Talk:Craft Armaments

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General Mechanics Discussion

see also Air Combat Mechanics

I'm guessing from looking at the weapon accuracys and their ranges that craft weapon fire probably is calculated similarly to Battlescape combat, i.e. you can hit or not based on the accuracy, then comes in the size and range which might get you an incidental hit anyway. Otherwise the cannon would be even more pointless than it already is with a 10% accuracy - but close up this probably translates to something half reasonable. Equally the Stingray and Avalanche might turn out to have similar hit rates when at their respective maximum ranges are factored in. Of course the Plasma Beam owns everything else in almost every category so its fairly moot. --Sfnhltb 09:49, 7 March 2007 (PST)

The rate of fire of the Cannon might disguise its rate of misses, but your observation about Stingrays vs. Avalanches is intriguing.--Ethereal Cereal 14:36, 7 March 2007 (PST)
Well another thing that might possible - people think that the rate of fire increases as you close in, although the reload rate is given as a fixed number. Is it possible its just hits happen more often as you close in, so the combat completes faster but everything is actually firing at the same speed? (someone might have tested in depth with a stopwatch or something to know the answer, cant really comment solidly either way myself, but it seems a possibility at least) --Sfnhltb 15:17, 7 March 2007 (PST)
Try this. Get some Avengers and use either laser cannons or stingrays. Find some trouble and save the game. Launch the attack and set the two ships to their respective extreme aggression settings. Notice which one of the two gets fired on the most often or which one uses up its ammo before the other. It might take a few tries. You should be able to see a clear difference between the two ships, but a slow-down utility or - with an emulator - slowing down the emulation may help. My guess is that the exchange of attacks between the UFO and interceptor are actually happening at the same rate. However the time compression differs from ship to ship depending on how close they are to the UFO. -NKF
According to the data at the following thread, ( ) the accuracies listed here and in the UFOpaedia are incorrect. It seems likely that he's correct, as the accuracy rating for each weapon is identical to the damage rating of each weapon. If someone could read the code of the game and find the actual accuracy to confirm/deny this, it'd be appreciated. Also, I read somewhere; (possibly here, although I can't relocate the data) that the ranges given for the Craft Armaments were too low by a factor of 8. This matches what I have seen in game(the plasma beam cautious attack range is 416, for example, and 52*8 is 416) with all 6 craft weapons. Shouldn't this be listed? -27 May, 2007, Arrow Quivershaft,
I did some tests earlier today, and measuring based on the range number displayed in the Interception window, the weapons have maximum ranges as follows- Avalanche: 480 Stingray: 240 Cannon: 80 Fusion Ball: 520 Plasma Beam: 416 Laser Cannon: 280
The default standoff range is 560 units of range. This allows us to put into perspective the ranges given on the alien craft, which are in the same units of measurement: Small Scout: 0 Medium Scout: 120 Large Scout: 272 Harvester: 176 Abductor: 160 Terror Ship: 336 Supply Ship: 288 Battleship: 520
This may not change anything, but I find it more useful to compare in the actual units the game displays to you, rather than the Kilometers of range it doesn't give you. -27 May, 2007, Arrow Quivershaft
So it seems that you've found that 1 game km = 8 distance units. Makes sense. What's caught my interst are those unknowns in Zombie's weapon tables.
By the way, for your convenience if you don't already use it: Enter three tildes (~~~) to insert your handle. It also turns it into a wikilink to your personal talk page. Enter four tildes (~~~~) to do the same and append the current timestamp. Saves having to type it out each time! I'll end this with an example of entering four tildes: NKF 00:02, 29 May 2007 (PDT)
It seems to hold that 8 distance units = 1 km, except for the laser cannon, which is an enigma in regards to range, since it should instead be 168 instead of 280; in other words, it should be outclassed by the Stingray in regards to range. 280 / 8 = 35. Of course, given that they totally screwed up the accuracy ratings, positing that they mistyped the Laser Cannon range isn't a huge leap.
Interestingly enough, actually, it appears that the accuracy and range of the Laser Cannon are the same number, based on this data. Perhaps that's where the error comes from; I will edit this into the Laser Cannon entry.Arrow Quivershaft 00:49, 29 May 2007 (PDT)
Probably AQ was using an XComUtil patched version of the game, which has the Laser Cannon range increased to 35(km). Spike 15:19, 2 July 2009 (EDT)

Weapon Damage Ranges

I was just scratching my head thinking about compiling a min/max-rounds-to-hit table to scuttle a Battleship, and suddenly remembered that like the Battlescape, weapon damage for air-to-air combat is variable.

Thought there would be mention of it on this page, but can't spot it. On further research it's on the firepower table sub-page. I'd like to work it into this page but before that I'd like to clarify if the range is meant to be 50% to 100% or 50% to 150%? I had a feeling it was the latter - like the alien weapons, but I'd better confirm it just to be sure. -NKF 04:56, 1 April 2009 (EDT)

Preliminary tests seem to indicate it is 50% to 100% ... I armed an Avenger with 1 Fusion Ball Launcher, and waited for an Abductor to spawn, then saved and Intercepted. Initial results seem to indicate that FBL will never do enough in 1 hit to crash an Abductor... which means that it's max damage is less than 250. ... 150% damage = 345 damage in 1 hit... that would be impressive...
I also discovered some funky results... seems like Xcom is one of those games that "stores the next random number in memory". Or so my results from using 1 FBL on a Medium Scout would show. Jasonred 14:29, 1 April 2009 (EDT)

Revised Fire Rates

I propose to put a note on the article that the fire rates shown (from UFOPaedia) are probably wrong. I might even change them to the observed actual values. I could add an extra column with the actual values, but that might be confusing.

Actual observed rates of fire:

Weapon:         Fire Interval in Game Seconds
Cannon                   2 /  2 /  2
Laser Cannon            12 / 12 / 12
Plasma Cannon           12 / 12 / 12
Stingray                16 / 24 / 32
Avalanche               24 / 36 / 48
Fusion Ball             16 / 24 / 32

Spike 17:30, 9 February 2010 (EST)

OK I'm going to take the plunge and change the main page. It's a wiki after all. Spike 16:45, 11 February 2010 (EST)

Fusion Balls better than Plasma Beams?

In favour of the much maligned FBL, based on revised firing rates (see above) and other data, a Plasma Beam armed aircraft must endure 6x the exposure to enemy fire before it inflicts more damage than a Fusion Ball armed aircraft.

Take the case of a single attacking aircraft. A Plasma Beam-armed aircraft requires 26gs to close range from 65km to 52km, plus an average 108gs to fire 7 times (6 x 12 x 1.5), at which point it exceeds the average damage of a (fully expended) Fusion Ball Launcher. Total 134gs. During this time a Battleship (firing on average every 36gs) will get an average of about 5 shots off (1 + 134/36).

The Fusion Ball Launcher aircraft is fully expended in an average of 24gs in Aggressive mode. The Battleship will on average only get one shot off, its first shot. The FBL aircraft is disengaging before the Plasma Beam aircraft has even come into firing range. With 3 or 4 aircraft firing, the Battleship is crashing and burning before it gets a second shot. (All of this assumes Beginner difficulty level)

Arguably this means that using FBL armed aircraft is a much more sustainable strategy against Battleships, since the XCom fleet will suffer 5x - 6x less damage per sortie. It requires being able to put at least 3 aircraft (12 FB) and preferably 4 aircraft (16 FB) into the air. But then it's always best to use 4 aircraft when engaging Battleships, so as to minimise XCom fleet damage and losses.

The much higher ammo costs of the FBL should be considered against the cost of replacing aircraft, and even more importantly, lost interception coverage during aircraft repair time.

Of course this will be moot to Commanders who prefer to let Battleships land and engage them on the ground. :)

Spike 19:05, 9 February 2010 (EST)

If only because it has a greater range than the plasma beam, the Battleship is definitely one of the few worthy FBL candidates, as you want it shot down fast. The others are the small and medium scout - only because it's overkill and easily vapourizes them.
The FBL has always had the edge over the amount of potential damage it can deal in a short amount of time, but it's the overall convenience offered by the more frugal Plasma Beam that puts it in better favour, even if you do have to expose the ship to more damage vs. a Battleship.
The limited ammunition of the FBL and the chance that each shot will miss makes it a much more expensive gamble than the plasma beam. But that's why the plasma beam/FBL combo is always a good one. It also helps mitigate the interceptor last-shot-fired idiosyncrasy where they pull out of range the moment the last round is fired, dropping the missile out of its working range.
One other thing to consider is that the importance of the loss of air time for damaged interceptors will change depending on the number and distribution of interceptor aircraft you have in your employ. -NKF 00:06, 11 February 2010 (EST)
You still have an economic cost when aircraft are lost or damaged. Either you pay ahead of time by buying and maintaining an aircraft fleet with excess capacity, more than you need, or you pay after the event by replacing aircraft, and by coverage gaps, leading to missed opportunities and avoidable enemy successes. Either way, losing aircraft costs you.
'Chance of missing...'? But don't FBL's have 100% hit probability? And (even without using Seb76's fix for last-shot-miss) you can avoid missing the last shot by staying in Aggressive when fighting a Battleship. You might as well, since there is no standoff advantage to be lost.
The economics are also interesting. Taking a Battleship down with FBLs has a direct cost of $640,000 in ammunition (1600 damage to down, vs $400/(dmg point), see here and here). Of course with 'frugal' Plasma Beams, each UFO splash costs nothing (once the aircraft and weapon are paid for). $640K is a very large amount to spend on splashing a UFO, but it's only the same amount as replacing a single lost Interceptor and much less than the cost of losing any advanced aircraft, or even losing use of a damaged advance aircraft for part of a month. How many Commanders would throw away an Interceptor in order to bring down a Battleship, without much of a second thought? If FBLs could avoid that, using them pays for itself in cash terms.
My thinking about this was prompted by discussion of XComUtil Craft Armaments economics. With 'new laser weapons', producing Plasma Beams becomes extremely expensive, and FBLs might actually be a cheaper or easier alternative at earlier stages of the game. Which is all interesting, because it's good to create reasons to use something other than the old formula of Plasma Beams all round. Spike 17:00, 11 February 2010 (EST)
You're not taking into account the opportunity cost: The workshops which make the FBL ammo would have produced laser cannons or something profitable/useful instead if FBL weren't there. Or a commander could do with less engineers and thus expenses without FBLs. Also, wouldn't using Aggressive mode to avoid last-shot bug up the damage to XCom craft? Lastly, I think X-COM inventory management is a bit of a problem for FBLs, especially with the "unarmed craft doesn't rearm when ammo is transferred to base" issue in X-COM1. Cesium 01:00, 12 February 2010 (EST)
Ah, the opportunity costs! Good question. I'm very interested in those, but have still not really done a proper quantitative analysis across the board. With opportunity costs we need to be very careful to define the scenarios and what we are trying to measure. So to be clear, we're comparing FBL strategy vs Plasma Beam strategy against Battleships, and the argument is that, if there are any benefits from the FBL strategy in terms of reduced aircraft losses/outages, or avoiding overcapacity in the aircraft fleet (including hangars), then those benefits are outweighed by the opportunity costs of manufacturing the FBL ammo, vs alternative uses for the same manufacturing capacity. And we look at 2 cases - normal UFO, and XComUtil with the 'new laser weapons' option making Plasma Beams more expensive.
As a baseline first let's look in more detail at the direct cost situation. The total cost (including labour, materials and opportunity cost of Elerium & Alloys) for a Plasma Beam is about $320,250. For an FBL it's about $256,410. This gives a difference of $63,840. This is not even enough money to load the FBL with one Fusion Ball. So clearly we want to compare the cost of the ammo with the benefit of reduced aircraft damage and losses. As per above, downing a Battleship with FBL costs you $640K in direct ammo costs. Right there that's enough to build 2 Plasma Beams, which you can then run for free - a convincing argument. Let's factor in the opportunity cost. (I'm going to use my data for TFTD and hope it's the same for UFO-EU equivalents)
The base cost of Engineers/Technicians works out to $36/hr, all in. Profitability per hr for Laser/Gauss Cannon is $97, so the opportunity cost of not producing Laser/Gauss Cannon is $61 per Engineer-hr. The $640K of FBL ammo to down the Battleship (9.2 rounds average) takes 3710 Engineer-hrs to make, so that's an additional opportunity cost of $226,300 - a whacking total of $886K to bring down each Battleship, including direct costs and opportunity costs of the FBL ammo.
Let's take a look at the stronger case, when we are using 'new laser weapons'. The XCU Plasma Beam is more expensive in total manufacturing costs, at around $698,250. The XCU FBL is the same cost (the observation that sparked this discussion in the XComUtil page). So each FBL is $441840 cheaper than a PB. This means you can manufacture an FBL and more than 3 full reloads for the same price as a PB. So the opportunity cost argument doesn't cut in until you have killed about 3-4 Battleships. Or rather, until that point, it cuts the other way - you have the opportunity cost of manufacturing PBs. And the opportunity cost is less, because the most profitable manufactured item is no longer the Laser/Gauss Cannon at $97/hr but the FBL itself at $81.5/hr, so your opportunity cost of manufacture is down to $45.5 per Engineer-hr, only $168K of opportunity cost for enough FBL ammo to bring down a Battleship ($808K total). Now, when you factor in the opportunity costs of building the PB, at a massive 5000 hrs, that adds $227,500 to the bill for each Plasma Beam. Or to put it another way, in terms of Engineer hours, you can build an FBL and nearly 4 full reloads of ammo, for the same effort (and opportunity cost) as a PB.
Having looked at the debit (cost) side, we now need to look at the credit (benefit) side.
As noted above, a flight of 3 or 4 FBL-armed aircraft should be able to bring down a Battleship in 24gs (2 volleys each) while enduring only 1 or maybe 2 shots total from the Battleship. With only moderate luck 4 craft could bring the Battleship down on the first volley (8 FBs vs an expected 9 FBs to splash the UFO). Conversely a flight of 4 PB-armed aircraft needs to get 2 volleys off each (18gs), after closing range (26gs), for a total of 44gs fire exposure to the Battleship, receiving slightly more than 2 total hits on average. So actually, with a 4-aircraft flight, there is not much difference in the damage received, only about 1 hit on average. My initial calculations were only for 1 aircraft in the intercepting flight, which is not that realistic!
So what is the cost of a hit? A single Battleship hit will wipe out an Interceptor, and in fact in a sense you get off lightly, since the damage will 'overkill' the Interceptor. That's an immediate loss of $600K to replace the Interceptor, plus the weapons on board. For PBs this would be another $640K for a total $1.24M. For XCU PBs the total loss is $2M. For FBLs, ignoring the ammo since you are going to fire that anyway, the total loss is around $1.1M. Against advanced aircraft, the 148 strength UFO weapon will inflict an average of 111 damage, which means 111 hrs of downtime per shot. How much is that 4.5 days of downtime worth? Let's say you had a "pool" Interceptor that you could ferry in, and a spare hangar somewhere to hold this reserve Interceptor. 4.5/30 of a month's rental and hanger fees is around $100K, not much. But what if it's an advanced aircraft you need to replace it with? It's hard to figure a per-month cost for manufactured aircraft as it depends on their service life. But the more advanced the aircraft is, the more expensive it is to have 111 hrs downtime. As a worst case, let's take the full manufacturing cost as a monthly "rental". On this basis, downtime from a Battleship hit costs $250K for a Firestorm, $317K for a Lightning, $525K for an Avenger. But even these worst case costs for the 'extra' Battleship hit that is mitigated by the FBLs, are significantly lower than the direct and opportunity costs of the FBL ammo to kill the Battleship, at $886K.
In conclusion then, the FBL argument probably only holds if you are flying Interceptors against the Battleship. In that case, I believe the cost argument holds and you should use FBLs rather than PBs. As a short-medium term strategy (for 3-4 Battleship engagements), it also makes sense on economic grounds when using the XCU 'new laser weapons' option, due to PBs being much more expensive than FBLs, and because the FBL technology path is the "golden goose". Spike 20:32, 12 February 2010 (EST)
Well, I'm not sure the cost for downtime can be calculated that way. Dividing advanced crafts downtime by a month seems arbitrary (why not a week or a year?). You could divide it by the time it takes to manufacture another one, but I think this isn't the right way to calculate downtime costs since repairs cost nothing - what we care about is lost UFO coverage. That's probably unquantifiable - but I suspect the odds run against FBLs in a normal game.
Amortisation time for any capital item in XCOM is arbitrary but 1 month seemed a reasonable worse-case scenario. For the useful life of advanced aircraft to be only a month, UFOs would need to be much more dangerous than they are (an interesting idea). And since the economics didn't favour the FBL strategy for manufactured aircraft even in that worst case, I concluded that it only works for Interceptors, pretty much regardless of whether you are using the XCU increased Plasma Beam costs or not. Obviously FBLs are relatively much more advantageous for Interceptors, if the Plasma Beam costs are increased.
You are quite right that the biggest opportunity cost of all is missed UFO intercepts. Missed intercepts cost a commander massive amounts of cash, technology, victory points, and strategic and political disadvantage. (The lost cash and technology, typically in the $millions, can be quantified from the tables in this wiki showing the average total haul from each UFO mission type, but that's only part of it.) I sort of take this for granted, and it should be the driver of all strategies. "Out of the question", as NKF says below. Since I take this for granted, I assume you never allow coverage gaps, so I calculate the opportunity cost of aircraft loss/damage as the cost of preventing the coverage gap - by operating additional aircraft to ensure there is no coverage gap. Spike 06:16, 14 February 2010 (EST)
I think though that NKF's idea for mixed Plasma/FBL crafts is better than a pure FBL solution in practice - since such a ship is much more useful against non-battleships while keeping a bit more punch vs a battleship. Can you run the numbers for that? Cesium 21:23, 12 February 2010 (EST)
It is a pretty good idea since for encountering anything less than a Battleship you only need one plasma beam since you have stand off advantage, you can take your time killing the UFO. So 2 Plasma Beams is a waste, and as you say, the FBL gives extra punch in a Battleship fight to help kill it more quickly. Basically what I've discovered from running the numbers on the FBL is that the advantage dwindles as your intercept flight gets bigger, and for a 4-flight intercept the advantage is negligible unless you are using lowly Interceptors. Conversely, this means that using the FBL strategy might give you the option of maintaining a lower density of aircraft per geographic area. 3 FBL aircraft (2 volleys of 6 FBs) gives a good confidence of killing a Battleship. With your proposed buff to FBLs, even a flight of 2 dual-FBL aircraft would have a reasonable chance to kill a Battleship. Unless they were Interceptors. A variant on this is to have 2 aircraft roles, anti-Battleship vs all other intercepts. For "all other" you just need a weak aircraft (Interceptor etc) with a single Plasma Beam. Very cheap. For anti-Battleship role you either have dual FBLs or the FBL/PB combo. Or the traditional dual PBs. Spike 06:16, 14 February 2010 (EST)
Thinking about it, by the time you can access the FBLs, your money and elerium problems really should be on the decline (starting with the Heavy Plasma overstock). Before long the costs of production and lost engineering time really is a non-issue. You mainly have to remember to keep building the ammo and that's that.
I might be mixing it up with the last shot missing problem. Nevertheless, isn't there a small amount of randomness to the missile's to-hit each time it is fired? If it's a guaranteed hit every time, then that does give it quite an edge.
To be honest I am not sure we know. My working assumption is that there are no modifiers to the stated hit probability, so 100% really is 100%. From other tests I have done, it does look like the UFOs never miss. Spike 06:16, 14 February 2010 (EST)
As for the aircraft - losing aircraft is definitely an unwanted outcome, thus that is out of the question. However, regarding employing more ships to cover downtime of damaged aircraft, I didn't really mean to employ more aircraft than is reasonably necessary. Just to have enough, such as one interceptor, at reasonably spaced out bases. Each base's effective combat range should have enough of an overlap that their interceptors can jump in to fill in while the damaged battleship-destroyer is being fixed. Also, using damage-minimizing strategies (multi-ships and LOTS of FBLs), you shouldn't have to worry about taking on so much damage that you can't afford some rest between battleships.
One other thought: There's also the amount of UFOs each weapon can tackle in a single flight to consider. -NKF 02:02, 12 February 2010 (EST)
This is a strong argument in favour of PBs for the "anything except Battleships" role as discussed above. You can keep a PB-armed aircraft in the air a long time - Interceptors work particularly well due to their Patrol fuel efficiency - without incurring the hefty time-overhead of the re-arm / re-fuel cycle. FBL don't do too well on this score, so again they are really only appropriate for hard targets like the Battleship. Spike 06:16, 14 February 2010 (EST)

I looked again at the numbers for Superhuman, given that the numbers above are all based on Beginner and quite a lot of people, maybe most, play on Superhuman these days. On Superhuman the Battleship rate of fire is faster, 16gs nominal instead of 24gs nominal, so that means 16-32gs per shot, average 24gs, instead of 24-48gs per shot, average 36gs.

With the faster rate of fire, things get hotter for our flight of 4 PB-armed craft during their 2 volleys - average 44gs exposure (min 38gs, max 50gs) to the Battleship (26gs run-in to target under fire, plus average 18gs / min 12gs / max 24gs to fire). On Beginner the Battleship would get 1-3 shots, typically 2, with a only a slim chance of 1 or 3 shots. The Superhuman Battleship will get 2-4 shots, typically 3, average of 2.83, again with the high and low values unlikely.

In fact in any case, Beginner or Superhuman, the Plasma Beam attack is nearly 50% likely to need 3 volleys, since the average damage of 16 PB attacks is only 1680. This is especially true if the craft are Interceptors, as 1 will very likely be dead before the 2nd volley is fired, making the need for 3 volleys a better than even chance.

The exposure time for 3 volleys is 62gs, min 50gs, max 74gs, including run-in time. In this time the Beginner Battleship will fire 2 - 4 times, with 3 typical and 2 or 4 very unlikely. The Superhuman Battleship will get 2 - 5 shots, with the average being about 3.6.

So what are the implications of this 3-volley, Superhuman scenario? If we look at Interceptors, losing 3 or even 4 aircraft out of a 4-aircraft flight is a disaster, a Pyrrhic victory at best. 4 PB-armed Interceptors would cost $5M to replace. Or, with advanced aircraft, you are looking at between 2 and 4 aircraft out of action for an average of 111 hrs each. The average total hours of advanced aircraft downtime is close to 400 aircraft-hours. There is even the possibility of losing a Firestorm (2 strong or 3 average hits to the same aircraft), or even a Lightning (3 strong or 4 average hits to the same aircraft - admittedly unlikely).

If we remember that in the 4 FBL scenario, only one aircraft is hit, once, the use of FBLs to take down Battleships seems highly advisable when playing on Superhuman, even with advanced aircraft.

Yes I will get around to analyzing the FBL plus Plasma Beam combination. Due to the severe limitations on re-arming in response to a threat, this is probably a more practical routine loadout. However quite often it is possible to have advanced warning of Battleship attacks by watching UFO mission patterns. In that scenario, moving at least some aircraft over to dual FBLs would be possible and advisable.

Spike 19:22, 14 February 2010 (EST)

Well I set up a scenario and ran some tests and I am 10 for 10 taking out a Superhuman Battleship with 4 FBL-armed Interceptors and taking NO losses (though typically 1-2 aircraft damaged). Important caveat though - you have to be mighty fast with the mouse to get all those Interceptors onto Aggressive at the same time. I discounted the tests when I mis-clicked or was just plain slow on the buttons. A single misclick was usually enough to get all my Interceptors killed. Yes I know that's cheating and it invalidates the test. :) But I am convinced that FBLs is the way to go for Interceptors at least, and maybe for Avengers. However badly the Interceptors got hit, it would've been much worse if they were only packing Plasma Beams. One really interesting phenomenon I think I saw (it's hard to tell when things happen so fast) was Interceptors breaking off after expending their ammunition. This was very helpful because the first to engage tend to be the most damaged, so if they break off first they are more likely to survive. They thus split the UFOs fire in a way that is least efficient for the UFO. Probably I should retest this in an emulator (eg DosBox) with maximum slowdown, so I can see what's happening better, and to eliminate the randomness about clicking the mouse fast and accuractely enough. Spike 20:28, 15 February 2010 (EST)

Should we use the actual values rather than scaling to Cannon?

Currently, the "reload time" values are scaled to the Cannon being an assumed 2 game seconds. However, this creates problems when comparing to TFTD (as the actual reload times for TFTD are identical, but they're scaled to "3 game seconds" for the Gas Cannon). Moreover, the UFO firing intervals are listed straight from the executable. I'd like to change the craft weapon reload times to their actual values, to facilitate these kind of comparisons (and there's not a huge amount of justification for scaling to the Cannon). Magic9mushroom (talk) 13:41, 15 July 2018 (CEST)

When in doubt, go with the in-game data. We didn't have the sort of information we have access to now, so my guess is that they were as good as any a point of reference to measure the other weapons by at the time. NKF (talk) 07:24, 16 July 2018 (CEST)