Gun Upgrade Nerf

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In this post I argue that the ACU Gun upgrades are overpowered, and that they hurt game diversity at the late t1/early T2 stage. I will also list the drawbacks of getting the gun-upgrade and why I feel that these drawbacks are too easily circumvented. This post is primarily intended towards affecting larger team-games without making the gun upgrade too weak in ladder/2v2, as I feel it is in a good spot there.


The ACU gun upgrades are arguably the most mass efficient choice in the entire game. On many maps you are at a serious disadvantage if your opponent goes for it but you do not. the upgrade enables one unit to hold points with ease while ecoing or using units elsewhere, and at an early point in the game it can easily snowball with veterancy and future upgrades.

Some people may say that nerfing gun upgrades will make the game more turtly, however it is my opinion that in many cases, the ACU gun upgrade itself is what limits aggression. In an ACU vs ACU fight, one side having far more units can often still be unable to gain enough of an advantage to push, and this is even moreso the case with the Gun-upgrade. Units are virtually unable to contribute in some cases, as they just become vet before getting into range, and the fight becomes a game of who can bring T2 pd or mobile shields to support their Gun ACU faster.

It's my opinion that the gun upgrade is strong enough to limit strategic options, such as pushing with an unupgraded Acu and an early T2 Army, or getting nano/regen field without gun, et cetera. With that, my hope is that the Gun upgrade will be nerfed so that there is more of a choice of which to get first within the first several minutes of the game.

Gun upgrade does have some drawbacks that in theory, work to prevent it from being overpowered:

  • The Gun upgrade has a relatively large energy cost
  • You can not move or control the ACU while upgrading (though you can queue up orders)
  • Opponents are aware you are upgrading due to the lighting effects on the ACU, and can see what arm is upgrading.
  • You can not get other upgrades on the same arm (affects some factions more than others).

However, in many cases, I feel that these drawbacks are not enough to hold Gun back from being overpowered, and that they are often even nullified:

  • The energy cost is appears high but is often negligible. Most of the time when going for it, you'll have an energy surplus and e storage for overcharge anyway. By building 1-2 e-storages while walking your ACU to a front/expansion you are essentially pseudo-building the upgrade, as by the time you get there you can click the upgrade button and use all your stored energy without having to unbalance your economy. Even just having 9000 energy in storage makes the upgrade very easy to get.
  • Furthermore, in teamgames, players often gift energy to allow gun upgrades to finish super quickly. This does in theory put the gifter at a disadvantage, but in 4v4's and up there's usually at least someone with energy to spare.
  • It's true that you can't use or move the ACU while upgrading, however the upgrade finishes so quickly that usually no loss is felt. Sometimes, you can even start upgrading in the middle of battle if your opponent doesn't have too much t1 arty, letting your acu still shoot and tank for your units.
  • Your opponent can see that you are upgrading, but cannot see how close you are to construction. It could be just started or almost complete, and attacking an upgrading ACU with an unupgraded ACU is very risky, especially with the fast build-times and the ability to gift energy.

In conclusion, I believe that the drawbacks to getting the gun upgrade are too easily nullified in teamgames.

I do understand that certain units (such as Aurora) may become a lot stronger if Gun Upgrade is nerfed too much, so it makes sense to be careful and strike a balance. Furthermore, I the Gun Upgrades are decently balanced in combat outside of their cost. For that reason, I suggest changes to the price of the upgrade:

  • Increase the build-time of the gun upgrade so an ACU can't just walk to the front while e-storage builds, and upgrade within half a minute or so.
  • Increase the mass cost of the upgrade. This way, gun upgrades will cost something even with a ton of energy either gifted or in storage. I believe trying to increase the energy costs would have a negligible effect in teamgames while making Gun underpowered in 1v1.

My idea for the numbers is as follows, they are of course not set in stone:

UEF, Cybran, and Seraphim:
Build time: 800 → 1200
Mass cost: 800 → 1200

Aeon (both upgrades):
Build time: 500 → 720
Mass cost: 500 → 720
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Gun upgrade isn't the problem in ur post, it's vet allowing u to carry off of tanking efficiently, but I think that's one of the few critical micro mechanics that exist in the game and would rather not harm it.

Gun itself isn't that strong in later T2 stage due to the OC nerf imo, even in larger teamgames you need supplemental combat upgrades to stay on the front and not get murked by a competent push.

Balance between T2 and gun in teamgames is pretty decent to me, if you make 1 or 2 t2 pd and position ACU properly a gun ACU can basically do nothing to dislodge you. It just comes down to how important it is to hold a set point on the map vs just dick around and get mass efficient trades.

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I disagree with vet being the problem, you can fight against and take down an ACU with much higher vet if you have some compensation, however fighting a Gun Acu usually requires your own gun, or least an acu and multiple T2 PD.

It's my experience that the ACU gets even better in the late T2 stage as you add more energy, vet, and e-storage. However, my focus is on the early T2 stage, where pushing against Gun ACU is costly at best even with more tanks and your own Gun, and where if you do want to attack you only really have one option, which is to grab the gun upgrade.

It's true you can hold with T2 pd but you are usually spending more than the attacker. At 500 mass and 3500 energy, that quickly goes past the attacking cost even though the T2 ACU upgrade is cheaper. You also aren't vetting the ACU, and a mismicro or latency can lose the position to a guncom-t1 arty mix while the opponent has a large window to retreat. Alternatively they can sometimes just ignore the PD and attack a teammate. That doesn't make T2 necessarily worse, and it gives some interesting options like TML, but it doesn't have the immediate threat that the gun upgrade does, and doesn't nearly limit counterplay to the same degree.

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Im kind of a noob but isn't this just a scouting issue? Scout the acu upgrading and you know that you gotta go gun and not to engage with your unupgraded acu. I don't have any reference point for anything before October as far as balance patches and changes to how things have evolved but in my time here it seems pretty good the way it is.

Let there be light

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In teamgames I've played, you typically have a choice of whether to go Gun, T2, or neither (and rely on factories).

Gun is strong at T1 and early T2, but quickly becomes weak after that. T2 upgrade is decent throughout, while relying on factories will depend on the map (and can be done instead or as well as gun upgrades).

If you go gun, you therefore need to get immediate value from it to pay back the investment, and it encourages an element of aggressive play which is needed in team games which on the more popular maps tend to strongly favour turtling already. The problem is that your main counter is T2 PD (and aeon Guncoms if you're not Aeon), which is likely what the enemy has if they didn't go guncom.

T2 upgrade also provides far more general utility - e.g. if you're near the frontline you can build radar without needing an engineer; if the enemy tries attacking with bombers you can quickly get T1 AA. You can reclaim faster (I've yet to test it properly in sandbox but if you micro it quickly I reckon you can get DPS signfiicantly better than your base gun reclaiming enemy T1 units); in some niche cases you can even capture the enemy T1 PD. You get more health and regen, and if you decide to retreat your ACU from the frontline you can use it as a useful builder (while getting any future upgrades faster).

You also mention the cost of T2 PD + T2 upgrade for defending guncom, but this neglects a number of points:
1 - the utility provided by T2 upgrade more generally (see above)
2 - the cost of all the extra PGens the guncom needed to get before they could start their upgrade. Mass for these is needed much sooner than the mass for the T2 PD, hence costs more (since your mass income increases at a significant rate early game) - i.e. what % of your income * time does T2 upgrade and T2 PD require cumulatively vs more T1 PGens and Gun upgrade? It's not a case of comparing absolute mass costs since you're getting them at different times. The answer also varies depending on the map.
3 - T2 PD will usually be got if getting a T2 upgrade even if the enemy isnt going guncom assuming the map has some sort of choke point/high value location, since it also helps defend against T1 arti (that can outrange T1 PD).

You also mention it's in a good spot 1v1 but not team games, but your changes would hurt it in 1v1 more than teamgames - when I go guncom in 1v1 I find it really hard to make it work, as I've got fewer tanks (due to more PGens) and am really vulnerable to a T1 arti attack (assuming I'm upgrading away from my base - if my ACU has to sit in my base I've probably just lost the game anyway on smaller maps). Making it take much longer to upgrade drastically increases the disadvantages on 1v1, and (given your stated aim) actually has slightly less impact on a teamgame (since teamgames are usually on larger maps, hence you could build fewer PGens since the upgrade is spread over a longer time but not have to worry as much about T1 Arti forcing you to cancel the upgrade compared with 1v1).

So in short, balance feels about right to me and encourages more interesting play.

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I dont think gun is a problem really, I think OC is too good @Evan_

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@evan_ said in Gun Upgrade Nerf:

I disagree with vet being the problem, you can fight against and take down an ACU with much higher vet if you have some compensation, however fighting a Gun Acu usually requires your own gun, or least an acu and multiple T2 PD.

No, a gun ACU dies to like 15 t2 tanks no problem if it overextends. Or at least gets into such low hp it is basically incapacitated if it has somewhere to retreat to unless it gets an hp upgrade or farms several vets. Even more so if you include shields to waste initial OCs since people arent (or shouldn't be) running around with +1000 overflow at min 10-11.

Gun upgrade rush min 5 is only going to be countered by gun upgrade or t2 upgrade yeah, nature of clustered teamgames because you have nowhere to emphasize a unit advantage and so generally stacking utility upgrades on the ACU is the best move to gain or hold ground. Gun is more expensive than T2 and should generally require 5 more pgens, this translates to about 70% of the cost of a t2 pd alongside a later upgrade finish.

I'd also say clustered teamgames already are disgustingly static but that's mostly because of how the t3 stage plays and there being essentially no counterplay against a ball of snipers aside from spending the 12k mass to set up a t2 arty firebase or a t4 like a fatboy or a mega. Nerfing gun just pushes the game forward into static play earlier in those games.

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I feel like gun is more centralizing on ladder than teamgames honestly, although the upgrade is pretty ubiquitous on pretty much any land focused map. Maybe it's because I play Cybran, but I pretty much never go T2 on my commander. Not only is my T2 PD lackluster, but with stealth I can easily take down lone T2 PDs no problem using OC.

That being said, I don't think it's overpowered even though it's definitely way more commonly used than T2. I would call it more "overused" than "overpowered".

put the xbox units in the game pls u_u

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@maudlin27 said in Gun Upgrade Nerf:

The problem is that your main counter is T2 PD (and aeon Guncoms if you're not Aeon), which is likely what the enemy has if they didn't go guncom.

This is absolutely true, but what I'm arguing is that this typically takes more resources than the guncom, and at best leaves both sides at a standstill or at worst lets the Guncom go attack a teammate.

T2 upgrade also provides far more general utility - e.g. if you're near the frontline you can build radar without needing an engineer; if the enemy tries attacking with bombers you can quickly get T1 AA. You can reclaim faster (I've yet to test it properly in sandbox but if you micro it quickly I reckon you can get DPS signfiicantly better than your base gun reclaiming enemy T1 units); in some niche cases you can even capture the enemy T1 PD. You get more health and regen, and if you decide to retreat your ACU from the frontline you can use it as a useful builder (while getting any future upgrades faster).

You also mention the cost of T2 PD + T2 upgrade for defending guncom, but this neglects a number of points:
1 - the utility provided by T2 upgrade more generally (see above)
2 - the cost of all the extra PGens the guncom needed to get before they could start their upgrade. Mass for these is needed much sooner than the mass for the T2 PD, hence costs more (since your mass income increases at a significant rate early game) - i.e. what % of your income * time does T2 upgrade and T2 PD require cumulatively vs more T1 PGens and Gun upgrade? It's not a case of comparing absolute mass costs since you're getting them at different times. The answer also varies depending on the map.
3 - T2 PD will usually be got if getting a T2 upgrade even if the enemy isnt going guncom assuming the map has some sort of choke point/high value location, since it also helps defend against T1 arti (that can outrange T1 PD).

The extra utility will take quite a while to create an advantage if you have to immediately put it to work on defense, by the time enough PD is up, the player with Gun may almost be done on a T2 HQ for tech, something both players are probably going for anyways. Being able to get up radar is nice, but by that point you'll usually have several engineers there.

Those Pgens still work to scale the economy after the upgrade is done, it isn't as if they stop benefitting after theit initial role. Besides which one of my main points is that the energy curve can be softened by frontloading e-storage while the ACU walks to the front. And in regards to point 2, The economy really doesn't scale at all if you're upgrading and then immediately placing down PD. It's not like you'll upgrade a mex when you need to quickly build defenses against a guncom. For point 3, even if you are going to get PD later that doesn't eliminate it's cost. It would be as if I said the same thing but for the Pgens.

You also mention it's in a good spot 1v1 but not team games, but your changes would hurt it in 1v1 more than teamgames - when I go guncom in 1v1 I find it really hard to make it work, as I've got fewer tanks (due to more PGens) and am really vulnerable to a T1 arti attack (assuming I'm upgrading away from my base - if my ACU has to sit in my base I've probably just lost the game anyway on smaller maps). Making it take much longer to upgrade drastically increases the disadvantages on 1v1, and (given your stated aim) actually has slightly less impact on a teamgame (since teamgames are usually on larger maps, hence you could build fewer PGens since the upgrade is spread over a longer time but not have to worry as much about T1 Arti forcing you to cancel the upgrade compared with 1v1).

Actually you typically have way more space and resources per player on ladder on most maps, with the exception being 20x20 ladder where gun isn't used often anyways, and some 5x5 where one player getting it can be a game-ender. Gun and other ACU upgrades are something you typically get later, as units can have much more of an impact. And the ACU needs to be more generalist.

I'm not denying Gun won't be slightly worse in Ladder with the changes (which by the way can be decreased if necessary), and that it won't come slightly later, but for 400 more mass it is still one of the most mass efficient things you can build, and absolutely takes at least as much of an investment to stop.

@ftxcommando said in Gun Upgrade Nerf:

No, a gun ACU dies to like 15 t2 tanks no problem if it overextends. Or at least gets into such low hp it is basically incapacitated if it has somewhere to retreat to unless it gets an hp upgrade or farms several vets. Even more so if you include shields to waste initial OCs since people arent (or shouldn't be) running around with +1000 overflow at min 10-11.

My point isn't that a Gun ACU is immune to everything, not the least of which 4 times the investment in an HQ and 15 T2 tanks. In my second post I was arguing (admittedly not worded very well) that a unit advantage can overcome a veterancy/hp disadvantage. However in a fight between gun ACUs, this advantage is reduced significantly unless you have nearly twice as many tanks.

Gun upgrade rush min 5 is only going to be countered by gun upgrade or t2 upgrade yeah, nature of clustered teamgames because you have nowhere to emphasize a unit advantage and so generally stacking utility upgrades on the ACU is the best move to gain or hold ground. Gun is more expensive than T2 and should generally require 5 more pgens, this translates to about 70% of the cost of a t2 pd alongside a later upgrade finish.

Even if the extra pgens needed was 100% of the cost of a PD, I would consider it advantageous, as once the upgrade finishes, the energy is going towards something else.

I'd also say clustered teamgames already are disgustingly static but that's mostly because of how the t3 stage plays and there being essentially no counterplay against a ball of snipers aside from spending the 12k mass to set up a t2 arty firebase or a t4 like a fatboy or a mega. Nerfing gun just pushes the game forward into static play earlier in those games.

I agree with the first point but not the latter, I believe that the cheap Gun Upgrade is one of the main things stopping units from contributing and unit advantages from being significant in the early game. Not that teamgames will magically be perfect after, but I think it's a start.