The nuke would still do the same damage as the UEF billy to maintain consistency, meaning it would take at least 4 of these missiles to kill a battleship itself. The subs aren't intended to solo battleships and are instead focused on isolating them or picking off any that get away from the fight. Or achieving high value in some blob of units.

The big practical issues I've ran into with this idea are:

  1. The battleship TMD, which IMO is easy to rectify as I don't think battleship TMD adds anything to the game in the first place.
  2. Just spamming TMD on the water. Late game navy combat already involves SACUs being dropped to get reclaim and build SAMs. It will not be difficult to just use them to build a few TMD as well. I'm unsure how to feel about this issue and it's the main reason I decided to stop theorycrafting about the idea and just make a post because I can't tell if this makes it a deadend or if it's viable if we tinker with values like cost, hp of the missle, and so on.

Note: I am aware that the Seraphim battleship exists and that I didn't cover it, but functionally it's just a more inefficient nuke sub when building a missile so I would just carry that over into the billy.

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That sounds like an awesome idea!
Seems easily enough countered but with just enough room to work with Navy in its current iteration with a few minor adjustments.

A few concerns I have, however, are:


  1. Where would that leave navy experimentals in the overall position of navy, and how would they be able to counter (or not) this change?

The Atlantis is already in quite an awkward position as is - introducing another unit (not necessarily a direct "counter" but another unit to cause havoc) against it seems like it would leave it in a worse spot; Ground firing Billies with nuke subs, specifically.


  1. Navy Factories and their position.

Investing 10K mass into 2 Nuke subs will most likely wipe out any Navy support factory or Navy HQ in the target zone with 2 Billies - Securing a navy win much quicker. You invest 10K into a win, or into a battleship that might give you a win. Seems like the Nuke subs would be a far better option.


  1. Specifically for the UEF - Shield Boats and Cruisers... how would they work in tandem?

The TMD range of cruisers barely matches that of a Shield Boat's range. Meaning the Projectile will almost always collide with the shields as the cruiser doesn't have enough time to shoot the projectile. Should this be a "just move the shield boats further back or cruisers forward" type of thing or would cruisers overall get a TMD range increase?


Cruisers + New Nuke Subs in tandem would sound like a great way to agonize players.
I'm actually really interested in this. Looking forward to your reply!


~ Stryker

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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I quite like how this maintains the nukesub as a niche unit with an unique role, bit drags it out of the little corner of irrelevance it currently finds itself in.

I think your thought of removing TMD from battleships is sound.

@ComradeStryker
Re point 2: People'll catch on quickly enough and start building TMD near their navy factories. Or they won't, in which case they suffer the consequences.

I share your concerns regarding Atlantis, however.

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Atlantis is intended to be an intel/torp tank unit for UEF navy atm. You shouldn't be off exploring the Pacific with it. This means it should have cruisers that can provide cover for it as it should be somewhere in the middle of your fleet.

Tempest is one of the reasons I actively want to do this change. It's insane how you can keep an 8k hp tempest alive forever because it ran away before your battleships can finish it off and then it gets a vet and regens half its hp. I specifically want to be able to snipe them as they move away to safety.

Navy factories being at risk just opens up extra room for positional play to me. As you said it's the equivalent of a battleship (more like 1.5 or 2 battleships once you account for the energy you need to produce the nuke) and not having those is extremely risky early on. Later on once you have 7-10 battleships you won't feel it as hard and it gives a way to hurt players beyond the battleship micro grind.

In general I would want billy projectiles to ignore shields tbh. I don't know if that's possible? I'm not sure if a nuke itself actually goes through shields.

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@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

I see. Opening up plays seems like quite the change. I'm all in!
This would give more power to navy make decisive plays. Nuke subs are rarely used as is, unless it's to end a game. This would be a good change for these units.

Though, one more question:
If the mass costs and whatnot are being changed, would any other stat be changed as well?
Specifically in their damage output as UEF and Cybran nuke subs fire tac missiles. Would these become weaker? Removed? Altered? Or even their HP, speed, etc.


In general I would want billy projectiles to ignore shields tbh. I don't know if that's possible? I'm not sure if a nuke itself actually goes through shields.

The Billy projectile only goes through allied shields. If it collides with an enemy shield, it detonates. The shield absorbs whatever it could with its HP and the rest bleeds through. However, shields do stack, which is why the ACU's Billy is lacking - (I made a post about that here.)

If shields, (Shields boats included,) are stacked tightly, the damage is mitigated and almost nothing gets through.
I fear this problem may carry over to Nuke Subs if your change does go live.

Mobile shields, shield boats, and base shields; they all counter the Billy too easily.


~ Stryker

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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In general I would want billy projectiles to ignore shields tbh. I don't know if that's possible? I'm not sure if a nuke itself actually goes through shields.

Yes it is possible.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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one of advantages of nuke submarines not mentioned here is the fact that their nukes can be launched from way closer to enemy compared to immobile nuke launcher building (that is usually in middle of your base far from the enemy) and thus arrive way faster, giving enemy little time to react in comparison, and avoid SMD cover (that often nullifies launcher nukes with their "defense shadow") by attacking from different angle, ik this doesn't matter on tiny maps that most people play on but even on 20km it seems valuable to me (yeah yeah sentons mostly)

maybe nuke submarines should instead get better at being nuke submarines rather than be completely changed into some "advanced missile ship" by giving them a more sudden and fast nuclear strike compared to nuke launchers

such as:
-their nukes traveling in a different and shorter path compared to nuke launchers, ex. directly towards target like billy does instead of going to space first like SML launched ones since they are already short range anyways to increase the speed at which they hit even more
-or even costing less to build them as they do way less damage (less than 1/3rd) compared to SML nukes in first place and having shorter range while costing the same
-or being buffed to same power as normal nukes so their cost fits instead and so they can be used vs navy as well and not just bases, one of biggest problems with nuking navy (sometimes the only way to deal with enemy navy once it gets to sufficient numbers and you can't even get in water because of it) is that it can so easily get out of the way as soon as you hear the nuke notification, which only works because of how long it takes a nuke to get to target from a launcher, meanwhile nuke submarines can hit the target a lot faster due to being able to launch it from closer, the problem is that the nuke itself is weaker while costing the same as launcher one, preventing its use against navy, the only advantage it currently has over normal nuke is the mobility of the nuke submarine and more difficulty in scouting them compared to launchers, lack of which combined with all the downsides is what makes them niche, so I suggest making them better at what they were originally for instead of redesigning them

another thing that idk if is possible, if you insist on adding this weaker and cheaper nuke to them, is the ability to build both this weaker nuke and normal nuke on nuke submarines with different build/launch buttons to allow them to be used both ways (short range billy-like and long range real nuke, with different costs)

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This feels too far from the core concept of the unit and what non-FAF players will be used to when coming to FAF, thus making the hurdle for new players to overcome that bit higher, and I feel such changes should only be by rare exception/where the change will greatly improve overall gameplay, for example with the introduction of T3 MAA (where there was a clear gap in land unit's anti-air options).

The core expectation for the nuke sub would be that it builds a powerful missile, and that missile can get blocked by SMD but not TMD. Changing things by having SMD have no use against it, presumably multiple TMD being needed (if similar to a billy nuke), in addition to other consequential changes would be a lot when there's no pressing need for a naval unit with a billy nuke launcher. The TMD removal from battleships would also buff UEF and Seraphim cruisers slightly requiring further balance consideration.

If the subs are seen as too weak (Im not sure they are) I'd rather they had a boost to their existing capabilities - for example doubling their tactical missiles fired. I'd also be ok with a slight cost and damage reduction to the nuclear warhead provided it was still blocked by SMD, but this couldn't be much as SMD missiles would need to cost significantly less than the nuke sub missiles. Mach's suggestions for changing things like the flight time of the missile would also still be in keeping with the original unit.

M27AI developer; Devlog and more general AI development guide:
https://forum.faforever.com/topic/2373/ai-development-guide-and-m27ai-v66-devlog

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@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

  1. Just spamming TMD on the water. Late game navy combat already involves SACUs being dropped to get reclaim and build SAMs. It will not be difficult to just use them to build a few TMD as well. I'm unsure how to feel about this issue and it's the main reason I decided to stop theorycrafting about the idea and just make a post because I can't tell if this makes it a deadend or if it's viable if we tinker with values like cost, hp of the missle, and so on.

How about long range nuclear torpedoes?

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It was suggested by someone to cheapen the nuke sub then add a upgrade to build nukes, and I think we could make a very useful unit, gets more used on practical games, and still gets used in meme games and phantom games.

Base unit, long range free tact missile only, unit way cheaper

3 individual upgrades

Tml

Adds static tml style build able missiles for extra damage and range

Tactical nuke

Billy nuke

Nuke

Just like now.

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@mazornoob said in Nuke Sub Rework:

@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

  1. Just spamming TMD on the water. Late game navy combat already involves SACUs being dropped to get reclaim and build SAMs. It will not be difficult to just use them to build a few TMD as well. I'm unsure how to feel about this issue and it's the main reason I decided to stop theorycrafting about the idea and just make a post because I can't tell if this makes it a deadend or if it's viable if we tinker with values like cost, hp of the missle, and so on.

How about long range nuclear torpedoes?

That's kind of interesting actually. If t2 torp launcher was repurposed to be an anti-torp unit it would also provide a stationary defense unit that the subs could also then TML if TMD doesn't exist.

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I like the idea of some sort of billy nuke at navy since it can help break up static battleship lines. Also makes nuke subs less of a 'all or nothing' if they have a cheaper option.

I was actually theory crafting a while ago about dumb fire torpedoes for navy, for which, nuke subs could have some sort of billy nuke torp. I was more thinking about giving it both billy and strat nuke, but I'm not sure if it's possible for a unit to have or build two types of weapon at once though. You wouldn't have to change tmd if there was a torp option.

@ComradeStryker brings up atlantis, maybe they could have good torp defence against nuke torps to help uef's slow bs.

@maudlin27 brings up not changing unit role, if you could add rather than replace then I think this issue is avoided.

@MazorNoob he beat me to it.

On a related note to dumb fire torps, harms could actually be made a fun unit if their torps weren't homing. Destros would be particularly good at dodging and such. They'd still be great against navy blobs.

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@veteranashe

I like your idea! Upgradable subs.
Though, wouldn't this make Nuke Subs useless when you first build them?
Their main weapon is to fire cruise missiles... perhaps this should stay with them?
Unless you meant to keep those and instead build Tactical Missiles as a static TML does?


@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

That's kind of interesting actually. If t2 torp launcher was repurposed to be an anti-torp unit it would also provide a stationary defense unit that the subs could also then TML if TMD doesn't exist.

This would also give room to alter the T1 Torp Launcher as it's only used when you're at risk of losing navy... as shown in a different post. Could make them a tad more useful.


~ Stryker

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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@mach said in Nuke Sub Rework:

one of advantages of nuke submarines not mentioned here is the fact that their nukes can be launched from way closer to enemy compared to immobile nuke launcher building (that is usually in middle of your base far from the enemy) and thus arrive way faster, giving enemy little time to react in comparison, and avoid SMD cover (that often nullifies launcher nukes with their "defense shadow") by attacking from different angle, ik this doesn't matter on tiny maps that most people play on but even on 20km it seems valuable to me (yeah yeah sentons mostly)

I gave 3 extremely common 20km maps where this just doesn't matter. Another would be Selkie. No point in making them because battleships hit anything important. Any example of maps beyond sentons where nuke subs are a common occurrence? If a unit requires an extremely specific map scenario to be viable, it needs to be adjusted.

-or being buffed to same power as normal nukes so their cost fits instead and so they can be used vs navy as well and not just bases, one of biggest problems with nuking navy (sometimes the only way to deal with enemy navy once it gets to sufficient numbers and you can't even get in water because of it) is that it can so easily get out of the way as soon as you hear the nuke notification, which only works because of how long it takes a nuke to get to target from a launcher, meanwhile nuke submarines can hit the target a lot faster due to being able to launch it from closer, the problem is that the nuke itself is weaker while costing the same as launcher one, preventing its use against navy, the only advantage it currently has over normal nuke is the mobility of the nuke submarine and more difficulty in scouting them compared to launchers, lack of which combined with all the downsides is what makes them niche, so I suggest making them better at what they were originally for instead of redesigning them

I am extremely opposed to this because it just isn't fun and promotes stagnate gameplay. You cannot stop SMLs on the water. You can stop tactical nukes. If they are too easy to shoot down, remove the TMD on some units or give the missile more HP.

@maudlin27 said in Nuke Sub Rework:

This feels too far from the core concept of the unit and what non-FAF players will be used to when coming to FAF, thus making the hurdle for new players to overcome that bit higher, and I feel such changes should only be by rare exception/where the change will greatly improve overall gameplay, for example with the introduction of T3 MAA (where there was a clear gap in land unit's anti-air options).

This change is no different than any half a dozen adjustments FAF has done to make half the unit roster for factions not a noob trap. You make Janus or Notha in Steam FA you lose. You make titans you lose. You make SAMs you lose. Hell, beetles are totally alien to what they are in base game.

Adding things to make units fill a viable niche in a game is how you make balance better. What is the other solution? Make their nukes OP so it warrants making them even on maps where they don't actually provide any additional utility? Or is it just fine that you basically never make these units outside of Sentons?

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@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

Make their nukes OP so it warrants making them even on maps where they don't actually provide any additional utility?

I don't see why it is nukes being only either overpowered or underpowered, if submarine nukes are currently too weak (which this thread is about I thought) and never used, then buff them until they aren't too weak and do get used, you don't have to make them op so that they have to get used as the only other possible option other than them being currently underpowered

you could buff pillars to 3x current damage per shot and say that is overpowered, or give other option that it gets nerfed to 0.3x current damage per shot and call them underpowered instead, without giving the option in between for some reason, we are currently in 0.3x situation with nuke submarines, just buff them to become balanced, not overpowered

if them being buffed to same damage as normal nukes is something you don't want (despite them costing the same as normal nuke) then what about reducing the costs of building their nukes (only submarine ones, not launcher) so it fits more with damage they do compared to SML that I suggested above that

it comes to what you want the unit to do, it was originally a unit you use to sneak nuke enemy base where they don't expect and from awkward angles and little time to react, which is why I suggested making them better at that rather than redesigning them into a different unit for a different purpose

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@comradestryker said in Nuke Sub Rework:

@veteranashe

I like your idea! Upgradable subs.
Though, wouldn't this make Nuke Subs useless when you first build them?
Their main weapon is to fire cruise missiles... perhaps this should stay with them?
Unless you meant to keep those and instead build Tactical Missiles as a static TML does?


@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

That's kind of interesting actually. If t2 torp launcher was repurposed to be an anti-torp unit it would also provide a stationary defense unit that the subs could also then TML if TMD doesn't exist.

This would also give room to alter the T1 Torp Launcher as it's only used when you're at risk of losing navy... as shown in a different post. Could make them a tad more useful.


~ Stryker

Well the nuke sub would be really cheap as it only has the free tac missle, upgrade it with the tml (probably cheap upgrade) and it still launches the free ones and builds the higher damage ones you can select fire, might do extra range with these. Could even be a burst fire mode.

Build the billy nuke launcher for most maps with the cost in line with ftx suggested.

Could build the strategic nuke launcher and the cost a d build time would be in line with the regular unit. Might be a slight buff since you can get the nuke sub out of the factory and then do the nuke upgrade out if the factory so the factory can build something else.

Could go really nuts with this, have a upgrade for torps, or AA, giving options to those willing to spend the time to upgrade it after it's built.

Note I'm suggesting it can only have 1 upgrade and no upgrade tree, just pick what you want.

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@mach said in Nuke Sub Rework:

@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

it comes to what you want the unit to do, it was originally a unit you use to sneak nuke enemy base where they don't expect and from awkward angles and little time to react, which is why I suggested making them better at that rather than redesigning them into a different unit for a different purpose

You do not spend 22k mass on some cheeky sneak attack. It gets randomly scouted and 800 mass in torp bombers eliminate it. There is a reason it only works on sentons. Beyond that, SMD coverage doesn’t allow for sneak attacks like that to do anything on most decent maps because the bases are spread out enough to require each player to make their own SMD already. Even on sentons you don’t do this, you make 9 of them to overwhelm SMDs by attacking where only a few can actually intercept.

Messing around with the statline is just going to lead to worse gameplay. The reality is that nothing can interact with nukes on the water. You make them cheaper or stronger and late game navy combat simply becomes too risky. You can never be sure how many subs the enemy has. You can never be sure how many are loaded. So why would you risk moving out from the SMD coverage near your beach and getting 60% of your navy nuked? Currently this isn’t a problem because a nuke sub needs to kill 2 battleships to be worth it. Except each nuke does 22k damage so it would take 3 nukes which means you need 6 battleships to die to warrant it.

On the otherhand tactical nukes actually induce proactive gameplay from both sides as there is both methods of defense and tradeoffs on sniping those defenses to take into account.

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I don't mean "cheeky sneak attack" like some cheap drop in enemy mexes but an "unconventional" attack that may cost certain investment but with sufficient payoff from that investment

@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

You can never be sure how many subs the enemy has. You can never be sure how many are loaded.

imo this is what you are supposed to think of them, but in general sense rather than only for navy, the scary kind of weapon that always makes you fear of a nuke suddenly appearing out of nowhere where you least want it (unlike predictable SML you can clearly see in enemy base that gives a different kind of nuke threat), and what I suggest to make them better at

another possible way for this without increasing their damage or reducing the nuke costs is if all nuke submarines are given stealth like the cybran one so they can't just be "scouted randomly", or even given some new "stealth mode" toggle that activates this stealth but in turn prevents them from moving or even building the nuke at all while it is on (or like seraphim sonar, reduces speed significantly), and even adding cloaking to this mode so that only t3 scouts can see them when they have the toggle on but basically incapacitates them while it is active rather than being a mere energy cost, this would allow you to get around with them without them being sniped as easily and keep them as the nuke threat without risk of them randomly getting discovered by units passing nearby for different reasons, increased sonar range can help them avoid running into enemy ships by accident as well

idk I'm just looking at how to give a reason to build them while keeping them true to their purpose without imbalance or messing with stats or changing their role

@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

The reality is that nothing can interact with nukes on the water. You make them cheaper or stronger and late game navy combat simply becomes too risky.

this is why I wouldn't mind if your idea of tactical nuke (or nuke torpedo someone suggested) to use against navy was added as additional missile that nuke submarines can build, as long as the original "real" nuke remains as an option instead of being completely replaced/removed, if no one uses it for that purpose as you say then that means there is no reason to remove it either

the stats I speak of is mostly the very disproportionate cost of the submarine nuke compared to launcher nuke considering their difference in damage and range (70k vs 22k, infinite vs whatever-number-it-is), idc if they remain unable to viably nuke navy with these, but the cost of building them is the same as other "better" nuke for some reason despite clearly way lower damage and range? for example you can use launcher nukes to kill enemy experimentals, while using submarine nuke for that is a waste because it does less than half hp damage of any experimental other than fatboy, but... costs the same to build?

hope I at least gave some other interesting options to consider for changing nuke submarines, it's not like I'm saying this has to be exactly like this, numbers can be whatever it needs to be for balance, just the concept of unit itself is what matters to me

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Years pass, people still propose nuke subs to be reworked into billy nuke launcher...

I did try that in Nomads and both the result and feedback I recieved weren't really good.

Let's be short:

  1. Most naval units have damn TMD with huge range. Billy nuke as it is won't break through single cruiser/battleship/ect defence.
  2. Naval units are spread too much so you wouldnt kill many units pre missile meaning its inefficient against t1-t2 things.
  3. T3 units are too tanky. Billy nuke would be inefficient against Battleships even if it somehow hits them.
  4. Stacking Billy nuke with cruiser/torrent missile valley leaves little to no chance to defend the land firebase.
  5. Single Loyalist would kill your nuke sub and everything nearby because FAF can't copy EQ features since 2016.

Current nuke subs are fine as they are for FFA games. Much easier to hide, much harder to understand who launched it. In most cases it is used for cybran because stealth is too cool, but sometimes could be used by other factions. This IS what should be done for all factions.

IMO if nuke subs needed a billy, they should get it instead of their TML weapon (most of the time this TML is useless anyway), not instead of actual nuke.

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@ftxcommando said in Nuke Sub Rework:

How about long range nuclear torpedoes?

That's kind of interesting actually. If t2 torp launcher was repurposed to be an anti-torp unit it would also provide a stationary defense unit that the subs could also then TML if TMD doesn't exist.

Reduce damage radius and this sounds interesting: kind of an OC underwater (command-fire and high damage), but requiring pre-build like TML (thus expensive and allowing rapid launch of around four, with long reload time).

If it did say 15k damage, that would be just over 3 vs a battleship (actually 3 for cybran), 2 vs a BC and 1 vs a destro (with extreme overkill).

Let it pass through shields but require something else (like T1 sub spam) to deal with torp defence. Make these torps cost, maybe 1k mass a piece? IDK.

Then cut the nuke sub cost and keep its TMLs to give it extra utility, but still specialised as a capital ship / shipyard sniper.