Why I think T3 air is badly designed

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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:

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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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.

Iā€™m a shitty 1k Global. Any balance or gameplay suggestions should be understood or taken as such.

Project Head and current Owner/Manager of SCTA Project

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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.

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@jip So, it seems the OP was correct and T3 air is indeed badly designed, mainly because ASF can become invulnerable to sams by flying in a straight line šŸ‘…

Was this updated in the most recent patch? I see the github issue is still "open" so I assume it isn't.

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That was not part of the patch, afaik it has been in the game since GPG.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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@fruitien00b said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

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

Yes and I can count on one hand the amount of times I've seen that actually be pulled off after a ridiculous number of games played/watched, and if there's any aa present this kills the strat.

@fruitien00b said in Why I think T3 air is badly designed:

@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.

Not really. It doesn't take that many sams (if well placed) to effectively deny strat attacks with a single strat on most team game maps, and building a lot of sams before starting game enders on high eco team game maps is fairly standard practice anyway in the late game. Perhaps ladder is different, but in ladder there are other issues if you're losing to a strat that don't have much to do with t3 air being badly designed. I see t3 gunships end high level ladder games that make it to t3 air more than strats anyway I think.

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Im quiet a low skilled player, so may opinion may not be counted.
But if we fantasy some.

How about SLOT-BASED ASF?
T2 air factory can be upgraded to ASF-base. It supports, lets say 16 ASFs, build it automatically, like drones and support\repair it.
What we can get from it?
Lost air can be comebacked fast.
But as winner's ASFs survived and can be docked to base very fast - they save veteranacy.
Winner in most cases have more bases and so it ASF cap still higher.
Also - air carriers\CZAR\Atlantis may also work as ASF base, increase comeback potential for land\naval players.

PS it opens way to some interesting ways to play with fuel and fuel-games.

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I think INTIS are capable of killing a T3bomber, all you need is 50-80 of them and a good engage turn

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

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.

There were nuclear A2A missiles. And normal AA missiles are technically AOE

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

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.

This is a common feature of war, though exaggerated in this instance. It's also probably why the main winning strat is "out build enemy."
https://youtu.be/wpjxWBwLkIE

You must deceive the enemy, sometimes your allies, but you must always deceive yourself!

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Would an option be homing missiles?

Assuming: ASF is standardized on gun type weapons.
Give them:
Anti missile flares.
A Secondary of AOE homing missiles in a limited supply, like TML. Restockable at air staging. Toggleable fire at will feature like overcharge.

The flares can make a missile not hit your plane, but a missed missile still explodes, making it more effective against blobs than small squads.

Other idea:

Fire control tower you can build and 'assist' defensive buildings to, tower controls target acquisition and can toggle from focus fire to spread fire, allocating targets to lessen overkill and lost missiles. Gives a good boost, make it like a radar tower, juicy tactical target. EMP volatile when it's killed, power drain. Spitballing here.

You must deceive the enemy, sometimes your allies, but you must always deceive yourself!

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Normal AA missiles, in RL and in-game, are not AOE. I mean - yes - they explode - but we're talking about an AOE radius large enough to impact other nearby aircraft - which is a very large difference. There's a good reason that flak style AA weapons are still in use today - along with SAM - and there are excellent reasons why aircraft are generally NOT equipped with flak style weapons for A2A combat, but instead have A2A missiles or simple guns/cannon. (Good thing no one has mentioned enabling 'damage friendly' for flak weapons yet).

Flak weapons are, by definition, considerably simpler, more robust, easier to operate, cheaper - but decidedly less accurate, than SAM - and more well suited to area denial. This makes them ideal for cluster formations (read: gunships) and other low level air threats.

Speaking directly to the original topic: Air units are simply too plentiful and easily replaced - no one thinks about using them carefully.

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@sprouto This isn't the place to delve into IRL weapon deployments, but now I gotta google who uses flak still. I'm gonna be up all night. HOW WILL I PLAY FAF NOW!?

Anyway, we can't let reality get in the WAY of how we the community build our game (It's ours now, fuck Square), we should have reality INFORM our creativity in building an experience for people of all skill levels.

Anyway, on your point, they do get quite plentiful, but barring (for now) making some equivalent airborne SACU combat unit named "Maverick" we should see if we can make simple changes that deepen the air game a bit.

On that note, has anyone made a mod to give ASF AOE damage?

You must deceive the enemy, sometimes your allies, but you must always deceive yourself!