My main reasons why I think increasing the number of bouts is beneficial
- More time for combat to evolve (e.g. there are one or two bouts after enemy fighters have been shot down and your)
- Related to that it means more design space for our weapon systems
- It is anti-chaff in two ways: it reduces shot overkill and damage overkill.
How to do this? By keeping weapon damage the same and increasing structure by a third to accomodate for one being hit once more in the fourth bout. If it is better to understand you can also think about the different way round: keep current ship structure and lower damage per bout to 3/4.
I put up a PR#2908 in which I add scaling factor rules for ship damage and ship structure so also the players can decide what exact values to use. Some implementation details follow from this. As suggested by others, planetary defense is mostly for inflicting damage so it scales according to ship weapons. Planetary shields are mostly working like structure so it scales according to structure. There are some effects which always ensure there is a minimum 1 point of e.g. shield, this does not need to scale. In general turn-oriented values (e.g. armour parts) scale like structure, bout-oriented values like ship shields scale with ship weapon damage. Fighters scale almost like ship damage but not quite (easier to down, and not shooting the first bout), so there is a specific rule for fighter damage as well.
Some details of what happens if you increase the number of bouts from three to four and scale the structure of the ships up by 4/3 (so a 60 structure ship will have 80 structure instead in that game).
- Anti-chaff/Reduces shot overkill. Your spinal cannon is shooting four times, so if you shoot chaff in the first bout you only wasted a fourth of your damage (1/4) instead of a third (1/3). As structure is comparatively "higher" per bout, damage is more evenly distributed and dead enemies get faster removed, reducing shot overkill.
- Anti-chaff/Reduces damage overkill. Your spinal cannon is shooting four times, so if you shoot a 50-structure ship in the first bout you only wasted an eighth (50/400) of your damage instead of a sixth (50/300).
- Pronounces fighter mechanic stronger - there are multiple effects:
- fighters launched in bout 1 can shoot up to three times instead of two times (so up to 50% more damage if not shot down before)
- fighters launched in bout 2 can shoot up to two times instead of one time (so up to 100% more damage if not shot down before). Second-bout fighters are only 33% worse than first-bout fighters (instead of being 50% worse). This makes having extra hangars more worthwhile and can lead to more nuanced carrier builds.
- Fighter fighters can concentrate on enemy ships if enemy fighters are cleared out early. Double the clear view if enemy fighters are completely downed in bout two.
- Flak gets a 50% boost (if fighters are still around)
- We are planning on introducing a simplistic ranges concept (three ranges) which would play really nicely with four bouts. (Stealth mechanics proposal)
Base hull is not directly scaled with structure so it can still be shot down with a single Arc Disruptor shot and basic mines (it scales with the lower of ship weapon damage and ship structure factors). But that is a bit fiddly as reinforced hull tech bonus does scale with structure, so the arc disruptor 3 is guaranteed to one-shot improved base hulls with every scaling setting. Capping the reinforced hull bonus at double hull structure would probably suffice. There is some more stuff which needs to be found out - likely planetary defenses and fighter balance need to be adjusted.
The underlying scaling rules also provide the facility to increase structure/damage if we need more design space for e.g. multi-shot weapons (see Re: Base weapon stats for (mostly) integer values. When introducing the disruptor arc it was almost impossible to find a design spot which is not either underpowered or overpowered or has other strong drawbacks (even the arc disruptor is restricted for balance reasons - it does not scale with pilot skill).
I intend to have four bouts feature to be merged soon after 0.4.10 if possible. The technical underlying scaling rules could certainly go into 0.4.10 as it is basically a refactoring which has no effect if you stay at the default values (3 bouts and no scaling).
Some more reading: Calculating chaff effect in combat in Anybody knows how chaff scale the bouts?, Hidden close range ships can be countered in the fourth bout in Stealth mechanics proposal.