Swift Wind unit description and Shocker bomb damage.

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Ethos

  • Aeon. I play them the most, followed by Seraphim. My most played game types are team games (3+ vs 3+) followed by a few 1v1 or 2v2 match maker games every now and then. Over time I have noticed a few things about Aeon. Their units tend to be the best at doing one job, but they are also incapable of performing effectively outside their specific role (mostly).
  • I want every unit (of every faction) to be 'useful'. Useful to me doesn't mean usable. Instead useful means that a unit possesses a reason to be built.
    E.g. You build a Scout because it is useful for scouting. You however don't build Light Assault Bots to kill Rhinos because it isn't useful (sure it can be done but it's a bad decision, thus making this decision not useful).

Problem (in FAF)

  • Some units are sub-par (bad when used for their intended purpose), or lack practical use owing to imbalance. Basically they aren't useful or they don't conform to an obvious balance trend between equivalent units.
  • These units include: Swift Winds and Shockers.
  • Swift Winds are effective against T2 air, if that was what guides, tooltips, in game text said, that would be fine. However these descriptions make you think the Swift Wind is a better Interceptor. It's not. It actually is worse than the Interceptor in terms of efficiency by about a factor of two.
  • Shockers don't follow the same trend between damage radius and bomb damage which applies to all other T3 bombers. Additionally their small damage radius makes them ineffective (not useful) at killing anything except stationary targets or units with very slow (<1.7. I.e. < move speed of ACU since ACU can dodge their bombs all day long) move speeds.

Showcase of the issue
Swift Wind:

  • Data:
    Anti-air efficiency comparison between T2 air units.
    d8ed8f03-e4d4-47c2-b0a5-f891ec58e019-image.png
    Anti-air efficiency comparison between T1 air units and the Swift Wind.
    20061256-3101-4f71-affa-b60c24e13de5-image.png
    _Ratio is calculated as (subject_unit_statistic)/(standardised_unit_statistic).
    _Best? is calculated as (hp/m_ratio)*(dps/m_ratio).

A simple analysis. The above tables can be easily summarised as follows. Swift Winds will trade effectively with any T2 air unit, while they will trade inefficiently against T1 air units. Therefore Swift Winds are ill-suited to fight T1 Interceptors. Looking more carefully into the calculated data, Swift Winds get ~2 less HP per mass spent and ~0.35 less DPS per mass spent compared to Interceptors.

Shocker:

  • Data:
    Number of bombs taken by T3 Bombers to kill a T3 Mex.
    80d661bc-f5ee-4a0c-874f-69a1dc9c76d6-image.png

A simple analysis. Currently for T3 Bombers, the ratio between damage and payload radius is: Damage = 4500-(Radius*250). You can look at the unit database to confirm this. The Shocker has 50 damage less (per bomb) than dictated by this ratio.
I won't go into goodies and how they reflect T3 Bomber balance.

Solution

  • Please change the description of Swift Winds to something along the lines of "Anti-T2 air fighter". This should minimise confusion regarding the unit. As far as I can tell there are no negative implications or repercussions by making this change.
  • Change the bomb damage of the Shocker from 3450 to 3500 (an increase of 50). This will pull it inline with the other T3 bombers. Additionally this will make the Shocker unique in regard to it's interaction with T3 Static Anti-Air, and the Seraphim T3 Mexus. Both T3 Static AA (all factions) and Sera T3 Mexus have 7000HP which will be able to be killed in 2 shots, not 3 with the changed Shocker. An alternative solution to increasing the Shocker bomber damage by 50, would be to add a miniscule amount tracking to the bomb. Not so much tracking that the ACU can't dodge the bomb, but enough to make it no longer 'super easy' to dodge.
5

Yes, swifties loose mass for mass vs inties but that's intended, otherwise they would be waaay too OP. They are faster which is insanely useful, they have more concentrated dps and hp, are much better vs AoE, they have a lot more fuel so they don't end up useless after 2 interceptions on larger maps. They also can win vs inties if micro'ed well because once they get in behind it's really easy to shred huge clouds in inties.
Imagine if swifties would actually win mass for mass vs inties, with all of their other advantages it would be impossible to win air vs aeon untill mid t3 stage. Oh yeah, they also do quite well vs early ASAF and can easily catch and murder a Strat bomber.

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Thank you for accentuating the advantages of Swift Winds. As a member of the balance team, what are your (and by extension the rest of the teams) thoughts on the Shocker?

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I can't speak for the whole balance team obviously and I am not aware of any current plans for a Shocker rebalance.
IMO Shocker could use some love, perhaps adjusting it's dmg a bit to make it actually better at sniping static units ( mostly buildings) and slow moving units. No promises tho.

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This kind of analysis doesn't always work. Takes aeon labs : they have better dmg/mass and equivalent hp/mass compared to aurora. Just taking those into consideration you would build labs only and never auroras.

But things like speed, range, having more concentrated hp, alpha strike, better turn rate or better turret actually do matter a lot when comparing two units.
You should make some tests with someone else where you fight mass for mass inties vs swifties, and you'll probably realize it's not completly unbalanced towards inties.

I wouldn't say that shockers are useless ... But a small +50 damage boost could make sense yea, it would cement their strenght vs the obvious weakness of having less AoE.

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Don’t ASF lose mass to mass in comparison to Inties techenically? But because ASF kill inities in almost one shot and move faster than Inties. It doesn’t really matter?

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@Tagada said in Swift Wind unit description and Shocker bomb damage.:

I can't speak for the whole balance team obviously and I am not aware of any current plans for a Shocker rebalance.
IMO Shocker could use some love, perhaps adjusting it's dmg a bit to make it actually better at sniping static units ( mostly buildings) and slow moving units. No promises tho.

Just a thought, but a damage over time area effect can deal massive damage against structures, while being very weak against moving and well-microed targets.

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@Dragun101
pretty sure asf are quite a bit more mass efficient than if you account for the hp discretization advantage. They are pretty much on par with inties when you look at hp*dps/mass².
one nice thing about swifties is that they are quite cheap in power. About the level of inties if you look at combat strength.

@Arran for those efficiency calculations maybe you want to read this:
https://docdro.id/fQPR5Et
Unfortunately I did never finish it and it isn't a nice read and I still have an error in with the variables from point 2.5 on. Which is probably for you the more interesting equation because it takes the advantage a unit has due to its higher overall strength into account. Also I am quite sure these calculations have been done before but I didn't read anything up so therefore no references.

But as stated it is not really possible to count smth imba just because of doing some calculations with stats if gameplay testing claimes it is balanced.
These balance calculations only help with getting a good initial base line for balance and isn't really good enough for finding errors within.
It is comparable with walking into the engine developement section of mercedes benz and start talking about the ideal gas equation.

empiricism>theory

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ASF are more mass-efficient if you micro them. If there's zero micro, inties have a lot of chances to shoot them. Same for ASF vs swifties: no micro = swifties have good chances to shoot the ASF.

But if you micro the ASF, you can use the speed/range/hp advantages to avoid that. You can fly around the inti ball instead of flying straight into it. You can fly at it, kill some inties, fly away, repeat. You can also use speed/range/hp advantages similarly for swifties vs. inties and for ASF vs swifties.

And nobody has mentioned air staging. With faster planes that have more HP, you can fight when and where you want to, get some kills, repair your damaged planes, and then go back for more. Even if your ASF take 1,000 damage and the inties take 1,000 damage, that would mean some dead inties and some damaged ASF that can all be repaired.

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@Auricocorico Excellent points. I am aware of those limits when comparing stats in my tables. Sadly incorporating those variables is beyond my abilities. If you would like to generate some more accurate real game data, I'd appreciate your help running some microed inti vs swiftie fights.
Shockers are far from useless, but they need a little love certainly.
@Dragun101 According to my tables ASF beat inties efficiently (without micro), not factoring in the additional range, speed, turn rates, etc of the ASF.
@Valki Nice suggestion! I can see that being quite nice against units especially if the DOT has a long duration. However that will mean Shockers will become almost completely unable to kill a moving ACU.
@harzer99 Thank you for the reading material. I shall read it (time permitting). A lot of people say "calculations are over rated and real game data is all that matters". However people also say "you can't make claims without data" & naysay any argument lacking data/tables. Thus you can't move the discussion forward once people say such things.
Also to all people present, adding a replay link to a test game where you demonstrate your points (probably with a partner to micro the other army) would help visualise the facts.
Some testing on Interceptors and ASF. Similar to the Interceptor vs Swift Wind test replay I made. https://replay.faforever.com/13953178
Results: Interceptors won 3/10 times. Tested with small and medium scale air fights.
@arma473 Good point about the air staging facilities. However, you must win the (mass equivalent) fight in order to repair aircraft.

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Air fights often end with one side retreating. It doesn't always go on until every single plane is dead. If you have ASFs against interceptors, you can retreat whenever you want, especially if you can fly back to some flak. The interceptors don't want to fight ASFs over a flak.

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I'll have some time tomorrow afternoon before the dark heart tourney if you want to test it to support your claims 🙂

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I can't remember the replay it was on but when I did some testing of asfs vs inties with similar mass amounts (basic testing in cheat mode without any micro) the ASFs mass for mass were a bit better than the same mass in inties, and ontop of that they have far better speed and flack.

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flack protection i meant

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So @Arran I've been doing those tests with someone else https://replay.faforever.com/14013744

So I started with 5 swifties vs 20 inties, which is balanced costs more or less (1175 M / 33,7k E / 9k BP // VS // 1000 M / 45k E / 10k BP) and got crushed, then moved to 6-7-10 swifties to see what happens.

Conclusion N°1 : micro is the most relevant factor (unsurprisingly). I lost most of my fights cause grimplex just turned better and shot with his planes more often.
Conclusion N°2 : you can hit and run. I attempted this at fight n°2, instead of making a circle, i just fly into the ennemy planes and fly away. I don't lose any swifties while he loses a few. This can certainly be improved (i could have taken a better engagement) but in theory i could repair them and fight again later.
Conclusion n°3 : in prolonged fights with even micro, swifties do turn faster and can end up right behind the ennemy planes, where they can't shoot back (around 6min in the replay we take 1 or 2 of those fights).

Overall : i'd need more tests to be sure ( with better micro from my part ..), but as you said, swifties are not mass efficient at all against inties. You can find some ways to get an even fight, but you can't win convincingly mass for mass.
That being said, they are still faster which truely helps in every situation, and allow you to pick the fight you want and avoid the ones you don't want to take.

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@Auricocorico excellent points across the board on how to use Swift Winds. I was honestly quite presently surprised about the "fly into then disengage" maneuver! I'll be sure to test it's effectiveness in my next few ladder games. Main point I'll be investigating is if the Swift Winds can survive 2 passes (into and back) rather than one (into then away). This will be important because even on a 10x10 map it might be hard to avoid both ground-to-air fire and the enemy interceptors without passing through the interceptors on a path back into your base.
As you play Aeon better than me (judging by first hand experience!), what are your thoughts on the Shocker points made in the opening post?

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I think that's a good idea to give it +50. It's the kind of subtul buff where you can clearly see the consequences ( the ability to 2-hit sera pgen and mexes). It's clear, and doesn't break much balance imo, mostly cause few people will actually make use of that in games (air players in teamgames, high rated player with good knowledge of the game).

Now, does it NEED a buff right now ? I don't know. Yes the unit feels weaker than other bombers, but Aeon is generally considered to have too many good things going for them atm, so idk if the balance team would be able to justify another aeon buff.

Besides, I have the feeling that the value of 3450 damage was exactly set to avoid the Shocker to 2 hit seraphim T3 Mex and Power. I guess that's part of "seraphim have tanky buildings" in general.