I suggested to fix the intel problem by making them more difficult to detect, for example via trigger ability that gives them stealth (or even cloak) but prevents them from moving or attacking or even building a nuke while it is on, making them the threat they are supposed to be without the risk of accidentally discovering one by a random scout patrol and without them being an invisible win button either while maintaining the nuke submarine concept of the unit
This might sound good on paper, but I don't think it's realistically viable - even if you had an ability that went full cloak+stealth, this requires you to be actively monitoring your sub 24/7. And even if you did, how could you ever predict a Spy Plane/Torp bomber flying up above? Sounds cool, but it is either too much work, or would be op if somehow automated.
maybe if range is a problem on even medium maps, increase their range as well
The problem is, where do you draw the line? Their current range is quite good, given they are near the enemy coast. But if you make it very large, then on many maps you wouldn't even have to leave your dock, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of the unit. And how they are often used - build them, start a nuke, wait for it to be finished, move it in closer for the nuke - because they are so expensive it's not worth risking a random T2 sub or a few torp bombers stumbling upon it. And even if you do argue 'we could make it cheaper' (which you do), it still doesn't change the fact that you are effectively parading your SML around the map without much protection (if they are supposed to be stealthy) - I'm pretty sure in 99% of cases, you wouldn't build an SML in an unprotected position just to get an 'odd angle' on the enemy.
most importantly, if the nuke on submarines costed less (or should I say more proportional to its damage compared with sml) it could be used to wipe out enemy outlying firebases and mex clusters that don't have smd without it being a net loss in mass for the attacker which is the main reason no one uses them for it (need minimum of 15k or whatever damage in mass just to break even), this would be giving different uses to these 2 different levels of nukes, currently the only thing that has a similar purpose to this (mini nuking smaller base) is a billy nuke, and that gets stopped easily by tmd or even shield generators due to it being a tactical missile and extremely low damage and radius respectively (so just adding to/changing billy nukes to nuke submarines isn't a fix either)
total list of possible buffs (so far) that don't redesign them into something completely different:
- increase submarine nuke range
- increase submarine nuke speed (of nuke missile itself)
- increase submarine nuke damage / reduce submarine nuke cost (currently same cost as sml nuke while having less range and <1/3rd damage), I suggest reducing cost instead of increasing damage for reasons I explained above (tldr: mass effective nukes against smaller bases for 2 tiers of nukes with different uses)
- make nuke submarines more difficult to detect underwater at some downside (ex. immobile/completely "stunned" during stealth)
As previously addressed, giving it range will boil down to two problems: not enough range, so you are still forced to park it on the enemy shoreline, or so much you never even have to get close.
Unit speed won't help. And people are maybe forgetting, but I'd just like to remind that only the Cybran Nuke Sub has stealth - others are exposed by sonar, and T3 sonar, which is relatively cheap and I'd argue a must in a naval composition, outranges it (god forbid you move it more central to a water zone).
Buffing the missile speed won't change much, except in the scenario where you are nuking navy - but you are against that, so let's presume that moot.
Changing the price/strength might be a good idea, but keep in mind SML are as efficient as they are because they serve only one role - to nuke. On the other hand, not only do nuke subs have the TML capability, they also come with a handy T3 naval factory that allows you to diverge your initial plans. Given that, I'd argue you should never approach the efficiency of a SML with a nuke sub. Currently, you don't but if you ever do, I could see players building T3 naval yards in random pond near their base to get a cheaper nuke...
if you say they are useless for any "nuke purposes" in most situations, then that is what has to be fixed, their nuking capabilities/efficiencies, not the unit redesigned into something else that primarily exists for non-nuke missile use, at that point you deleted the original unit and put something else in its place, now that is hogwash
so yes I suggested to make them better at being nuke submarines, what you (and many others) are suggesting is to forget the nuke part of them because it currently doesn't work well (and instead of fixing that you choose to double down on it?) and turn them into some kinds of tactical missile ships that I don't agree this unit is about and like someone else mentioned, neither will be the newcomers that already know it as nuke submarine from non-faf versions or many other players that don't pay attention to balance forums
if such a unit is needed then maybe it should be created as a new one instead or added to different useless existing one (aircraft carriers maybe, at least missile barrage from them would make sense especially since they could have unique mercy-like aircraft they could be the only ones to build, aka homing anti ship missile, to barrage enemy fleet with from distance (or even a medium range missile that lands into water and becomes a torpedo, to deal with certain annoying underwater units like HARMS that otherwise need exploits to deal with, the possibilities are endless), instead of being giant defenseless radars they currently are)
The whole problem is the main reason nuke subs are currently pretty obsolete is there already is a better unit filling that niche - the SML. There really is no need to have another unit that does the same thing, but worse. Also, give this a thought: you are giving a game-ending capability to a somewhat cheap T3 unit. All other game-enders are super-high cost static emplacements, or if mobile, are mounted on experimentals. Like the Tempest or Scathis. Tempest is effectively a T3 Static arty on a boat. No other T3 unit (other than the nuke-capable ones) has the game-ender capability. They are either base buildings or experimentals.
The issue of 'what will new players do omg' is a non-issue, given how much is already different compared to the original SupCom and FA.
and with nuke submarines being "useless unless you already won navy", imo they are not supposed to be something you build to win navy by attacking navy with them directly like just another battleship, just like you don't build strats to take out enemy asf with, you build them to attack ground, which may very well win you air indirectly or the game itself, you do the same with nuke submarines to take out enemy bases, not their navy, because not every unit needs to be a direct combat unit against its own layer, some exist to push the advantage you have, to outside of the layer
The problem with this analogy is you are comparing 2 air units that have different targets - air and ground, to 2 naval units that have same targets - ground. Sure, not every unit has to be, that's why we have MMLs, MAA, and so on. But nuke subs are a bad example of this concept, because they are, in fact, designed to strike at (usually) naval targets. Because of their high power (nuke), they have to be slow (time-wise to get a nuke ready). This means that, in any realistic situation, even if you are planning to use a nuke sub to take down a base, that base more than likely already has a SMD. Which means you are in the end forced to use it - against enemy's navy. This is even more evident from the fact that, the moment you launch a nuke from a nuke sub, and the nuke gets detected, players will know there's a nuke sub, and unless they lost navy, your sub is dead - takes like what, 10-12 torps to take it down in one wave, half that if the sub is not surrounded by other naval forces - which you are heavily implying would be the solution for them, to go 'stealthily on their own'.
At the end of the day, what we need is a unit that fills a particular role, and Nuke subs do not do that. And if you make them as good as SMLs, then SMLs become obsolete on naval maps, which is just shifting the problem. What is a better solution IMO, is to have the unit serve a purpose other units don't.
P.S.: there is no "nuke sub" - that's just a nickname people give it because they launch 'nukes'. Their name is 'Strategic missile submarine' - and while again this is usually abbreviated to 'nuke', a strategic missile doesn't need to mean 'nuke' - it can mean it, sure, but it can also mean a missile of strategic scale. I'd take the liberty of generalizing 'tactical' scale as one that focuses on taking out one particular target, while 'strategic' scale is a weapon capable of wiping out an entire area or in general turn the tide on its own. Like in general, I'd categorize weapons in three categories - operational, tactical and strategic. Most units fall under the 'operational' scale, some fall under tactical (say mobile arty, or T3 battleships, and the obvious TMLs, I'd even put Novax under this category). And then some are strategic - most experimentals, T3 Static Arty and Nuke launchers. With the example I gave (and not saying that is THE way to go about it), it still stays a strategic weapon - it just doesn't do a nuke.