Alrighty, so, I didn't want to write up a post like this until I got a good deal of game time with Entrenchment and be able to do this kind of thing justice.
So, time to jump right in.
Right away it becomes obvious that starbases were designed to be flexible and specialized - having many more possible upgrades than available upgrade slots. Some of these roles they can fill well, others not so much. Their super abilities seem appropriate to their races.
The problem with them becomes with a certain playstyle. Namely, those who want Starbases to be the unavoidable defense mechanism are disappointed because, well, they're mostly avoidable. The most common suggestion to "fix" this is to increase their range. But then, that doesn't actually fix anything. Sure, with a longer range it'll be harder to pass it by without taking any shots. But you could still pass it by. Sure you might lose a few frigates while your fleet passes in range, but if you don't want to fight it [unless you're trying to bomb a planet and the orbiting starbase has a working upgrade that protects the planet] you can still jump out and attack another planet.
So, a range increase won't really do much, the way I see it. That's not to say range cannot be tweaked, but this range breakdown would make sense to me (this assumes maxed out weapon upgrades, and I could see sticking some of these range enhancements in them):
- Each starbase seems to have a short, medium, and long range weapon with the starting weapon being medium.
- The "short" range weapon should be able to hit any ship short of each races' long range frigates/defense busters.
- The medium range weapon should be able to hit Vasari/Advent long range frigates. The TEC always had a range advantage with the Javelis, so it needs to keep it.
- The long range weapon should hit all ships except defense busters.
-The long range weapon should also do more damage, as it's the only weapon that can hit that far, and the closer you come to the starbase the more firepower from other weapons it can use. At the same time, shortest weapon should do the most damage as it's similarly limited and it's the "special" weapon (heavy beams, lightning, etc). So in terms of highest>lowest damage progression it should be Shortest > Longest > Medium.
Now, that still leaves us with the problem of being able to bypass the starbases. The best suggestion for this I have is to bring back the beta-style PJI as part of its "this planet can't be nuked while the starbase is alive" upgrade. Basically, it would prevent jumping into your space but have no penalties for jumping into neutral or hostile space. Basically, it would be purely defensive. A hostile fleet that jumps in would be able to leave unhindered, but not be allowed to pass by the starbase to raid the next planet. This would also be useful at the star, if you own a planet that connects to it, or neutrals in the similar setup.
This PJI-like effect plus the range moderate range changes, when supported by repair stations and conventional defenses, should definitely make a maxed out "defensive" starbase do a good job at the defending thing. I definitely think most/all range enhancements should be part of the weapons upgrade.
The last thing is more aesthetic and unlikely to change. But, it's a bit odd for a starbase with so many firing points to all focus on a single ship. The imagery of a giant starbase loaded with weapons in movies, games, etc is that it's able to attack many ships at once. Watching it pour everything into one ship is a bit anti-climatic, especially when that ship (usually) doesn't even pop in one volley. Pretty sturdy ship to survive *that* much punishment for a while.. In any case, if it's possible, I think it would be great to tweak the focus fire mechanics a bit. I realize this is probably too deep in the weapons code since even with 20 firing points it's still one weapon and one shot, though. But, better to bring it up than not.
So mines turned out to be sort of a can of worms. In principle, they can be a great addition but their implementation right now is a little wonky:
- First, the mine detection is a bit buggy. In a lot of cases, they flicker between vulnerable/invulnerable which adds quite a bit of time since there's a very small window in which a ship can fire at them so the stars need to align just right.
- Second, placing mines takes way, way less effort than it does to disarm them (especially the spam-a-riffic Vasari/Advent ones).
- Third, mines created by the Vasari ability can be spammed to an insane amount, and to a lesser extent the same can be done with the Advent mines. The AI especially on Autocast just floods mines *everywhere*. I recently played a game where it took me half an hour to clear 600+ Vasari mines from one grav well with the flickering glitch. TEC doesn't really have this problem because mines cost resources, so the AI at least doesn't spam them.
- Fourth, Advent/Vasari mines can be deployed right at the jump-in spot.
Assuming the flickering glitch is fixed, the only remaining major issues are the effort to disarm and the spammability.
- Mines are easy to deploy, so they should not be cumbersome to sweep.
- Currently, you need to micromanage extensively to disarm mines. First you move a scout in, then some combat ships, wait for them to shoot, then repeat.
The best idea I have is that mine sweeping should be consolidated to be done by one ship (preferrably the scout). This would work great for Advent/Vasari mines since they are the SpaceMine entity so the scout's minesweep ability can easily apply a DoT to mines in range. But of course, the TEC mines are planetary structures so that doesn't work. Failing that, the scout should at least disable abilities on the mines so they don't explode and so that you don't need to hold your breath and hope your ships making wide forward arcs on turns don't hit them. Either way, something needs to be done to cut down on the micromanaging required to destroy the mines.
Some kind of limit on mines allowed per grav well would probably be good (50-60?), but making all of them cost resources seems a more streamlined limiter - especially when disarming becomes easier and (hopefully) there's some AE way to sweep them.
Now, deploying mines at jumpin is nasty. Nasty, nasty. There's absolutely nothing incoming ships can do. Sure there are jump-in angles that you can control, but it's fairly easy to cover the entire arc with mines and even if you scout that minefield you still don't have a choice but to jump in a lot of cases. You can send a few suicide ships to trigger some mines, but the enemy can just replenish them for free. If the scout detection disabled abilities on the mines, this wouldn't be a problem - but as long as Advent and Vasari mines can be deployed beyond the standard build zone, this will always be an issue.
The Ogrov and the Starfish (well, we have the space whale, might as well have another marine nickname!) are interesting ships, but their usefulness is greatly diminished by the fact that their damage is strictly done by abilities and right now you have to target each and every ship. You really need to be able to select all of them, click the ability, select the target and have all of the selected ships use the ability. Otherwise they will never be used if you need to babysit cooldowns for each and every ship.
I don't have much other issue with them. There are some suggestions about combining the defense buster and the siege frigate but I don't see a logical connection between the two. Sieges are paper thin with short range planet nukes, and defense busters are sturdier cruisers with extremely long range attack. The two are pretty much incompatible, the role types differ too much to merge the ships.