Aeon T1 addition: heavy tank

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Status

This opening post has been kept up to date with changes to the proposal.

Status is abandoned, for the following reasons:

  • it's a big change to Aeon T1 balance, and there isn't much appetite for that
  • "if you give access to a normal tank, you wouldn't make aurora anymore" - @Auricocorico
  • an additional unit at the T1 land stage is unwanted complexity (also affecting things like key-bindings)

Summary

Give Aeon a new T1 unit: a heavy tank, which has the same range as other T1 tanks (18), similar DPS-per-mass-cost, the speed of the Aurora (3), while being 20-30% more expensive and having a similar HP bonus over other tanks (so 350-400; some tuning needed to get even trades in tank groups of even cost).

Given the above, rebalance Aurora a little: lower DPS, possibly a little more range, possibly a little more speed.

(Possibly also this impacts Flare balance but this is beyond me.)

Motivation

Yes, Aeon is balanced reasonably well for high-level players, though I believe it's still under-represented in tournaments. A greater problem is that Aeon is very widely hated amongst low-to-medium level players since, at the most import stage (T1 land), it plays differently. As a consequence fewer low-to-mid level players learn Aeon and further these players have less experience playing against Aeon.

Edit: given the comments below, I think this section needs expanding:

  1. The Aurora is good, but has some weaknesses. Specifically, defending vs other tanks in small numbers. As Turin points out below, this isn't strictly true — if the player has good micro and adequate attention. Personally I find the requirement of good micro unfair in what is first and foremost a strategy game.
  2. The Aurora is too good in certain situations when well microed, particularly when a "meatshield" is available (ACU or Obsidian). It has the same cost and DPS as any other tank yet 44% more range. In my opinion this is far too much DPS considering the range; however, one cannot simply decrease the DPS when the Aurora is the main T1 tank, thus a compromise: keep the Aurora as a "sniper tank" but add a new tank for the actual tank role.
  3. "No i think it's all about their weakness to air, and all the situation that comes with it being very easy to kill : one aurora can die to one micro'd lab, it can't raid or counter ennemy raids, you can't shift-g or overrun an ACU with them, and since you have to rely on your ACU to tank the damage, you're very at risk of being overrun." - @Auricocorico

Details

The T1 tank is a very important unit, and has multiple uses:

  • defending expanding engineers against early LABs
  • raiding in small numbers (as an alternative to LABs or by breaking off part of an army)
  • attacking/defending a position early in small numbers
  • attacking/defending as part of a larger army, often with support (an ACU, a T1 PD to fall back to, bombers, or a small number of T2 units)

Now, the Aurora has longer range than other T1 tanks for diversity, and several other differences almost directly as a consequence: lower HP to balance larger tank battles, similar cost and DPS to that it is still vaguely comparable to other tanks in groups of 5-10 (with intel but no other support), and lower speed to prevent infinite kiting.

Going back to the above list, the Aurora is not too bad vs LABs (though intel and micro play a larger role than with other tanks), is poor at raiding (low speed and low HP), is terrible vs other tanks in low numbers (e.g. 3 vs 3 Aurora vs Thaam, the Thaam only has to run in and will win easily), and is perhaps too strong in larger armies (especially with ACU support where the armies are often kiting and retreating, though bombers are a big factor).

My suggestion to address this: add a new T1 tank and reduce Aurora DPS.

The new T1 tank should trade similarly to other tanks when in similar quantity (in terms of mass cost), which I believe requires equal range to other tanks. For factional diversity and to complement the Aurora, I suggest that the new tank is heavier (maybe 30% more expensive with buffs to DPS and armour in order to trade similarly), and slower than other tanks (similar to the Aurora) in order to not make it strictly better than other T1 tanks.

This new tank should do well (balanced) when attacking/defending a position in smaller numbers (direct consequence of above balance) and when raiding (though a little worse than other tanks due to speed).

In larger armies the new tank will have a couple of weaknesses compared to other T1 tanks: greater vulnerability to T1 arty (due to slower speed) and to overcharge (due to higher mass concentration). This is where the Aurora comes in, performing roughly the role of a T1 sniper.

As such and to address the current balance vs ACUs, the Aurora should have lower DPS but perhaps also better range. The intention is that Aurora + intel still trades well vs other T1 tanks in larger numbers but that the damage output is lower, allowing more time for reaction by other players.

Implementation

I suggest the following as a starting point, though likely tweaks are needed:

Bear: T1 heavy tank
HP: 450, Cost: 90m+400e+420t, vision: 20, speed 3, turn-rate: 90
Weapon: range 0-18, 40dmg / 1.2sec (33.33dps)

Aurora: T1 sniper tank
Same range: 0-26 (also range of T1 PD)
Buf speed: 3.1 (from 3)
Buf HP: 180 (from 155)
Reduce turn rate? (Currently 310 vs 90 for most tanks.)
Reduce DPS: 30dmg / 1.9sec (15.79dps) (from 40/1.7=23.53)

Flare: keep the same or nerf slightly? (It's currently the strongest LAB which is okay, but not so necessary with my other changes.)

This is all just my theorising. I'm a mid-level player (1200 1v1) so cannot speak for everyone. Considerable tuning will be needed. Players will need to adapt significantly when playing with or against Aeon.

Those comments out of the way, I could try implementing this with a mod (if someone would be so kind as to create a unit model), though I'm also not the best person for that job. I would rather hear some feedback first.

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I like the suggestion of the flare being a sniper bot, if I get some time tonight I'll make a mod for people to mess around with

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though I believe it's still under-represented in tournaments

Isn't that because it's the most banned faction?

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I was unaware aeon t1 stage was so bad they needed a whole new unit.

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On discord it was earlier discussed to give Aurora a personal shield.

If the LAB becomes a LSB (Light Sniper Bot), the Aurora could get a range nerf (to 19?) and 100 hp / 1 energy personal shield. The aurora is still a tad weak, but the LSB should be better support than T1 arty is for other factions. In addition, micro is still rewarded. You could micro shield depleted Aurora to the back to regenerate before they die.

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aurora can win in small number vs other tanks if microed do dodge every shot by wiggling

Forumpros doing balance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SJhLlucMXE .
When a canis player remembers to build more than 3 units https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hjp8xJHuyA .

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@turinturambar really? - awesome
Will try to do that until this is patched in 😄

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well,that's really the entire point of aurora,not sure why it has to be patched

queuing with a newbie to show him the beauty of tmm and meeting tagada be like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLcRpdZ0Xb0&ab_channel=Tomoko

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You have a lot of good reasoning and thought put into your suggestion, and I am 100% for new units to an obscene degree (even came in second in last year's new unit competition, which I will bring up constantly). But I don't think this new tank would fit in well with what I think the "vibe" of FAF is.

Aurora are quite strong, and perfectly adequate for the T1 stage, not to mention their performance carries over better to T2 than other factions t1 tank once they get mobile shields and their meat shield, obsidian. They are even unique enough to have their own tactics, attacking from over water out of enemy range, and raiding engines building naval factories. Remembering to make t1 scouts to go with them, and to do the most basic micro of kiting them back (and this is coming from the anti-micro guy), is perfectly fine.

Again, I love new units. Make a mod, it would be awesome. And what war is complete without an arms race? The new small arms every week of WW2 are half the fun. Imagine some long term chromehounds esque multiplayer campaign/tournament where each faction voted every week to add a unit from a mod to their faction roster. Baller.

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

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aurora can win in small number vs other tanks if microed do dodge every shot by wiggling

Thanks for your input Turin. In case it wasn't clear, I'm a little more concerned about more average players than yourself (who often struggle to micro effectively and keep up with everything else). Of course it's an open question whether balance should reflect only on the top players (this seems to be Jagged's opinion if I understand correctly) or whether lower-ranked players should be considered (this does have a caveat: under-representation of Aeon at lower ranks may in part be because new players who do well with Aeon advance more quickly than with other factions — but this is pure hypothesis without evidence).

Aurora are quite strong

Well, yes. My point above is that they are too strong in large numbers and too weak individually (though Turin clearly disagrees with this part).

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@cyborg16 idk about individually, I have not run that test. They seem fine to me, but I'm struggling to get to 900 on global. Is this because I only play Aeon? Maybe. But moreso I play maybe two games a week and it's just Gap.

So, could you stat out your unit? I'd like to see what you have in mind.

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

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@KaletheQuick Gap maps are quite different from other types of play with basically no raiding. If you want to get good, 1v1 ladder and replays are your best tools.

I did give a rough idea on stats for the "heavy" T1 tank above. Tuning will be required; perhaps the following will do as a starting point:

Bear: T1 heavy tank
HP: 450, Cost: 90m+400e+420t, vision: 20, speed 3, turn-rate: 90
Weapon: range 0-18, 40dmg / 1.2sec (33.33dps)

Aurora: T1 sniper tank
Buf range: 0-29 (from 0-26)
Buf speed: 3.1 (from 3)
Buf HP: 180 (from 155)
Reduce turn rate? (Currently 310 vs 90 for most tanks.)
Reduce DPS: 30dmg / 1.9sec (15.79dps) (from 40/1.7=23.53)

Flare: keep the same or nerf slightly? (It's currently the strongest LAB which is okay, but not so necessary with my other changes.)

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@cyborg16 I know, I am just short on time. Gap is time efficient and less stressful. Easier to relax. Anyway.

Let's summarize your goals here. This thread kinda forked from the "Why noone play Aeon" one, and iirc your goal was to make aeon T1 land more approachable so more people would play it starting at lower levels, right?

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

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There is also a very easy and not fun way to adress those problems that you pointed out.
Rise the hp and reduce the range of Aurora. Makeing it similar to other t1 tanks. Same range, and (more or less) same hp. Keep the hover to go over water and dodge, keep the fireing problems related to elevation and slow speed. It will still be faction specific unit.
Not sure if this is good idea, but it might make low-to-medium level players use it as they use other nations... Also almost no balancing to do, and easy to learn for players.

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@wikingest make the extra hitpoints part of a shield, that helps as Aeon is thematically associated with shields

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@wikingest Kinda reminds me of the "turn off faction bonuses" setting from AOE2. Lol.

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

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Aeon, "thematically", has single-purpose units. I feel like a heavy "meatshield" tank (without a range advantage) plus a "sniper" fits this theme. Bombers will still be the bane of Aurora, but now plain Aurora vs other tanks won't work so well. OTOH Aurora as ACU support will still be great. The Aurora as it is today has way too much DPS for its range.

@wikingest equalising range is the easy way out, yes, but boring.

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Just make a new "Heavy storm bot" that's just a flare with half the DPS and double the HP... And a big fat head 🤣

Call it the "cherub" because lol. Doing this avoids the "yet another tank" problem. Though it plays into the "yet another combat bot" problem.

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

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@cyborg16 said in Aeon T1 addition: heavy tank:

Aeon, "thematically", has single-purpose

That could advocate seperating the damage dealing from the tanking

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@kalethequick It seems more for me like "turn off one shortcoming for one nation. Shortcoming that is ruining this nation for most users." I am basing my words on this post and this one https://forum.faforever.com/topic/2673/why-is-aeon-1-disliked-2-inaccessible-and-3-most-unfun-units-but-4-most-fun-units/33

Now if this type of change will end up making even less players use Aeon, then of course, this was a bad idea. I might be wrong.

@Cyborg16 As I said: "very easy and not fun way to adress those problems". In the same time, no law obliges to add more and more complexity all the time. Game is seen as quite complex already. We have sniper gameplay already in t3 level.

@Valki Having shield would certainly add in faction diversity. Making people protect power and avoid stalling. In the same time not makeing nation impossible to use on big open maps.