Scrounger, crit, and Ammo sustain consistency

There’s this weird phenomenon right now that just doesn’t feel quite right with scrounger, crits, and ammo pools. In the current state:

effective ammo consumed per shot = 1 - ( ROUND[ammo pool * 0.05] * crit chance )
or
Effective Ammo Pool = ammo pool / ( 1- ROUND[ammo pool * 0.05] * crit chance )

The balance discussion here is complicated so lets look at some examples:

Swift bow on waystalker:
image

You go from 135 at 0.05 crit chance (35% boost) to 200 at 0.1 crit chance (one trait - 100% boost) to 400 at 0.15 crit chance (300% boost) to infinite ammo at 0.2 percent crit chance. Now lets look at the other extreme of this situation.

Grudge-Raker on ironbreaker:
image

You basically get one extra shot per 5% crit chance, maxing out at 4 extra shots (25% increased ammo pool). The issue you will face here is it will be anywhere between two and four extra shots over your whole ammo pool depending on how RNG treats you (due to small number of shots and high statistical noise).

So two extreme cases to demonstrate the range of possibilities. If you plot effective ammo pools as a percentage of the original ammo pool, this is what you get. I added huntsman with the repeater handgun to the mix as a less extreme example.
image

Forgetting, for the moment, about guaranteed crits, every class and weapon is going to fall between the two extremes of this chart.

So the effects are clear:

  1. Weapons and careers with high ammo sustain benefit much more from scrounger than weapons and careers with low ammo sustain
  2. Critical hit chance is the gatekeeper for ammo sustain in cases where scrounger is significant. If your crit rate is high enough, you have infinite ammo.

From a design perspective this seems wrong. Because this is a thread about ammo sustain, I will use bullets:

  • An ammo sustain talent should make high-ammo and high-sustain careers even sustain-y-er. That much seems to be working here.
  • It’s strange to have an ammo sustain talent that can’t make low sustain weapons sustain any better.
  • It’s strange to have an asymptotic return curve where some combos can get infinite ammo while others can barely get 4 extra shots.
  • Ranger veteran bardin is sad because nobody wants his ammo pickups anymore, especially with many weapons having no ammo requirements anyway.

I would like to see scrounger re-worked so it can provide a more consistent and balanced effect across all weapons and careers. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Eliminate reliance on crit. Critical hits are already a must pick for many careers and traits, and I don’t think it creates a very good balance environment when crits can be stacked to exploit a weapon trait like scrounger. It makes the trait too strong in some situations and useless in others.

  2. Change scrounger to directly affect reserve ammo pool. That’s what it effectively does now and it would be much easier to have it work directly on ammo pool rather than indirectly through RNG. I could see +X% ammo pool size being a happy balance point. All (ammo’ed) weapons would benefit from this equally.

This would have the following effects:

  • Ranger veteran is passively buffed a little. Even with bigger ammo pools, heroes still need reloads because ammo pools are no longer potentially unbounded by high crit rates. 30% ammo pouches could make a comeback and people would actually be thrilled to have a RV supporting them.

  • Ranged characters still have the potential to increase their ranged weapon sustain and synergize with talents like “regain x% of your ammo when you do Y”.

  • Low ammo pool weapons can have another trait that’s at least somewhat competitive. Being able to have 24 shots on grudge-raker vs 16 would be great. 150 shots on the swiftbow instead of 100 would not be too broken. 4 javelins instead of 3 would be a nice bump but not too crazy.

  • Crit chance is nerfed a little. Crits are great, I like crits, but they are just too central to too much of the game. I’d love to run with some other traits sometimes, and not having infinite ammo dangling in front of me would make that an easier choice. Guaranteed crits are also no longer a pathway to infinite ammo unless you have some talent synergy, which I think is a better place for the ranged meta.

  • Infinite ammo sustain is more exotic as a trait. This would contribute to an (IMO) already problematic power consolidation issue in moonbow and the javelin, but that’s a different topic.

  • Scrounger might still out-compete all the other ranged weapon traits, but I think that’s a ranged weapon trait issue and scrounger would be in a slightly better spot for making other balance changes.

EDIT:
I also want to point out all the numbers in this post are theoretical maximums not including any guaranteed crit talents. Your actual ammunition benefit will be less than what is presented here, due to missing shots that would have been crits, which is less of a problem on the high end of the curve (swift bow) and more of a problem at the low end (crossbow, grudge-raker).

TL:DR - scrounger is both too strong and too weak depending on your loadout. I’d like to change it to a flat ammo reserve buff so it’s consistently good-enough-to-pick across all builds without being broken-A-F on some.

7 Likes

Reverting Scrounger to a flat 2 ammo return would flatten the curve a little.

It would shift / standardize the curve by eliminating ammo pool, yes. In my opinion that solves half the problem. The other half being crit chance being a mandatory pick for most builds and low crit rate being non-viable.

With a flat 2 ammo returned you’re looking at:

  • 0.05 crit rate: 11% ammo boost
  • 0.10 crit rate: 25% ammo boost
  • 0.15 crit rate: 43% ammo boost
  • 0.20 crit rate: 66% ammo boost

Which I think puts too much pressure toward running nothing but crit boosts on your weapons and jewelry, and makes scrounger useless on base crit rate. I think crit rate is already too prominent a trait in the game to also be the gateway to ammo sustain.

Beautifully written post. Gotta love myself some curves. And numbers.
I think everything that relies on crits ends up being a problem unless crit chance has diminishing returns.

2 Likes

Great post, love the breakdown. My only issue with your Scrounger ideas is that either would really screw BH over since Scrounger is 95% of his ammo sustain. It’s a shame because in terms of how Scrounger interacts with high crit melee classes I completely agree with where you’re trying to go with the trait.

1 Like

Agree 100%. I actually see this as a bounty hunter issue (no offense saltz) that has been mitigated by the weird state of scrounger. If scrounger weren’t a thing we might be having similar discussions about BH that we’re having about waystalker and how kurnous’ reward is almost mandatory for some builds.

This is particularly evident if you’ve ever tried to run bounty hunter on chaos wastes. Ugh!

I think it would be fair to say that adjusting scrounger would have to be part of a larger game balance move that would include all the careers and their relationships with crits / ammo sustain.

3 Likes

Scrounger and crits are in decent condition. That took a lot of balancing there and back to come to the current state. It would be better if developers concentrated their efforts on refining underperforming weapons and improved / reworked some talents.

1 Like

Crits are in decent condition? Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
I think that does not address an interesting point of Philip, though: Low ammo weapons barely benefit from an ammo sustain talent.

5 Likes

Scrounger doesn’t need to be equally effective on all ranged weapons, if it’s not enough ammo sustain, try other traits, or shoot less until you find ammo on the map. Crit chance isn’t a must pick on gear when you can get guaranteed crits or your crit chance can get high enough from talents. Changing scrounger to an increase of ammo pool is like taking the synergy out of those talents that already exist and is really boring and requires no action to make use of other than picking that trait. Low ammo weapons have low ammo because their ammo is more impactful than the ammo of weapons with higher ammo counts so they aren’t meant to be spammed at everything like a swiftbow for example.

That’s a pretty disingenuous argument when OP is specifically talking about % total ammo increase. Nowhere do they suggest you should be able to spam low ammo weapons, just that the gap in effectiveness is absurdly large, which it is. Do you not think the current system is pretty extreme?

Yes but I also don’t think scrounger should be the go-to pick for even more ranged weapons. The low ammo weapons have plenty good other traits they can run as is with some outliers that are largely useless for all ranged weapons. Only those weak traits need some attention.

1 Like

Normalising Scrounger would do more than just make it a better pick for low ammo weapons on low crit careers.

It would stop crit melee classes getting good ammo sustain for free. It would make Scrounger less of a default choice for high ammo weapons. It could also return more of a balance where Scrounger doesn’t just straight beat CS on some weapons despite CS having an actual skillful trigger condition.

There are a lot of wonky ammo sustain issues in this game, and normalising Scrounger would be a great first step to address some of these.

Yea, probably because there is conservative shooter for that case. :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Ignoring for now that I absolutely do not thing that crit is fine, it somehow doesn’t sit right with me that the best option for ammo sustain, and certainly one of the better options altogether, on shotguns, is a trait requiring headshots. :man_shrugging:
I suppose it needn’t influence game design, though.

That said, scrounger granting effectively over +100% ammo to any melee-focused class with +5% crit available somewhere is rather above average.
I’m just not sure how to do something that slightly brings down the cap, and maybe raises the floor, without becoming as convoluted as most of fatshark’s stats. Looking at how they calculate the actual crit damage, I’m kind of flabbergasted that they went with clear, flat percentages on traits.

One of the reasons it is so hard to balance scrounger, and thus why it took so many passes (and it’s still not balanced) is likely because of the issues I raised. Had scrounger been a flat ammo percentage boost from the very beginning, I think balancing it would have taken very little effort.

And for the weapons that get infinite ammo from scrounger - would your suggestion be to shoot more and pick up less ammo?

This kind of misses the point. I’m not saying the ammo sustain at the low end is not enough, and I’m not saying the ammo sustain at the high end is too much. I am saying (and @alsozara correctly reinforced) that the ammo sustain on the low end and high end are too far apart, and depend too much on crit rate which is already a very very powerful and highly utilized stat.

I’m glad you brought this up, actually, because with guaranteed crits you get additional wonkiness. Did you know, for example, that you can infinitely sustain ammo on the TrollHammer Torpedo with scrounger using the outcast engineer’s guaranteed crit talent? Is that appropriate? Crits are a weird choice to govern ammo sustain.

This is also consistent with my thoughts on the matter. Scrounger is basically mandatory on some weapons and careers, and on those weapons / careers, +10% crit is almost also a requirement, which I think is problematic. To quote myself:

It’s important to re-center though and recognize that changing scrounger in isolation - just changing how it works without adjusting anything else in the game, would cause a ton of problems. A change to scrounger would need to be accompanied by a lot of tweaking elsewhere, which makes it a good candidate for a larger balance pass.

This is a good point, and I’ll add that headshots in this game can be insanely difficult due to stagger and AI pathing finicks, and going for headshots usually reduces your overall hit rate which mitigates a lot of the ammo sustain you get from conservative shooter. Not to mention that a lot of weapons don’t even need headshots to kill in one hit, and some weapons aren’t even really capable of headshotting consistently even if you use an aimbot (blunderbuss!)

BUT conservative shooter isn’t really the focus of this discussion and neither is the crit meta (6/14 traits are crit mediated!), but they are both very relevant tangents.

1 Like

Not necessarily, keeping thp high is more important than shooting everything to death. Even if some weapons can maintain infinite ammo, it normally doesn’t play out because no one is perfectly accurate.

This requires using your crankgun in a manner that lowers your dps so it’s not utilized often when in a difficult situation.

Neither of those things are true in my experience, but I don’t want to derail the thread by arguing about ranged weapon tactics.

Current Scrounger/Conservative Shooter balance is decent enough to be left alone. Scrounger is good for classes and weapons with high crit rate, and Conservative Shooter allow you to continue killing specials for a very long time, given you killing them with headshots.

The main purpose of ranged weapons on melee classes is to kill specials. Half of the specials is easy to kill with headshot with no high skill required. That is actually well made.

About shotguns though, and to address your ammo reserve issue, I would suggested to add new ranged trait to the game:
Recycle - Each n-th successful shot is returns to the ammo pool.

Anyway, it is more likely that new trait will be added than complicated work of balancing talents, ammo pools and who know what more will be thrown away to rework Scrounger.

1 Like

Wrong topic reply from me here.

I think i would like to see more a trait like this added to the game instead of replacing Scrounger. I already feel like there is little competition on traits right now at least now scrounger compete with conservative shooter on some weapons but the consequent balance ramification would be too many.

  • First problem with removing scrounger is that talents the provise ammo sustain now become even more of a must pick, BH is sad becuse his ammo sustain talent is shitty and outcast engeneer gets even more outcast because he does’t have one, careers with great ammo sustain like RV an WS recive considerable buff.

  • Second problem, competition: make it too little increase Conservative Shooter become the better option make it too big is a must pick i don’t see a middle ground.

  • I don’t think it would affect the crit chance meta either, to my knowledge crit chance on the rangend weapon is mostly only added if you don’t need that spot for power vsX to reach some special/ elite breakpoints wich is rare on cata, the extra crit on the trinket would still be there for swift slaying.

What i think could be an interesting option is to introduce new trait that increase ammo pool to around to something between 10% and 20% ( with making the ranged careers default ammo increase and consecutive ammo sustain only work on base ammo pool of the weapon ), this would not be enough to compete with Scrounger or Consevative Shooter in most situations but could better enable builds for WhC Merc and HM that have that extra 30% ammo talent very rarerly used making them a true hybrid class with good ranged potential but inferior ammo sustain of a pure ranged class while still have their great utility. I can’t say for sure if this can change the " top meta" but i belive it can only do good for the variety of the game.

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