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