Trying to understand the T3 Air rush

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I recently played with a group of relative pros, and was told that T3 Air by 9 minutes is normal. I have noticed the general ineffectiveness of T1 & T2 Air compared to Flak (both mobile & stationary), and I'm wondering if I am missing something. A single T2 AA under shield is a match against 20 T2 Gunships. That is not even considering the AA provided by a Cruiser. Is there some aspect of T1/T2 Air offense I'm not understanding? Any info is appreciated 🙂

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T3 air by min 9 is not normal, min 11 would be the baseline on most maps for when your pgen is finished and you begin spamming asf. Maybe they mean min 9 t3 air hq upgrade being done, but if it takes you 2 minutes to build your t3 pgen you upgraded too early tbh.

T2 air can be good against flak, corsairs can snipe flak if you send 2 per flak and basically take no damage. Janus in proper numbers basically fly through flak and unleash damage they can't micro away from.

Corsair and Notha are easy, make 2-4 of them, snipe mexes and pgens, keep them safe with major int cloud. Or don't and just use the 2-4 and then snipe crucial t2 pgens and get t3 air before enemy does.

Enjoy janus gameplay:

https://replay.faforever.com/16069768

https://replay.faforever.com/16226735

https://replay.faforever.com/16219530

https://replay.faforever.com/16069768

https://replay.faforever.com/16070148

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T2 offensive air is relatively easy to defend against using T1 interceptors and T2 flak. T2 mobile flak is good at shooting slow-moving gunships. T2 static flak has much faster projectiles than the mobile flak, so it's better for shooting faster-moving planes like Nothas and of course it's also good against gunships. If the defender has T3 air, ASF are also good for killing T2 offensive air units. And T3 SAMs are good too, but obviously you need T3 tech to make those.

There are definitely situations where it's possible to overwhelm air defenses with a lot of T2 planes, which is what FtX is describing.

The issue with rushing T3 air is not really about making ASF to shoot down T2 air. The main issue is that with T3 air, is that if you have it, you can make strategic bombers, which are a lot harder to kill with only T1 and T2 tools. The best ways to kill strategic bombers are ASFs and SAMs. 1 strategic bomber with proper micro and good scouting can fly around the map and kill many, many, many unshielded T2 mexes and T2 pgens. Just 1 strat bomber at about minute 12 can sometimes do enough damage by itself to win the game.

The defending team probably isn't going to have T3 soon enough to cover the map with SAM sites. The only practical way to fight the strat bomber that early is with ASFs.

Apart from ASFs, you can make swift winds to shoot down the strat (but only if you have Aeon T2 air, and swifties will get slaughtered by ASF, and they have a harder time catching up to it than the ASFs do). Or the defending player can spam tons and tons of T1 anti-air, but that's very expensive for the amount of protection it gives. If you force the defending team to spend 3k mass making 20 T1 anti-air, that's doing almost as much damage as killing four T2 mexes.

Apart from the economic damage from a single strat bomber, as the game goes on, you can see attacks by multiple strat bombers. With enough strats, you can punch through shields, or you can do enough damage in 1 pass to kill an ACU. Depending on the game, killing enemy ACUs might be super important. (Is it full share? Does the team have 1 good player and everyone else is not very good, so take out the good player, and the team falls apart? Is this a 2v2, so if you pick off one player, the survivor has to manage two bases, and doesn't have enough APM to keep up?)

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The last game I played I went for two strats before my two direct opponents had t3 air and you can see 1) the amount of damage they were able to do and 2) that the only thing that was able to stop them was a SAM. If I had tried to do the same thing but with t2 air they would have been stopped much more easily by t2 mobile flak/inties/engineers building t1 aa.

https://replay.faforever.com/16562480

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I appreciate the insight, but I feel this begs the question; Can T2 Air offense be improved? In the case of land, if my opponent goes for hard eco and I choose to spend my resources on 8 Land Factories, I can put the hurt on. With Air however, the T1 & T2 offense is so easily defeated that I have no incentive to try the same approach. I'm going to try adding more Bombers to my T2 mix (been mostly gunships), but I feel like that may not be as much of an improvement as I'm hoping.

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T2 air offense is already very strong. Lots of games are won or lost based on the use of T2 air. You might want to watch some high-rated ladder matches to see how the high-rated players use air units. You will see a lot of T2 air being made. (In the client, you can filter replays by game type and rating, for example you can ask it to only show you 1v1 ladder matches where everyone has 1800+ rating, then you can see how high-rated players play certain maps)

They're probably using the T2 air units in a very different way than what you're doing.

For example, high-rated players are likely to send 1-2 gunships out alone to pick off isolated mass extractors. They generally aren't trying to make a "gunship army" that they can use to kill the enemy tank army because 1-2 flaks shut that down. There may be times when the gunships have an opportunity to pick off enemy units (if the AA coverage is weak), but mostly it's about raiding, or about using them to snipe an ACU.

High-rated players also generally have less air defense like flak than lower-rated players have, because it's so expensive. A very low-rated player might sit at home in base, get T2 mexes and a T2 ACU, then build flaks and triads to protect the base. It's often not worth it to try to crack that with T2 air. The "8 land factories" strategy can be much stronger against that kind of opponent. You don't need gunships to raid their mexes because they don't have any outside their base.

Whatever your opponent is spending mass on, that means they're not spending the mass on something else. Scout them, figure out their weakness, and exploit their weakness.

Also, T2 bombers are generally used in a much more deliberate way than T1 bombers. Apart from the very beginning of the game (where a T1 bomber is expensive and you won't have very many of them) players will "throw away" T1 bombers without much worry, the same way they might "throw away" a couple T1 tanks to try to raid the enemy.

T2 bombers are a lot more expensive. People generally won't put T2 bombers into an infinite build queue. It would be normal to have an infinite queue like "1 scout 3 interceptors 1 t1 bomber" but it would be weird to have a queue like "5 interceptors + 1 janus." Players generally make T2 bombers deliberately when they have a specific target in mind, like taking down all of the enemy's T2 pgens.

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T2 air is more op than T3 air and would end most properly coordinated teamgames.

People generally won't put T2 bombers into an infinite build queue.

That’s literally the only way to make janus worth using.

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@arma473 said in Trying to understand the T3 Air rush:

Also, T2 bombers are generally used in a much more deliberate way than T1 bombers. Apart from the very beginning of the game (where a T1 bomber is expensive and you won't have very many of them) players will "throw away" T1 bombers without much worry, the same way they might "throw away" a couple T1 tanks to try to raid the enemy.

T2 bombers are a lot more expensive. People generally won't put T2 bombers into an infinite build queue. It would be normal to have an infinite queue like "1 scout 3 interceptors 1 t1 bomber" but it would be weird to have a queue like "5 interceptors + 1 janus." Players generally make T2 bombers deliberately when they have a specific target in mind, like taking down all of the enemy's T2 pgens.

I definitely need to treat my T2 air with a more tactical approach, not the 'overwhelming blob' that works with Land.