Captain Mode Skirmisher AI Fix

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Knight at Arms
Hello @badbuckle !

In light of your most recent triumphs with Shield Strength Multipliers, I'd like to suggest a low-medium effort solution for the ongoing Skirmisher AI problems in Captain mode.
I am the only psychopath I know of that mains Skirmishers in Captain any more. Its common to play an entire evening of Captain and not see anyone play them at all. Its entirely possible I have the most time in-game playing Skirmishers in Captain, which is depressing, but hopefully I can share perspective on their problems.
The biggest problem and the lowest hanging solution are as follows:

The Suicidal Skirmisher Issue:
  • Skirmishers are built to be hit and run missile fighters, but if they are used this way, they Team Kill the living hell out of themselves.
  • The main problem is that once you hit a certain point in the "Ready" animation for Skirmishers, any attempt to "leave" that animation actually completes the throw. You can see this if you are moving and firing on an enemy, then give a "Fall back" command. They will swivel almost randomly and plant missiles in each other. This can also happen in other combinations with "Hold Fire", which ironically can cause Skirmishers to murder their friends with a thrown missile.
  • The Captain player has made no "mistakes" here in their play, and are indeed playing them the way they are designed, but are being punished for it..
  • This is INSANELY punishing to the Skirmisher player, who is already playing the least viable class. Not only have you lost valuable missiles that are in too short supply, you have lost troops or at least health.
  • This presents a further balance problem, where this actually gets worse the more troops a Skirmisher unit has, meaning we can't balance this with straight stat modifications.
  • The problem is made much worse by the Solo-Captain Missile AI Exploitation issue, as Skirmishers will wildly change direction at the last moment upon noticing them and hurl missiles into adjacent Skirmishers. Solocav can devastate Skirmisher units without attacking them at all.
  • All of this also happens with archers, but is not usually as fatal, and the strategy with Archers is not as move and fire heavy. Firing on the move could even be consider "poor play".

The Solution:
Obviously, we could make the AI perfect, but this is not practical in technical or dev-time terms.

I suggest we remove the problem entirely.
  • Missiles would be given a `AI Grace Window` before they are "armed".
  • If they strike an Ally from the same Unit while within the `AI Grace Window`, the missile simply despawns and does no damage.'
Design Considerations and Gameplay Effects:

What this will encourage:
  • Using Skirmishers in a hit and run capacity.
  • Skirmisher Captains making tactical decisions to `Charge` and fire, `Fall Back` and fire, or Hold Position and fire.
    • Skirmisher play should ultimately be about risk and reward of your engagement distance, and managing your limited ammo resources to get the most damage to the right targets at the right time.
      • Do you push the envelope and try to get closer to an enemy for more effective fire, or do you get some space in case they rush?
      • Do you feign having made an engagement distance mistake to bait enemies to give up their position to engage you?
    • Skirmishers should be able to punish out of position unshielded troops with their superior move speed.
    • Due to the Friendly Fire AI problem, Skirmishers are currently not very good at doing this. They can't fire in many of these scenarios without guaranteeing they will do more damage to themselves than to the opponent in the short term. They can't quickly punish an opponent who has made a mistake without risking massive FF damage to themselves.
    • Punishing poorly positioned or badly engaged Skirmishers with good Infantry play is not adversely affected by the AI Grace Window change.
What this will still discourage:
  • Will help mitigate Solo-Captain ranged AI abuse shenanigans, which is ALWAYS the right decision.
  • Will still punish Skirmisher Captains for inappropriately firing when friendly units are in danger, as the AI Grace Window does not ignore Allies from other units or outside the range.
  • Still punishes Skirmisher captains for failing to cease fire when a Cav Unit is baring down, as they will still lose valuable missiles.
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