ASF Balance

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Re: ASF Balance

Postby The Mak » 23 Jul 2015, 01:13

KD7BCH wrote:Mod was made by BulletMagnet, we need to check this out and see if he is still active in the community and might want to contribute. It didn't appear to work in my test of it.

Just tested it as well, this fucking patch broke another good mod.
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Re: ASF Balance

Postby Korbah » 23 Jul 2015, 02:18

quark036 wrote:The other problem with buffing flak is that it would negate t1/2 air even harder.

Buffing muzzle velocity actually wouldn't - flak already hits t2 all the time so hitting it faster doesn't increase dps. With ASF currently the projectiles don't move fast enough - speeding them up means they'd hit. The issue with buffing flak is that it's AoE against swarms of ASF - if it does hit it'll hurt em bad.

quark036 wrote:Also, another point. Korbah, you keep saying that asf have no counter but asf, which I agree with, except over water where cruisers will kill them pretty well.

Just be careful with what you've read - I haven't said this in this thread. Others may have - . Clearly there are counters to t3 ASF: T3MAA, SAMs, cruisers/aircraft carriers. The issue with them is the mismatch in mobility between the counters and ASF - thus the reliance on your own ASF to counter ASF.

One reason I am very keen to increase the utility of transports in T3 is that faster, tougher transports will permit more mobile T3MAA - a viable counter to ASF. With increased mobility and a greater reward for ASF kills (due to higher mass cost) - an aggressive use of T3MAA should see more use.

Cruiser and Aircraft carriers for the moment I won't touch. SAMs ditto - they're already functional and I don't want to adjust a terminal balance unit (ie. a one-dimensional unit that can be nerfed/buffed with minimal flow-on effects).

quark036 wrote:However, Briang made a good point that you need basically 1 or 2 extra t3 extractors to spam asf in the same pattern as before. Like I said, this delays the swarm but doesn't solve the problem of the swarm.

I think the effect of this change is certainly more profound in 1v1 or 2v2 games than large team games - a few more t3 extractors is a big deal in small games.

In larger games then it's certainly still possible to spam ASF with the huge eco available on setons/gap etc. As to what effect the current changes have on hoarding of ASF - I'm not currently sure as I don't have enough replays to be confident yet *HINT: post more replays in the Air Leverage thread!!!!!*.

Lets assume that despite my initial changes, ASF still mass too much. Again the response could be to:
1. Hike mass cost
2. Increase the work ASF have to do
3. Buff the existing counters

Option 3 is ill advised - only T3MAA is truly mobile. Cruisers/Aircraft carriers sit in your navy blob and are therefore often static (aircraft carriers need to be protected and sit back often whilst they churn out planes). SAMs clearly static. We don't want more static play - we need dynamic counters which leaves T3MAA as the only good choice here.

T3MAA is already packing good DPS - the issue is getting them moving around the battlefield, especially promoting aggressive pushes. Just upping DPS makes them more static. Transports are the obvious solution - they give T3MAA proxy mobility without buffing DPS. So actually option 3 equates to buffing transports.

Option 1 is to lever option 2 should it prove underwhelming. Shifting the cost metric to more frugal use of ASF for air control. We'll need this option only if option 2 underwhelms.

Options 2 is the obvious choice to work on and is the most complex to get right. Lets consider the "work" ASF can potentially do:

1. Killing T1 Interceptors & Bombers/T2 FB's/Strats:
- Clearly ASF are already excellent in this role.
- I would like for T2 FB's to get a bit of use in T3 as harass units - this will only happen if there's not huge numbers of ASF that can readily wipe them out. T2 FB's are a nice unit for harass because they're counterable with Air/Sea/Land units for a reasonable cost and their snipe potential isn't as good as strats which means that they're overall a better harass unit than a sniper. T2 FB's are a great unit to promote more intense action and gameplay for these reasons
- Strats are already well matched by ASF and give them work to do. One issue is the habit of massing them for a big snipe - this is a boring period with a single moment of excitement. I'm not sure anything should be done about this currently as it's an inherent characteristic of the unit's design. The only thing that might make strats used more for harass is if armies become more mobile in t3 (read: better transport function late game). Again the amount of strat hoarding is map dependent - they're useful against navy (as t2 torp bomber's lose utility in t3 dramatically as naval HP + DPS reaches critical mass....especially combined with ASF helpers)

2. Killing Torp Bombers:
- If T2 torp bombers got more use in t3 then they'd certainly give ASF something to do. As discussed above, T2 torp bombers lose utility once naval HP/DPS crit masses. Perhaps shifting torp bombers to be a more t2.5 unit stat wise and cost wise would increase later game utility and give ASF more to target

3. Killing T2 & T3 Gunships:
- T2 gunships would be a great unit for harass in t3 except for the fact that mobile flak rapes them so hard already. T2 mobile flak is extremely cheap and effective with large AoE's which punishes gunships. This may be appropriate but it does mean that gunships taper off quickly in t2 let alone t3. Having a T2 harass unit in t3 that's fodder for ASF but requires extra commands to counter would be a nice way to make ASF work harder. The trick will be getting the balance right so that the cost/benefit of throwing gunships away in T3 against ASF is worthwhile
- T3 gunships have solid HP and already are a worthy target for ASF. With fewer ASF on the battlefield then perhaps we'll see broader deployment of T3 Gunships (perhaps with t2 gunship escorts). This is purely a numbers game - we'll reach a point where there's fewer ASF on the battle such that by the time they've countered the gunships, the gunships will have done enough damage to justify their deployment

4. Killing Transports:
- ASF currently excel at this. Transport pathing/drop-off can be frustrating at times and leaves them sitting ducks for ASF wipe-out.
- Transports do however, offer the perfect vehicle for delivering the ideal land ASF counter: T3MAA. Should transports be a bit better at getting to a location (ie. speed buff) and survive more than 2 hits from an ASF (ie. modest HP buff) then the risk benefit curve may shift enough such that players are willing to risk making drops in T3 with appropriate scouting and aircover.
- I'm not advocating free-win drops in T3. I'm all about appropriate cost-benefit curves for every strategy. I don't currently believe that the cost-benefit curve of transport use in T3 is enough to promote their use and they need a nudge to try to shift that. How much of a nudge remains to be seen *HINT: Test and post Air Leverage replays*

5. Killing Experimentals:
- Ultimately ASF will still need to counter air experimentals. I wouldn't worry at this stage about xp's becoming overpowered due to insufficient ASF numbers. We can always nerf experimentals in reply should ASF numbers drop sufficiently to make them OP. We'll deal with this problem should it occur. As a terminal unit - experimentals are easy to balance.

In addition to the work ASF have to do we can also make that work HARDER to do

1. Inferior intel:
If radar and omni ranges reduced then ASF would need to be paired with scout planes on patrol to deal with inferior intel to protect against all the threats we've made more frequent. The cost benefit of intel is currently truly excellent - you can very safely cover vast areas of the battlefield for a relatively modest cost. This diminishes the requirement of t3 scouting for the battlefield - meaning that most players just need to spam scouts over the enemy base to check when the next spider/nuke/strat rush is inbound. A more complex intel game with more harass options and greater utility for specialist units such as SCU/ACU radar suites will add to gameplay

2. Fuel timers:
Much has been said about fuel timers are unwanted micro. Perhaps it is - then again I'm never a fan of useless gameplay mechanisms which it is with 16minutes of fuel. It's a potential option to change down to 10mins fuel timer. Also with higher ASF mass costs, refuel bases become a much better idea. Re-fuel bases would then serve as harass targets. I accept that even touching fuel timers is controversial within the community.

3. Speed:
We can slow ASF further to make it harder for them to cover large areas. Too much of a nerf will make them feel less "superior" and thus interferes with the theme of the unit. This is a option that requires careful testing and consideration as it can ruin the feel of the unit.

quark036 wrote:First, do we want to get rid of the asf swarm, and if so, why?

Currently blobs of ASF lead to static play which limits t3 harass and narrows the scope of gameplay. ASF should be present in the game - however, they should have to be split up to cover against multiple threats at once. The more ASF have to deal with at any given time - the more interesting the gameplay will be.

I named my mod "Air Leverage" for a specific reason - fixing ASF/Air isn't a simple thing and will require a vast array of calculated tweaks to lever the gameplay in the direction I want. Harass is something to strive for - viable harass into T3 will definitely increase the intensity of the late game and make for a more rewarding T3 experience. Forcing players to scout well into the game beyond just t3 scout plane spam will increase the drain on resources and also reward crafty play and multitasking.

With the steady introduction and thorough testing of individual, complimentary tweaks we will be able to shift the gameplay, inch-by-inch in the right direction. Wild reworks, overhauls, complete rebalances will not be required - relax we're not going crazy here.
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Re: ASF Balance

Postby KD7BCH » 23 Jul 2015, 12:39

quark036 wrote:Oh, yeah jagged, that's what I was forgetting, I meant to make the same point that we shouldn't remove t1 transport because that is used a lot and provides a lot of tactics.

As to an asf counter, that's tricky, that's why I was asking why you were trying to remove asf swarm. I don't think another new unit should be added. If you want to make a counter to asf, you have to do a large rebalance, say by making intis beat asf mass effectively, but asf are needed to kill fbs and strats because of their speed.

Probably won't move transports out of the tiers if most people think that sucks or reduces options. Probably would still buff them or increase the buff.

ASFs still need to be credible threats to Strats and EXPs yes. We've also made some changes to T2 FBs to make them competitive against strats but still allow strats to be a game ender in groups.
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Re: ASF Balance

Postby KD7BCH » 23 Jul 2015, 12:54

Question about mobile SAMs,

Can they be made to fire while on a transport? If so, could we try doing that, if possible this would increase the utility of transports, and reduce SAM swarm and also help provide a local "Earnerd Air Superiority" 5 Transports with 2 Mobile SAMs each, would kill around 10 ASFs/sec in the first 2 seconds, giving a substantial boost to the side that went through the effort to micro all that, it also wouldn't be over powered, but that would be a hell of a counter to ASFs, especially late game when you could have like 25 transports protected by ASFs and another 10 transports with a ground landing force.

Because though early on you can Rush ASFs, you can't both rush an air factory and a land factory without an economy to support it this combination wouldn't show up until after ASFs mad their appearance and established domination in the skies. Were this possible, this could open some doors on Setons as well with large "package" type force landings which right now get totally wiped out over the water.

Also I like your idea about potentially reducing intel ranges. We have to test.

I'd like to cite this excellent thread from 2013 on air with a 38 page discussion that I have not read though entirely yet where ASF balance and the resulting Mobile SAMS were added...


If they were able fire while airborne then we might need to tweak their fire rate but we'd have a true counter to ASFs that would be destroyable by ASFs, destroyable by any A<>A or AAA or SAM without adding a whole new unit to the game. PRESTO!

This might necessitate buffing of transports to keep the tactic viable in T3 but we already want to do that anyway.
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