Crumble, Collapse, and Damage Gating: a short discussion on stat-concentration.

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What the heck is crumble ??

Suppose you're playing some kind of turret game:

On team A, you have one big gun.

On team B, you have two half-guns. Each has half the health and damage per second.

Who wins?

Each team has the same total health and DPS, so you might think it's tied. However, team B will lose half its DPS partway through the fight. Thus, team A survives with a quarter of its health left at the end. The weakness which team B has is called crumble; a gradual loss of power as punishment is taken. Meanwhile, team A doesn't ever lose DPS until it's dead entirely, giving it a leg up on the competition despite the identical stat totals.

This means one "half gun," has less than half the value of one whole gun. For team B to tie team A, each "half gun" actually needs 2/3rds the total HP of a whole. The math is quite simple: it spends equal amounts of time at 100 and 50% DPS, so that's 75% DPS on average throughout the fight. For a 75% DPS team, to match the damage of a 100% DPS team, it has to last 100/75 = 4/3rds as long. This means you need 4/3rds the total health of the whole gun, which divided by two, comes out to 2/3rds per half gun, for the halves to match the whole.

The same goes for if you're using third-guns. For a trio of third-guns to match a whole, each individual gun actually needs a whole half of the whole-gun's HP value. In other words, what appeared to be a half on team B, was actually just a third. Furthermore, the two true-half-guns, versus the three true-third-guns, are also evenly matched, conserving the value-statistic across multiple comparisons; the only difference is that their fight will take 1/8th more time to complete, than a fight with either of them versus the whole-gun would.


Effects like this can make seemingly less efficient, but larger and more concentrated pieces of equipment, actually much much better than smaller ones.

Three spectres compared to four vectors, for example:

Disregarding the perk, each spectre deals 8 damage per shot, whereas each vector does ~7.5 (double does 15). That's 24 damage per tap for three spectres, and 30 for four vectors, at equal energy cost and less powerscore on the vector side (hence their popularity in PvE, where bots don't target guns).

However, spectres have 135 HP to each vector's mere 74: it would take four vectors 4.5 taps to break a spectre, but triple-spectres will actually break a vector in 3.08 shots, i.e. before that happens (or just 3 or less with the perk, but ignore this for now).

  • After those 3.08 taps, at t=4, vector #1 dies, and spectre #1 is left with 15 health.
  • After one more tap, at t=5, spectre #1 dies, and vector #2 is left with 50 health.
  • After 3.12≈4 more taps, at t=9, vector #2 dies, and spectre #2 is left with 45 health.
  • After exactly 3 more taps, at t=12, spectre #2 dies, leaving vector #3 with 26 health.
  • After 3.25≈4 more taps, at t=16, vector #3 will die, leaving us with one of each gun, the spectre having... 75 HP left. That's a point more than the vector, and it does more base damage per shot. So, spectres win by a hair.

And that's without the perk.

Look at how frequently the spectres had their tapcount rounded up: 3.08, 3.12, 3.25 all rounded up to 4, overkilling individual vectors and thus wasting DPS. If we ONLY assume that the perk rounds the first 3.08 down to 3 shots, the comparison snowballs in favor of the spectres;

  • At t=3, vector #1 dies and spectre #1 is left with 90 HP.
  • Spectre #1 WOULD die in exactly 4 more taps, but it actually kills the next vector in 3.08 taps now. Even if we round the 3.08 up to 4 here, the vector and spectre kill eachother simultaneously, which leaves each side with two guns. Only, one side has two whole spectres with 135 HP each, whereas the other side only has two vectors with 74 a pop. Or, if we round 3.08 down again, you can break two vectors without losing a single spectre.

So you can see how subtle differences in stat concentration actually have a huge effect in who wins a firefight. 

HOWEVER, vectors and spectres alike can both die in a single junkbow shot, and four vectors offer a larger number of targets to hit. By virtue of this rounding effect, it could be said that the vectors are better at damage gating, an effect which should not be ignored when looking at high alphastrike weapons. However, spectres are only a point of health away from being able to withstand a single junkbow shot, so a single pellet missing is enough to turn the tables, not to mention potential codriver differences. Plus, actually spreading four vectors out is no easy task; with your weapons just in a line, spectres will have better firing angles off the side, since your left/rightmost weapon will be an 8-damage-per-shot spectre with a perk, as opposed to a 7.5 damage vector without one.

As a side note, this is also why the 3-energy miniguns are notably bad. Not only do they suffer from terrible crumble, but the crumbling can occur before you even wind the guns up, for an even more pronounced effect. If you're optimizing your DPS with an aurora, for double damage upon heating enemy parts, you'll be losing half your damage if your one and only aurora gets knocked off, and the target cools down. Because of this, Photon-aurora setups can often outperform miniguns.


The same goes for gun versus cabin HP. If someone chooses to target your cabin rather than your guns, you're now effectively one big "whole" gun that won't suffer from crumble. So, to balance out your cabin and gun HP, your cabin doesn't actually have to quite match the total health of your guns.

As you can deduce from the first section, if you have two guns, you only need 150% of an individual gun's health on your cabin for stripping/killing to be no more safe an option against you than the other. Or, if you have three guns, you only need the health of two of them. So with something like two ~1k typhoons/pulsars, that's around 1500 health you can put on your cabin, before people start ignoring it and degunning you instead. Or, with three guns of ~280 HP or less (the amount of damage a single scorpion round does), you actually only need around 560 health, which can obtained even with grey cabins. Armor, etc will skew this though, but I'm not going to get into HP mechanics here. There's also the fact that you can still cap and detonate without weapons and so on, but this works as a nice guiding principle.

For further info on cabins, see my guide here:

As a side note, "weak link" health balancing also applies while mixing and matching different weapons. If your weapons have about the same base damage, but one has much less HP, that gun will be targeted first. To balance them out, you want about the same DPS/health ratio on all your weapons. So, if you've got a rapier on the hood of your jockey cab, and a whirlwind in the back, try fusing the rapier for 10% more durability. This is largely just a side note though, as it'll only have 138 HP and still die instantly to most high alpha weapons either way.


What should be learned from the previous three sections, is that:

  • Having your stats be more condensed, onto a single piece of hardware, is better.
  • Higher rarity guns, despite their increased energy costs, can massively outperform low rarity ones, due to their stats being more condensed.
  • Cabins, due to being entirely condensed, require very little investment to not be a weak link compared even to high-rarity weapons.

And the data supports this: sealclubs are usually running high rarity weapons on low rarity cabins, rather than the reverse. Even the developers are in on it: we have two extra rarity tiers for weaponry than we do cabins. We even have an extra generator tier; as a side note, I would say that this too makes sense. You generally want a generator of equal or greater rarity to your cabin, if at all.


What the heck is collapse ??

Suppose your frames are set up like this:


Seems pretty good. Both wheels have two connections, the most they could possibly have, and all the frames except the red frame are attached to the cabin, which is itself connected to two copies of itself. Lose any one frame, and both wheels will remain. Lose the red frame plus another, and you'll still have one wheel left. Lose all three, or just the back two, and everything's gone.

Now look at this:


This one frame has the health and powerscore of three. Lose what was originally "one frame" of health, and everything's still there. Lose what was originally "two frames" of health, and everything's still there, where originally you would have lost at least one wheel, potentially both. Only once you've lost "three frames" of health does everything collapse, this being the weakness of smaller frames. Rather than having DPS which crumbles, clusters of smaller frames actually cause entire pieces of equipment to fall off more rapidly than "whole" frames do. Not only that, but they can also potentially take thrice the net frame damage from splash, if each frame gets hit.

HOWEVER, all frames will die in a single shot to scorpion rounds, due to the scorpion dealing full damage to them as opposed to letting 90% pass through. Against this weapon, the first setup can be better for its ability to gate the damage. The scorpion user likely won't care either way if you've got Hitchcock's fuel tank under your cabin though, making it once again better to weld your frames together. Furthermore, you can only connect a wheel to two frames at a time tops, so it's not hard to get the best of both worlds.


This same logic applies to frames underneath guns, compounding collapse and crumble. Often I'll see framework that's set up like this (one weapon removed for visibility):


Each gun has its own frame to surround with armor, etc. But for the same investment, why not do this:


That's the same total frame HP, except now there's 24 frame health (effective 240) underneath each spectre, as opposed to just 16 from one buggy floor. It's also more well gated, as each gun is on two separate frames as opposed to just one, with there being three in total to shoot as opposed to just two. You could also split the buggy floor in half to produce an H-shaped seam, for three parts touching each gun, but then one of your frames wouldn't be touching the cabin, and you'd be more susceptible to splash. If you want your frames to be really really healthy though:


I wouldn't recommend this for anything besides mammoths maybe, as you don't need 54 HP under each gun (effective 540), but it's notable in that the gun mount is connected to the frame below. There's also some nice 2x2x4 hardware space underneath the middle small floor, with a thin 1x1x4 slot for a van ramp running beside it under the gun mount.

Alternatively, you could have replaced the middle floor with something like an engine. The hot red engine, when fused for durability, actually matches a buggy floor's effective HP. Put that underneath some fafnirs and you've got a good setup, with it both increasing their reload speed and helping keep your velocity up for their perk. Probably worth trimming some powerscore though.

Edited by XR57
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Good stuff. 

However, it's kinda under laboratory conditions. Regarding weapons, in a real game the bigger gun will most likely be easier to hit as well. 

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With relatively accurate hitscan weapons like machineguns, I don't think target size is too big an issue. But with something like a scorpion, yes, cyclones are easier targets than rapiers for sure, etc.

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36 minutes ago, XR57 said:

With relatively accurate hitscan weapons like machineguns, I don't think target size is too big an issue.

Agree, with the exception of spectres. :)

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Great guide.

This is why heavy builds with their guns poking up on the top is not a good idea. It could've forgone a bunch of the armor and lowered its PS, then being matched where it belongs ("sealclubbing" aside).

If you want to be a max mass-limit heavy without just having wasteful PS, armor the guns behind so much structure that destroying the vehicle outright and just disarming it practically become the same thing.

Since the Scorpion-frame interaction is getting changed (along with its collision model) soon, that mention might not be as relevant for long.

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