Fire beetle balance suggestion

“beetles bad, pls fix”. These words from the first balance suggestion on the new forum so eloquently describe our collective experience with the Cybran T2 mobile bomb, the fire beetle. Think back, when was the last time you’ve seen a fire beetle? For me, it would be in a Heaven video from years ago, where Tokyto dropped some fire beetles to snipe an ACU. Since then, I don’t think I’ve seen it at all. It’s clear that this unit is being relegated to the ash heaps of history. Here’s my suggestion for what to do to fix it.


New toggleable ability: ambush. Once toggled, the fire beetle may not move; its vision radius increases from 24 -> 45 (radar range of the mole); and it gains stealth.

If this ability is toggled on, it will not get selected by click/drag boxes or select all army hotkeys in the same fashion as a selen with cloak toggled on.

The effect is to create a new role for the fire beetle. An enterprising commander can set up fire beetles ambushes in strategic locations and use beetles as landmines. Perhaps the enemy ACU will head in that direction. Perhaps a tightly clumped army must pass through that location. Other use cases are just as exciting. The enemy army could pass by the fire beetles, which can then continue to advance into undefended enemy territory. The enemy commander could spot the beetles, but then you’d react by putting them on ambush mode, and the enemy commander would have to camp the beetles with some units with radar coverage (to catch them once they start moving). Anyone who has watched StarCraft II knows the exciting moments a well placed baneling landmine can create.

If you actually look at it closely, this is not a big change. Cybran could already pair deceivers with fire beetles for cloak+stealth on the fire beetles for similar effect. The big impact this change should have is to provide a simple and clear use case – move the unit to a spot, press a button, and wait. The ability provides immediate visual feedback – a larger vision radius and sound effect. Not being selected with other units once the fire beetle is in position should also be a nice QOL addition. A new fresh and exciting ability might just get people to build the fire beetle.

Also, btw, beetles don’t target enemy beetles. Beetles also cannot do damage to enemy beetles. Pls fix.

@archsimkat said in Fire beetle balance suggestion:

Also, btw, beetles don’t target enemy beetles. Beetles also cannot do damage to enemy beetles. Pls fix.

beetles can target enemy beetles, for the other issue it is already fixed and will be pushed in the next game patch.

This just turns beetles into worse PDs. There's an easy way to fix beetles: get rid of gimmicks, bump up the damage and make the explosion deal damage over time.

There is no role for the firebeetle in the Cybran arsenal. For early snipes and raids they have jesters. For ambushing armies they have deceivers and normal land units. They have renegades with high aoe for anti-army, sniping ringed mexes, killing lots of engineers, etc. They have corsairs for sniping units and pgens. They have TML-4, the fasted firing and flying TML that also splits into 4 missiles, for sniping structures or anything you can hit with it. They even have a cloaked and stealthed laser ACU for doing whatever with. Anything you want to do, Cybran already has a better tool for it than the firebeetle.

The only thing fireebeetles do is confuse noobs who don't understand how cloak and stealth work, or remember them actually being good some time in ancient history. Nobody else ever uses them.

Despite firebeetles being the most pointless unit in the game, they get the most attention from everyone. Keyser, the Game Councillor and the most intelligent Frenchman in the entire FAF community, has spent most of his adult life rebalancing firebeetles. Each balance patch totally changes the unit to do something even more bizarre and even more useless.

The only sensible thing to do is remove them from the game so that so many great minds are not doomed to eternally rebalance them and talk about them on the forums. It might also be possible to reskin them and give them to another faction that doesn't already have superior units in every possible role.

Cybrans have weakest arty drops, since they have a 10 slot T2 transport and T1 arty that's bad against buildings. Beetles cover that role, and that's not something replaced by T2 air, since zthuee drops happen despite nothas being excellent versus buildings.

@ThomasHiatt said in Fire beetle balance suggestion:

There is no role for the firebeetle in the Cybran arsenal.

I don't know. I have seen them used effectively when mixed in with t1 or t2 spam, especially on ladder or games where the ACU is likely up front. If the enemy ACU gets too close, the beetles can move in. They are an early game high alpha unit. You can also use them to snipe mexes without going air, especially now that they are cloaked.

EDIT: Honestly, looking at their mass cost, they could even be a late game high alpha unit. 1100 damage for 190 mass? That's about 1/8 the cost per alpha strike damage of a strat bomber (2750 damage for 2100 mass). Loading up a few beetles and a mobile stealth into a transport and dropping them around the map to snipe mexes or power would be much more efficient than a strat, and can be done at t2.

I think a cool idea would be to have fire beetles be able to explode multiple times.

@MazorNoob I don't think giving fire beetles damage over time (DoT) fits thematically. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think a single thing in the Cybran arsenal deals DoT. If you make a change I think it has to make sense and be consistent with the faction – e.g., giving the Fervor DoT would make thematic sense since its higher tier cousins (miasma, serenity, emissary) all deal DoT. Just my 2 cents.

@ThomasHiatt Your argument that fire beetles are pointless or extremely niche, which is absolutely the case by design, and therefore should be removed is not a bad one, and it's one that other RTS games have taken. However, if you take this argument and apply it more broadly I think you'll find that you will end up removing a lot of units from the game. When was the last time you saw the T2 static stealth generator being built? It's probably just as rare as the fire beetle, but when you do see it, it's being built for a stealth TML base behind the air player on Setons and singlehandedly wins the game.

I think it's fine to have niche units that only fulfil a very specific purpose and only appear very rarely. It makes it all the more special when they do. If you compare this game to a standard RTS game like starcraft or a CNC game, one of the key defining features of this game is the sheer quantity of options in terms of units and strategies you have. I think if you go down the road of removing units that don't see much play or removing units because they confuse noobs, you'll get a game that's more like supcom 2.

I fail to see how 190 mass for 1100 damage is good at all? 190 mass worth of medusas do 1150 damage in a single volley, and they are just a t1 unit that doesn't require a T2 HQ to produce. 190 mass worth of anything will probably do more than 1100 damage during its lifetime. I don't see how firebeetles are good for killing mexes either since it takes 2-3 of them to kill one t2 mex and they probably need to be dropped there with a transport. You are pretty much always better off dropping medusa to snipe stuff, even if they are the worst arty for the job, since they do more damage in just a single volley and will likely be able to fire multiple volleys.

This is all based on the current state of the firebeetle, which does very little damage, but if it were buffed to do a lot more damage then it would just be back to the old beetles that were supposedly op before I started playing FAF. I believe that anything that makes the firebeetle a better choice than TML, arty drops, corsairs, or gunships will inevitably make the firebeetle overpowered because those units are already very good.

Static stealth generators have a pretty clear role of stealthing things (it is in the name). There is nothing else in the game that provides that role. It is mostly useless due to the way fog of war and stealth work, but it is still a unique and occasionally useful ability. Firebeetles do have some roles as well, they are just so outclassed by other units that do the same role that they are pointless. I'm very skeptical that they could ever be a good choice in the Cybran arsenal while also being balanced and fun to play against.

I don’t think anyone wants to use a beetle to snipe a t2 mex, it’s just so much fucking around for no real benefit. People will only use beetles if they’re an ACU snipe tool because that’s flashy and cool and makes your 45 year old brain receive enough dopamine to last you through the rest of the day.

Why not give the beetles a similar active ability to the new loyalists where they gain a speed boost and explode at the end of the duration/on death? You could even let their hp drain to 0 similar to a very common “overclock” function present in video games across multiple genres.

If you do that, people have a skill move to perform that relies on your ability rather than waiting on an enemy mistake, allows proper counterplay because you can make an escape rather than “you didn’t scout here so you lose,” and is actually something exciting to see? Just a thought. I personally don’t like meme mines, I think even the transport ctrlk abuse was more fun then that.

@archsimkat Most cybran torpedoes deal damage over time. Seraphim have no DoT either and UEF only have T1 and T2 bombers, so I don't see what the big deal with "thematic consistency" is.

@ThomasHiatt DoT fixes the main issue with fire beetles, that of ACU snipes, while keeping them good against bases and buildings.

@biass Another ability nobody ever uses? Why does everyone try to fix beetles by piling on more micro gimmicks? Also, the beetles were pretty nice when a single one could kill a T2 mex - load up a deceiver, a beetle and 2 engies and you can steal 1k+ mass before enemy air deals with you.

I would settle that they do increased dmg to buildings so that i can at least one shot t2 mexes with like two beetles or killing a pd's, something along those lines since i think it would be a fair use for such unit.

Analyze, Adapt, Overcome...

Been saying it for 5 years and I will say it again:

1: There is no balanced state for Firebeetles to be designed around the old snipe role. It simple isn't possible, there is no combination of stats which will make them neither OP nor UP.

2: A unit's role must be intuitive as well as balanced. The only available role for Firebeetles in this game that has even a slight chance of being balanced is as a landmine. Far as I can tell, 90% of the resistance to doing this is because the game has no landmines and the FAF community reaches actual retardation levels of complete stubborn stupidity when it comes to trying new things.

3: If it is not turned into a landmine, the best option left is to remove it from the game. There is no other option for the unit's concept which doesn't lead to it being either obnoxious or unused.

i want a Fire Beetle that infects buildings and limit the buildings' build queues to 5 and disable the repeat feature.

this would make it so meme, it would be fun to use!
it would trigger instant ctrl+k actions. ^^

nice ghetto streams:

Perhaps if a beetle targets a building, it should have a different death weapon--one that does more damage, but has much much much less area of effect. Against units it would have a broad AOE and also have an emp effect, but against buildings it would deal savage damage. And because the AOE would be smaller, I think that makes it less likely the damage would be absorbed by shields.

We could also lower the damage and increase the AOE for the anti-unit weapon. We would want the AOE to be big enough that if a transport dies carrying beetles, it would damage units on the ground. A T2 transport loaded with 10 fire beetles should be a viable weapon against T3 bots, you would just ctrl-k the transport when the beetles are overhead.

Suppose we made this change: decrease their damage to 850, increase their damage radius to 8 (from 6), and add a separate death weapon with 2 damage radius (same as TML) and 2500 damage (enough to one-shot UEF t2 economic structures). For 1830 mass you could fly a transport with 10 fire beetles over some percies and kill them. Or you could drop 10 beetles into an enemy base and kill some T3 pgens.

Or perhaps set their anti-building special attack damage lower like 1700, so it takes 2 beetles to kill any faction's eco structures, or 1800 so they can one-shot cybran eco structures but everyone else takes 2 beetles (since everyone knows we need to nerf cybran).

Also, since they would be more dangerous (with bigger AOE and with a special anti-building weapon) their HP should be lowered slightly, maybe to 270 (same as a mantis, that would also make it easy for players to understand how much firepower it takes to quickly kill 1)

They would be effective against buildings OR against massed units. They wouldn't be great at sniping ACUs (because they would use the anti-unit death weapon) but two transports full of beetles could be ctrl-Ked over an ACU to deal 17k damage. Flak should deal effectively with beetles on transports (it would kill beetles about as quickly as it kills out-of-fuel interceptors, because they would be moving at similar speeds)

It would also let people use a transport carrying 2 beetles as a way to shoot down enemy transports

It would be viable to put beetles on stingers

If they don't already, beetles should have high target priority from other units

This would dramatically increase the number of ways that you could use beetles. I have no idea if this would make them overpowered. Obviously the balance could be fine-tuned from there.

Last time balance team reworked it I suggested to redus its damage to symbolic 100, but add EMP with decent AOE to this unit.

This way you can use Fire Beetles:

  1. Stun groups of enemy units or PDs when getting in close range with your army
  2. Save units on retreat. For example avoid enemy units to catch Hoplites

Instead of killing something with Fire Beetle you stun it and kill with something else. No sniping ACU or eco structures, only useful against units and PDs.

How do I link youtube on this forum?

May as well just keep things as it is. It's more fun without Fire Beetles right?

Maybe it could be useless but awesome. Like:

  • Make the model fairly large.
  • Make it extremely slow.
  • Cannot be loaded on a transport.
  • Huge damage in a large AOE.
  • Impractically expensive. Low HP. Does friendly fire.

So pretty useless... but the ultimate lulz if you manage to use it successfully.

@IceDreamer said in Fire beetle balance suggestion:

There is no balanced state for Firebeetles to be designed around the old snipe role. It simple isn't possible, there is no combination of stats which will make them neither OP nor UP.

You are essentially saying there is no balanced state for a one-use weapon... we really can't go there without talking about mercies.

So why do mercies work or not work when firebeetles are just "broken pls delete." ?

@Pearl12 This is a very good point, glad you asked.

The answer is that they very nearly don't. Mercies were a hugely troublesome unit. Hugely. They were UP then OP then UP then OP, back and forth through a lot of changes. I'd argue that, even today, they aren't great. They do seem to be largely balanced, though.

  • Aeon don't have a T2 Bomber. The Mercy somewhat makes up for this role in a lackluster way, but it is a nonzero influence. As has been mentioned many times, this is untrue for the Firebeetle: The Cybrans have every role filled already, they are hugely flexible, and anything you want to do with a beetle can be accomplished by another unit. This is crucial. For Mercies, there's no real alternative, so its state of balance is relative to "How good is it relative to the enemy defense?", but for beetles the question is "How good is it relative to Cybran's own alternatives?". So, if one assumes that we want all the other units to be balanced as well, and that they are easier to get the balance right because they aren't so niche, then beetles are either better than the alternatives, and therefore OP by definition, or worse, and UP by definition.

  • Mercies are air units. This means that much of the counterplay is also in the air, which means the primary response in an "Oh shit, Mercies" situation is flexible and fast-moving. This makes it harder for them to be devastatingly, frustratingly OP, as long as they have negligible HP. From the defending player's point of view, there's almost always counterplay available. They can respond. There's less feelbad. This doesn't apply to beetles, because land units are so much slower and have to deal with pathfinding. If you get caught unawares there's basically nothing you can do, at all. Additionally, we can't solve this the same way as the Mercy (Give them abominable HP) because they are a land unit too! Mercies work at all because the speed allows them to get into position against a really-caught-by-surprise enemy when you play it right. This cannot work for beetles because you can't sensibly have them move that fast, so they need more HP to survive chance encounters. It's all bloody weird.

  • Beetles can be loaded onto transports. Mercies can't. Back when they did a lot of damage, the real use of them was as a big-ass flying bomb. The transport grants them speed and durability. It was hugely feelbad to get caught out by, counterplay was tough. To make it require enough effort to pull off that counterplay seemed reasonable, the beetles had to be nerfed so hard they became useless.

Basically, it just doesn't work. Mercies basically don't work. Personally I'm in favour of removing both if it came to it, but Mercies have just enough differences that it kinda works. I do not believe the same is possible for beetles.