Why I think T3 air is badly designed

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This isn't a balance discussion because the problem isn't balance, it's fundamental game design decisions. I think T3 air is just fundamentally broken in it's implementation. The primary reason is that there is only one unit that counters T3 air, namely the ASF. It all just comes down to building as many ASF as possible. Strat bombers are only countered by T3 air as well, If you don't have T3 air when a strat is out you basically lost the game, there really is no equivalent for land and sea, lower tier units there remain at least somewhat effective. The dominance of T3 air drowns out investment in T2 air because all investment there is undone as soon as T3 hits the air. Yes you can counter T3 air but it all gets funnelled into one solution: Make more ASF yourself. I think it leads to one dimensional play. Sure there will always be some strategy about when and where to engage but it will always be limited.

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Maybe make a sam?

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Strats can also be somewhat countered by SAMs, cruisers, aircraft carriers, mobile SAMs, and mass static flak (like 10-20 flaks in one place). Even if you have air superiority, it can be good to have some SAM sites in the late game rather than always relying on ASF only. With enough SAMs between you and the enemy, sending in strats is near impossible, especially if you also have ASF.

T2 air is not obsolete once ASF come out. If you have air superiority, you can use T2 air units to do a lot of damage to your opponent. The only T2 air unit that is obsoleted is the swift wind. So the swift wind has a special role, before T3 air comes up, it can give air superiority, something no other faction has. Lots of T2 units are obsoleted once T3 comes out. Pillars and mongeese generally aren't worth making once the other side has titans or loyalists.

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@exselsior Yes, I forgot to mention sams are somewhat effective, but can just be bypassed in a strat rush.

If you have air superiority

Which you get by spamming t3 air again.....

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@ftxcommando said in **Platinum question**:

No idea what a reasonable amount of fuel is and what the level of buff it allows would be, but in general I’d rather not convert air into land-like balance where you take away the thing that makes it unique. All I want from air balance is some sort of AOE t3 fighter to disincentivize asf blobs and introduce some level of counterplay in late air.

Just focus on this and nothing else until it is implemented to some degree.

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Right that's why you scout to know if a rush is coming. Even if you can't get asf in time to counter it, you can get a sam in a base or two to counter it. Strats are expensive, strat rushes are high risk high reward plays. Yes a strat rush can end the game, but only if there's a big air player skill gap or if enemy air player spent too much time at t2.

Air is a bit weird and hard to balance. Things like harb/percy/brick/oothum drops can be just as devastating to a single player but since they move more slowly they generally don't have the same kind of potential full team impact, especially since they can be overcharged by ACUs. The thing here though is that a single sam kills a strat. Strats take a large amount of attention and micro to use effectively and there are very few people in the game who can make a strat without it crushing their ability to keep progressing their main base while microing strats/asf/scouts.

Also, a single t2 shield hard counters a strat rush.

@Valki An AOE asf would result in air battles coming down to who can best manage a lot of small groups of air units unless you mean just a small amount of aoe and not some crazy flying flak and would completely force the use of sams instead of relying on air control.

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@exselsior said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

@Valki An AOE asf would result in air battles coming down to who can best manage a lot of small groups of air units unless you mean just a small amount of aoe and not some crazy flying flak and would completely force the use of sams instead of relying on air control.

I'm not 100% sure what @FtXCommando meant, I hope he gets here soon to speak for himself, but I think he meant a new air unit that does splash and counters ASF. I would see either option as an improvement though.

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An area-of-effect fighter would be closer to a restorer except with low HP. The whole point of it is to be used against massive clumps of air units while being crushed by small groups of ASFs flying in.

Air balance itself it totally fine, it's just the lack of counterplay surrounding the late t3 air stage that needs to be worked on. If some sort of unit that encourages people to not just keep their asf in one giant group exists, then air has a lot more unit macro play going on.

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Perhaps a T3 flak (rather than SAM) would be an idea. I can't think of any real world analogy to an airborne AOE platform, but there are certainly many ground based ones.

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Creating an air based counter to asf means sams reign supreme in the late game. Asf blobs are useful as meat shields for strats and t4 air units, now that just makes it so that those units are virtually useless if enemy has sams and are taking away options to end the game. Not to mention a unit that kills asf blobs would also wreck a group of strats coming in.

Having asf + scouts + strats in a blob isn't that different than having t3 bots + mobile shields + aa + sniper bots or whatever, there are just typically more asf because they're relatively cheap.

The issue with asf is that you can go into a fight with 200 asf vs 190 asf, both be even in micro skill, and then the guy with 200 somehow ends the fight with 150 left and the other guy 0.

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@valki said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

@ftxcommando said in **Platinum question**:

All I want from air balance is some sort of AOE t3 fighter to disincentivize asf blobs and introduce some level of counterplay in late air.

Just focus on this and nothing else until it is implemented to some degree.

Brainstorming time:

Lets call those new AoE units ADF (Air Defense Fighters)

ADF:

  • strong AOE against air (but only single hits agianst big targets)

Required outcome (mass for mass):

  • ADF beats ASF decisively
  • vs Anti-Ground Air (Bombers, EXPs), ASF beats ADF decisively (otherwise there is no reason to build ASF)
  • any other AA unit (ground, EXPs) is much more effective vs ADF than they are now vs ASF (otherwise you can just mix EXP and ADF to get unbeatable combo)

The gound/navy AA specifically needs to be good at killing ADF, otherwise ADF become the new ASF.

How do you achieve that without having some special kind of resistance?

  • make ADF fly lower to ground than ASF, to make T2 flak to hit ADF
  • or make ADF slower (but not too much because you want to be able to punish ASFs that are out of position)
  • make ADF high cost, high value units, so that SAMs do no overkill ADF as much as ASF

The alternative, just giving ASF AoE without adding another unit would imo mean that there are just diminishing returns to clumping units, so it would either end up in a "who can spread-out-micro their units the best" contest, or just lead to people only building just enough to defend against bombers and never more, which is kinda not very interesting?

But even that would already be better than current ASF.

Edit:
In fact you could mix both ideas in the name of faction diversity.

  • UEF and Seraphim get ADF as described
  • For Cybran, they get AoE on ASF (no additonal unit)
  • For Aeon, tweak restorers (add AoE, make faster) to take on role of ADF in addition to being a gunship
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@katharsas said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

Required outcome (mass for mass):

  • ADF beats ASF decisively
  • vs Anti-Ground Air (Bombers, EXPs), ASF beats ADF decisively (otherwise there is no reason to build ASF)

I'm not sure how that would be possible at all unless you just make them slow, and even then that's not too much of a problem late game you just spread them out a bit. If you have a flak that can kill moving clumps of asf, it'll necessarily kill groups of other even slower moving air targets

  • any other AA unit (ground, EXPs) is much more effective vs ADF than they are now vs ASF (otherwise you can just mix EXP and ADF to get unbeatable combo)

The gound/navy AA specifically needs to be good at killing ADF, otherwise ADF become the new ASF.

How do you achieve that without having some special kind of resistance?

  • make ADF fly lower to ground than ASF, to make T2 flak to hit ADF
  • or make ADF slower (but not too much because you want to be able to punish ASFs that are out of position)
  • make ADF high cost, high value units, so that SAMs do no overkill ADF as much as ASF

Any of these things except the last one mean you just use a small amount of asf to crush them and we're back to square 1 with extra steps which is pointless. How does the last one increase their vulnerability to aa?

The alternative, just giving ASF AoE without adding another unit would imo mean that there are just diminishing returns to clumping units, so it would either end up in a "who can spread-out-micro their units the best" contest, or just lead to people only building just enough to defend against bombers and never more, which is kinda not very interesting?

But even that would already be better than current ASF.

Late game air battles are now decided by who has the higher peak apm and can manage more small groups of units at once. In what way is this an improvement other than now I can do really troll builds on airslots and still beat a good number of people?

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Late game air is not decided by peak APM, creating tight ASF groups is quite easy if you practice it a bit. Late game air just requires you to react immediatly when somebody is trying to snipe your teammates, that is different from APM. Rest of the time you just participate in game enders while adding air factories to your grid.

The issue with asf is that you can go into a fight with 200 asf vs 190 asf, both be even in micro skill, and then the guy with 200 somehow ends the fight with 150 left and the other guy 0.

Dont think this is true, if both players manage to get somewhat behind each others ASFs they will loose units at a somewhat equal rate. What you describe only happens because ASF react with a lot of delay, so it is kind of hard to control their behaviour, but not impossible. Therefore its easy for one of the players to fuck it up.

The point of the AoE changes is that you should have to make a strategic decision which kind of air to produce based on game situation, instead of just competing for creating the bigger ASF cloud than your opponent. Micro is of course going to be possible and important, just like it is important in land and even somewhat navy.

ASD would hopefully not crush ASF, but if they do we would have to add special defense bonus against ASF to ADF. Something like a forward facing shield that does not protect against shots from the bottom might work maybe.

About overkill of SAMs:
Currently SAMS kill way less ASF then they should be if we go purely by DPS numbers. This is fine because SAMs are balanced with this in mind, but they don't do close to full DPS to a ASD cloud that moves by, because they shoot way too many missiles at the same target, and missiles are quire slow, so when the target dies there are already a bunch of missiles in the air that are gonna loose the dead target and be useless.

By giving ADF more value per unit, you would reduce overkill percentage, because SAMs need to switch target less often.

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With regards to the mass-for-mass efficiency of ADF vs ASF, I don't really think it needs to hold true. You likely need to make each ADF fighter unique to each faction due to how each faction's ASF output damage, but the point would be that it allows for asf to kill singular fighters quicker without doing "useless" damage by leaving ASF on 10 hp and requiring yet another shot anyway.

Something easy is the UEF ASF since it does 400 damage in a single volley basically. ASFs range from 2450 to 2600 HP. The goal should be to at least allow UEF ASFs to kill in 6 volleys rather than 7, meaning the UEF ADF needs to do at least 200 damage over some large area.

Now ADF fighters would also have a significant reload time, meaning that if you just spam them and hope to crush ASF, it would only work if the enemy flies a gigantic blob of ASF at you and you get to freely do the necessary damage. However, if the enemy just sends 3 ASF followed by another 5 or something similar, then you just get crushed no problem.

Likewise if they have low hp and low speed, it is really difficult to just lose a few and then go and replace them from your air grid. Air becomes a lot more about sniping the ADF fighters to then allow your own ADF fighters + your own ASF to win a crushing victory rather than just building up giant blobs of ASF until an air win is necessary to win.

You can even make ADF fighters pretty expensive so sniping them in general is just a big win for the other guy.

All of this causes smaller groups of ASF to serve some purpose rather than just being easy targets to kill with your own giant blob. A successful small ASF attack could be what allows 100 ASF to beat 130 ASF or cause the 130 ASF to retreat while you get control of more of the map.

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@katharsas said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

Late game air is not decided by peak APM, creating tight ASF groups is quite easy if you practice it a bit. Late game air just requires you to react immediatly when somebody is trying to snipe your teammates, that is different from APM. Rest of the time you just participate in game enders while adding air factories to your grid.

Correct current late game air is not dictated by apm, it's numbers + micro. Someone with a below average apm could beat an apm god on air micro with how it is now. I'm talking about your suggestion where it ends up being a who can spread out their air best micro. That's highly apm intensive and very tedious micro.

The issue with asf is that you can go into a fight with 200 asf vs 190 asf, both be even in micro skill, and then the guy with 200 somehow ends the fight with 150 left and the other guy 0.

Dont think this is true, if both players manage to get somewhat behind each others ASFs they will loose units at a somewhat equal rate. What you describe only happens because ASF react with a lot of delay, so it is kind of hard to control their behaviour, but not impossible. Therefore its easy for one of the players to fuck it up.

I play entirely too much mid to high level Seton's. While it doesn't happen all the time it happens very often. It's rare when you end a fight with both players having roughly the same amount left over at the end or one player has say 10 out of 200 left at the end. I'm not talking about fights where you're microing the units, I'm talking about fights that are large enough where the correct micro is to just hit stop when they engage.

The point of the AoE changes is that you should have to make a strategic decision which kind of air to produce based on game situation, instead of just competing for creating the bigger ASF cloud than your opponent. Micro is of course going to be possible and important, just like it is important in land and even somewhat navy.

What this will do in practice is cause a new air meta where you mix in ADF with your asf and then have a micro war to see who can snipe the others ADF faster and then win with ASF. Because Air Superiority Fighters are just that, meant to get air superiority. Their use is analogous to fighter planes in WW2 for instance. A unit to counter them by definition just becomes the new ASF.

About overkill of SAMs:
Currently SAMS kill way less ASF then they should be if we go purely by DPS numbers. This is fine because SAMs are balanced with this in mind, but they don't do close to full DPS to a ASD cloud that moves by, because they shoot way too many missiles at the same target, and missiles are quire slow, so when the target dies there are already a bunch of missiles in the air that are gonna loose the dead target and be useless.

By giving ADF more value per unit, you would reduce overkill percentage, because SAMs need to switch target less often.

Fair point but doesn't really change anything. If people hate asf blobs this much have you tried making some mobile flaks? You know, the unit already in the game and already designed to kill groups of air units or slow moving targets? Mobile flak wrecks mismanaged ASF blobs. Static flak too.

All this is doing in my opinion is recreating the original problem, but now with more steps.

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Introducing Area of Effect (AOE) to ASF means their AOE needs to be quite big, or we run into this issue:

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I can vouch for this. With SCTA I am finding due to hitboxss for air units being at base 1.6.

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Also, a single t2 shield hard counters a strat rush.
You can hover under the shield with strat lol

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@exselsior said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

Creating an air based counter to asf means sams reign supreme in the late game. Asf blobs are useful as meat shields for strats and t4 air units, now that just makes it so that those units are virtually useless if enemy has sams and are taking away options to end the game. Not to mention a unit that kills asf blobs would also wreck a group of strats coming in.

You do realise that if your opponent is fully coverd in sams than it means he spend a lot on it and the game just progress into even later stage at the game. Its like asking for still having an option to kill acu with mantis on t2 or t3 stage.

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About overkill of SAMs:
Currently SAMS kill way less ASF then they should be if we go purely by DPS numbers. This is fine because SAMs are balanced with this in mind, but they don't do close to full DPS to a ASD cloud that moves by, because they shoot way too many missiles at the same target, and missiles are quire slow, so when the target dies there are already a bunch of missiles in the air that are gonna loose the dead target and be useless.

I disagree on this part. Could it be that you have not seen how sams do extremely good to blobs and perhaps you have yet to witness a sera sam. Sera sam is such a beast.