Over the past years the balance teams (past and present) have always favored increasing the cost and slowing the load speed to try and improve the balance when addressing the relative value of nukes.
In this post I will present the nature of the imbalances and explain how adjusting different values can improve the balance.
- The Range on SMLs is extremely high while the range on SMDs is relatively low. This leads to the relative value of SMLs scaling with map size and target dispersion on the map.
- The Damage Radius (Inner and outer rings) is counter intuitive versus how nukes work in reality. In FAF, nukes have a large inner ring and smaller outer ring. The Inner ring doing enough damage to kill almost anything in the game while the outer ring deals very little damage to a smaller periphery around the inner ring. In reality the explosive damage by a nuke centers a high amount of damage on a smaller inner ring while the outer ring is much wider where the blast wave and radiation kills off everything living but does no explosive blast damage.
Consequently the damage dealt by nukes is quite extensive in FAF due to the high damage radius and nukes can deal damage many fold their own cost when targeting almost any commonly observed base structures in the game. The return on investment of a landing nuke would shrink drastically with a reduced inner ring.
- The cost of SMLs and SMDs, nuclear and counter-nuke defence missiles can only be a fixed ratio, it cannot scale up or down with map size and target dispersion.
- Nukes can be used offensively and defensively to attack bases, or counter unit pushes. SMDs are only 1 trick ponies.
The short comings of balance team's current approach:
Increasing the cost of SMLs and load times of nukes does not address issues 1&3. It addresses to some extent issues 2&4.
Option 1: Reducing the inner circle size to be 1) effective vs select structure (i.e. T3 Arty, game enders, highly clustered economy buildings), 2) be balanced vs select mid range value targets (i.e. core mexes at start position, smaller air grids, spaced out massfab-pgen clusters) 3) ineffective vs other lower value structures and units on the move due to less chance to hit them. Inner ring damage could be lessened to 50,000, outer ring to 1000 (that allows low HP buildings and most T1&T2 units to die. This addresses points 2,3&4 but fails on point 1.
Option 2: Reducing range brings Nuke Subs and Nukes on battleships into relevancy on bigger navy focused maps but this does not work for big land only maps where SMLs would need to be placed closer to the enemy base. That would definitely swing the balance towards the favor of SMDs but would still be situationally dependent. It would address issues 1&3 but not 2&4.
A range of 700-725 would appear to be approximately the correct range looking at some maps but that could vary depending on map design and probably those short coming make this option inferior to option 1.
Option 1 seems to be the best. It could be combined with Option 2 but it would need some more elaboration and calculations to determine the correct values and some gameplay to validate the expected improvements. Past costs increases of SML and nuclear missiles would also have to be scaled back to a more balanced ratio.