The Problems With The UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones)

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THE PROBLEMS WITH THE UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones)


Hi everyone!

Today I would like to talk about the Kennel and its drones.
In extension, the shoulder drones for both the UEF ACU and SACU.

I won't quite get into specifics on mass efficiency or Build Power efficiency as FtXCommando has already covered Kennels Vs. Hives in one of their previous posts with great detail. So, go view that one, too!

But the main gist will still be tackled.
This one is a little long, so bear with me.


-Disclaimer-

These are just some problems I wanted to bring attention to. I am offering my own solutions to these problems, however, I am not a balance team member, nor do I have a large data pool to back up my suggestions; Hence, the balances will likely need some adjustment. There may also be some better ideas to fix these issues, out there - so I encourage you guys to suggest your own ideas as well.


-Structures-

Problem: The Kennel (Engineering Station) & Drones, detailed version:

Kennels are a fantastic unit, they produce flying engineer drones that can move anywhere on the map! In terms of Engineering Stations, they are quite similar to the Hive and its variants, so I will focus on its comparison with the Cybran structure.


Structure Wreckage Values

To start off, I would like you guys to take a look at the image below:

4a39b00b-51d6-4792-b510-802cf2336d73-image.png
Image: Shows reclaim values for each tier of engineering station for both Cybran and UEF.

Notice a problem? If you haven't, allow me to assist.

What we are looking at specifically is the wreckages of each Engineering Station. On the top row, we have the Hive and each of its tier's wreckage values. On the bottom row, we have the UEF and its variants.

Notice how the base Kennel's wreckage is worth 446 mass, yet the upgraded variant is worth a little bit less at 405.

Before I go on, I would like to quickly point out that a max upgraded Hive and a max upgraded Kennel are worth the same in terms of mass investment. Both require 1050 mass total.

Now, with this information, the wreckage of the upgraded Kennel should be valued at around 810 to 892 mass. Or, for balance's sake, at least the same as the max upgraded hive; valued at 851 - since you are investing the same amount of mass.


Drone HP

If you are unfamiliar, drones are classified as air units. Air units that have 6 HP each - across all Tech stages. This means anything with AA (with the exception of ASF) can shoot at them; and with their low HP, they will be destroyed easily. I'm specifically mentioning this as even a T3 drone has 6 HP. Yes, 6 HP at the T3 & T4 stage.

The drone's range and ability to be used anywhere is severely held back by their HP.
I will explain in more detail further below.


Drone Rebuild Time & Cost

It takes almost 40 seconds for a Kennel to rebuild a drone. The Kennel requires 6 mass and 66 energy per second to rebuild it during that timeframe.

Doing the math, that's about 240 mass and 2,640 energy to rebuild a drone. (According to the database, a drone is valued at 250 mass & 2,500 energy.)

So, this is a problem as losing the Build Power for almost 40 seconds is already a huge penalty. Why must the user also pay for the drones each time they are destroyed, as well?

On top of this, the Upgraded Kennel only rebuilds one drone at a time, needing 80 seconds to rebuild both drones. Another issue here is that you cannot even assist the Kennel in rebuilding its drones - so it's a static 40 to 80 seconds at all times!!!


Drone Speed & Assist Range

Though this isn't quite an issue as the other problems mentioned, but, I would still like to touch on it.

The assist range of a drone makes swapping between assisting units, structures, factories, and more, quite lengthy and wacky. Currently, its range matches that of a T1 engineer; This makes the drone fumble around needing to re-adjust its heading, height, and the direction it's facing when swapping assist orders, then it has to move as well.

If this was increased to that of a T3, or even just a T2 engineer, it would make the drones a little more viable to use in bases. More than accounting for the awkwardness drones have. As they will swap and start assisting a little bit quicker, not wasting time on the movement.

Below, we are comparing the range of a Kennel's Drone to that of a T3 engineer.

3cbc6385-e583-479a-82e7-14a1413104be-image.png

Image: Comparing the range of Drone (Inner dark brown circle) to T3 Engineer (Outside golden circle) with a base as reference.

In theory, it does make up for this 'short range' with its ability to fly; However, then its speed comes into question. Its max speed, as stated by the database is "3-4".

8fb20013-2a44-45fb-9fa2-c8ebcf8b7fd8-image.png

Image: Stats of a Kennel Drone, specifically, focusing on the speed stat.

Its assist-range ability is greatly affected by its speed as it cannot swap between structures as fast as the Hive - which can swap INSTANTLY between anything in its range.


Reclaim Action

A hive is able to reclaim incoming Moving units
Let's be real, we've all done it once or twice in games when it's getting tight.

Incoming Experimental? Suck it up and leave its wreckage as a statue to remember this victory!

28f098ae-0578-4ce9-a07d-d64cb9162260-image.png
Image: Standing wreckage of an unlucky GC that attacked a base with Hives as T4 PD

However, drones cannot reclaim units that are moving. I believe this is an engine limitation, but I'm still mentioning it in case anyone can explain why this isn't possible.


I can see a few possible solutions to these problems; Option 3 was offered by Oblii (2100), so credit for that idea goes to them.

  • Option 1: Make the Kennel drones far cheaper, or even free, to rebuild.
    Lower the rebuild time significantly.

  • Option 2: Increase the survivability of the drone.

  • Option 3: Increase the HP by a significant amount, but impose restrictions.


Option 1:
Decreasing the time needed to rebuild the drones would make it so a player goes less time without needing to rebuild their BP.

Decreasing their cost would make it so the user doesn't need to pay multiple times per drone each time they are destroyed as they are very fragile and quite expensive in numbers. You can easily lose 10 drones, costing you 2,500 mass, and 25,000 energy!


Option 2 (A):
An option here is to increase their HP. This will help them significantly.
It will make it more difficult to lose a drone to any form of AA as well as lose them to excess splash / AoE damage.

For example: If your drones are under a shield (specifically near the edges of the shield), and anything with AoE attacks, (Strats, T2 & T3 static and mobile arty, etc.) There is a high chance that damage spills into/through the shield which then destroys the drones.


Option 2 (B):
A suggestion that was offered to me was that the drones fly a little higher to prevent splash from hurting them. This can be useful in all Tech stages of drones but would benefit the ACU shoulder drones mostly, especially in the early stages of T1.


Option 3 (A):
Increase the HP of the drones significantly to allow them to be used with more confidence. However, to balance this, add a 'leash' - or limit their range - so they cannot fly everywhere.


Option 3 (B):
Similar to the previous option, but instead of limiting their range, a fuel bar is imposed. Requiring the drones to refuel at their stations every few minutes.


Drone BP:

(This section may be disregarded if the Nerf to the hive goes through.)

I believe their drone's BP should be increased. Compared to the Hive - which can upgrade itself twice, effectively tripling its BP, it's lacking!!

Now, I understand that you need to pay for the flying ability and the range that Drones offer, as they can move anywhere, but sacrificing so much BP for that seems strange. Right now, Kennels cost 550 mass to build and a Hive costs 350 mass to build. Both produce the same BP: 25. The Kennel can be upgraded for 500 mass to double its BP, which now totals 50, and the Hive can upgrade itself twice for 350 mass each time, for a total of 75 BP.

Essentially, both will cost you a total of 1050 mass. However, one provides you with 50 flying BP while the other provides you with 75 static BP. So, you're paying the same mass cost for 33% less BP.

By increasing the BP of the drones just slightly, they will have more of a chance to compete with Cybran Hives. Though you will still lack enough BP to keep Hives as the king of assistance in the immediate area where they operate in. This small increase in BP should balance itself out with the fact that Drones can be destroyed by almost every unit that has anti-air and by the higher drone and structure costs.


Suggestions:

I recommend all drones be immune to damage whilst they are docked as any form of (AoE) damage will destroy them.

This can be witnessed on the ACU and SACU Drones as they will be destroyed by damage from another (support) commander's main weapon, T1 mobile artillery, overcharge, T1 bombers, Strats (Their AA capability), etc.

Heck, even an Interceptor can also shoot the drones off of a Commander's back!

AoE damage can also be noticed if a T1 bomber ground fires the area where a drone / or a group of drones are operating in, the AoE will damage and destroy the drones.


A quality-of-life suggestion would be that, if we are to take advantage of the drone and its ability to fly, they should be allowed to reclaim wreckages with just a Patrol or Attack-move order. This would encourage drone use outside of just bases.

Though, the HP again, would be an issue.


On a separate note, I suggest that the Kennel get its own T3 variant. In the FAF database, the upgraded Kennel is classified as a T3 structure. It would be favorable for the Kennel if you could build the upgraded variant when you have a T3 Engineer or T3 Suite, saving you some time from managing upgrades as these upgrades take longer than Hive upgrades. It'll still cost the same resources and whatnot, but it would also give the Kennel some more compete-ability against the Hive as in typical Cybran fashion, they are more favored.


Problem: Kennel Drones / Drones: TL:DR

All drones the UEF has in its arsenal are in need of rebalancing.
The Kennel itself as well as its drones have a few flaws that are in need of re-adjusting.


Proposed Solutions:


All drones:

Invulnerable whilst docked (Kennel Station, ACU, SACU).
Allow all drones to reclaim like standard engineers (Patrol & Attack Move)

As for what Option 2 (B) says:
Operational elevation increase: 3 -> 8?

For reference, a T1 Interceptor flies at an elevation of 18. This would help avoid random ground splash damage from killing the drone(s). But not too high to where they float above/outside of shields.


ACU Drones:

HP increase: 6 - > 51

This would make it so ACU drones take 2 shots from an Intie before dying but still keep their HP low enough so that T1 AA can deal with it with ease. They're already worth quite a lot - as much as a T1 Transport each. Having them with a bit more HP would help in their survivability.

Rebuild time reduction:
It takes longer to rebuild the drone than it is to get the upgrade again.


SACU Drones:

HP increase: 6 - > 201
Increase speed of drone: 4 -> 5

In the T3 Stage, even with 200 HP, anything will kill them with ease. But this would help again, with random Splash that hurts them. For example, a Spy Plane or an ASF's crash's damage won't just send them to oblivion.

As for the speed, having it increase would compliment the Kennel drones when they are tasked on a mission, having one slower than the other would be counterintuitive.

Rebuild time reduction:
It takes longer to rebuild the drone than it is to get the upgrade again.


Kennel & Drones:

Increase the wreckage value of T3 Kennel: 406 -> 851
Increase the assist range to match a T3 engineer.
Increase speed of drone: 4 -> 5
(Fixes issue with drone fumbling, compliments SACU drone speed change.)

Option 1:
250 Mass -> 50 Mass (Free?)
2,500 Energy -> 500 Energy (Free?)
Rebuild Time: 40 seconds -> 7 seconds
(10 seconds or more would still feel quite long and 5 seconds may be a little short. 7 would be a good middle ground.)

Option 2:
Increase drone HP: 6 -> 151.
This would help in sending drones out to get reclaim or whatnot in the T2 and T3 stages as well as make it slightly more difficult to lose them.

Option 3: (A)
Increase drone HP: 6 -> 501
Max Range ∞ -> 256 (Same range as a TML)

Option 3: (B)
Increase drone HP: 6 -> 501
Fuel Capacity: 10 Minutes

Suggestions:
Allow the blueprint for an upgraded T3 Kennel to be built in the T3 Suite.
Allow passive reclaim via Patrol or attack-move order.


My thoughts on option 3 (A & B):

The high HP would make them quite useful for front-line use. With this HP, the drones would be far weaker than gunships, (flak would 3 or 4 shot them) but still enough to make inties and "Swift Winds' (Aeon T2 Combat Fighter) not one-shot them which would increase their utility and enforcing more aggressive actions with drones.

However, I would prefer Option 3 (B), as even without fuel, the drone could still fly around and utilize its range. This can be useful in larger maps like Seton's when you want to send out the drones to reclaim in the middle of the pond(s), risking air and navy fire.

That being said, I still believe Option 1 is the best overall as it doesn't change the fundamentals of the drone itself and how it's used.

Being honest, Option 3 (A) is quite extreme, to me. And imposing range restrictions would make the point of paying for the Kennel's range ability, quite dull. But the huge HP increase would likely make up for the fact.

Though I am slightly opposed on imposing limitations on range; I am still sharing it with you all as it seems like a great idea that could be further expanded upon. With obvious balances, of course.

Having a drone with 500 HP would likely mean a hefty change or nerf elsewhere.


Thank you!
I encourage you all to offer your own suggestions.
I appreciate the feedback.

Next post on Friday!
Edit: Taking a quick break to not spam the forums, haha. I'll post the next update likely next Monday (29th).
Sneak peek at part 7: The Ravager

For now, see you on the battlefield!

~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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@comradestryker said in The Problems With The UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones):

Increase the wreckage value of T3 Kennel: 406 -> 851

This is probably a bug anyway. The blueprint is missing this: DifferentialUpgradeCostCalculation = true (and simply has it's cost at 500 instead of 1050).
So basically the t3 kennel is not considered an upgrade, but rather a replacement, in terms of economy stats.

@comradestryker said in The Problems With The UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones):

Allow all drones to reclaim like standard engineers

So they currently can only manually reclaim?
Is an attack moving drone that op?

I kinda like the idea of drones having fuel. Not sure tho if it's possible/easy to implement, that they return to the station to refuel. Because having them refuel at staging would be weird.

@comradestryker said in The Problems With The UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones):

Rebuild Time: 40 seconds -> 7 seconds

I think a higher build time (at least like 20 seconds) is better or there would be no point in shooting down a drone (if it's free). And combined with increased health it would also be more of an investment to shoot them down.

@comradestryker said in The Problems With The UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones):

Operational elevation increase: 3 -> 8?

I think reducing their susceptibility to AOE is the best way to increase their survivability, as this would make the drones die less randomly, without preventing you from actually killing annoying drones.

I also think there shouldn't be to many drone variants. I would suggest 1 per tech level at most or even keep it at 1 drone blueprint, because it would be impossible to differentiate between them and if they have different stats, it would make it hard to tell if you can shoot down that drone or not with your intie.

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To add to @Nex , the wreckage value is a bug and one we should fix regardless. I'm also in favor of increasing the height of the drone so that it is less vulnerable to splash damage, while at the same time reducing the amount of mesh intersections with structures.

I like the idea of fuel, but I'm not sure how they'd refuel. Having them go back and forth doesn't work for me, it would nerf them into the ground. What about a maximum operation radius, and use the fuel bar as an indication as to whether they're near the edge? If they surpass the radius, they simply drop dead. We could give the kennel some additional intel overlay to indicate the radius when building. The same can apply to the drones of the command unit, where the radius is relative to where the ACU is.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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I haven't seen kennel drones die to inties much because they are out later in the game where inties are not around as much.

I don't build kennels because they die to Artie's too much and they have been balanced equally to engies, and they are just better except for clumping and travel time.

Build radius doesn't matter since they don't clump up, engies do and that's why a t3 has slightly bigger build radius so to ease clumping around a factory.

If they are given fuel it needs to be spent only in travel time and not while building. I don't think fuel is the right balance effort.

Drones cannot attack move or patrol irc, very micro heavy to send them on missions, often they travel slowly across the map, do 1 thing and travel back.

Drones definitely need a rework on when they get destroyed, they become a mass suck when that happens, would be nice if they leave wreckage, but they always get overkilled from low HP.

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Having a fuel mechanic on the drones increases complexity, but I don't see what current problem that would solve?

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My thoughts on the proposed solutions:
Fixing wreckage values - sounds like a bug so fixing would be good
Increasing height the drones operate at - good idea
Allowing them to function similar to normal engineers with patrol and attack-move - good idea

HP increase - Also a reasonable idea in moderation. I'd prefer a consistent HP across all drones rather varying by drone which is more confusing; A t1 engineer is 150 health so I'd put it slightly below this at somewhere between 50-100 health, so it still dies quickly to T1 AA
Speed increase to 5 - again if changing this then make it consistent for all of them
Build time reduction - also agreed, current time feels far too long
Resource cost reduction - Agreed; I dont think it should be free, but the 80% reduction proposed seems fine

I'm not keen on the fuel mechanic though, it adds extra complexity and deviates from the original FAF game, and I dont think it's really needed, since even with a speed increase to 5 the drones would be so slow that they could be easily shot down if moving far away. If this was a concern I'd just scrap the speed increase or adjust the cost of building the drones by a smaller amount (to say 60% reduction).

Overall if they were changed I think the changes should be consistent across drones - i.e. drones should all function the same way in terms of speed, health, and cost to rebuild

M27AI developer; Devlog and more general AI development guide:
https://forum.faforever.com/topic/2373/ai-development-guide-and-m27ai-v56-devlog

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Basically all of these suggestions do nothing and keep kennel irrelevant because hives being able to instantly swap bp while being cheaper means they’re superior in 99% of situations.

Really all engie stations need is a hive nerf so it has the mass efficiency of kennels and maybe making kennels slightly more mass efficient so that there exists some tradeoff between the sheer utility of hive and the objectively worse translation of bp that drones provide.

Like the engie stations costing mass to rebuild drones isn’t the problem because the removal of drones means you’re now floating mass with nothing to do. I’d rather the stations had the bp to make a drone in 3 seconds given I had the resources to rebuild them (which I will since all my bp just died).

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@nex

This is probably a bug anyway. The blueprint is missing this: DifferentialUpgradeCostCalculation = true (and simply has it's cost at 500 instead of 1050).
So basically the t3 kennel is not considered an upgrade, but rather a replacement, in terms of economy stats.

I see. I figured it was a bug, but several years later, and it's still not fixed? Weird.

So they currently can only manually reclaim?
Is an attack moving drone that op?

Yes, they can only manually reclaim, which is quite a hassle.
I don't think an Attack moving drone reclaiming is OP, as currently, they have 6 HP - which is considerably less than T1 engineers. Yes, they can fly, but they're slower than any air unit. So, I don't think giving them this ability would be OP.

I kinda like the idea of drones having fuel. Not sure tho if it's possible/easy to implement, that they return to the station to refuel. Because having them refuel at staging would be weird.

I asked someone to double-check this beforehand, and they said it was possible to add a fuel system. If this is implemented, I believe returning to their station is the best option to refuel.

Though, I am still opposed to leashing or implementing restrictions on their range. You're already paying a lot for the range, and now we're gonna limit it? Seems kind of a nerf to me, and they need a drastic buff as is.

I think a higher build time (at least like 20 seconds) is better or there would be no point in shooting down a drone (if it's free). And combined with increased health it would also be more of an investment to shoot them down.

Well, it was either or, not both. Increasing their HP OR reducing their rebuild time and cost. If Kennels got both, I believe that may be a little strong.

I think reducing their susceptibility to AOE is the best way to increase their survivability, as this would make the drones die less randomly, without preventing you from actually killing annoying drones.

Yeah, this is a good suggestion offered to me. Really nice.

I also think there shouldn't be to many drone variants. I would suggest 1 per tech level at most or even keep it at 1 drone blueprint, because it would be impossible to differentiate between them and if they have different stats, it would make it hard to tell if you can shoot down that drone or not with your intie.

There are 3 drone variants.
Tech 1: ACU Shoulder Drones
Tech 2: Kennel Drones
Tech 3: SACU Shoulder Drones

They all have the same stats for the most part, with the exception of Build Power and Engineering suites. Having A T3 drone die to an Intie, or literally crash damage, makes it so... questionable. A SACU drone is so expensive as is, and having them die to anything is just absurd. I agree that they should have low HP but they should be able to survive one or two random AoE hits. Obviously not from a Strat or anything but from an indirect arty shell or a T2 PD.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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@jip

To add to @Nex , the wreckage value is a bug and one we should fix regardless. I'm also in favor of increasing the height of the drone so that it is less vulnerable to splash damage, while at the same time reducing the amount of mesh intersections with structures.

Sounds like a good overall change. 🙂

I like the idea of fuel, but I'm not sure how they'd refuel.

Likely at their Kennel Stations

Having them go back and forth doesn't work for me, it would nerf them into the ground.

I don't think so - as it really depends on the amount of fuel time they get. If it's around 15 minutes or more, that might be fine. This could arguably be considered as a "battery life" change rather than fuel, too.

What about a maximum operation radius, and use the fuel bar as an indication as to whether they're near the edge? If they surpass the radius, they simply drop dead. We could give the kennel some additional intel overlay to indicate the radius when building. The same can apply to the drones of the command unit, where the radius is relative to where the ACU is.

I guess this is worth a shot, but I must say, I am opposed to limiting their range as it would make using them outside of bases not worth it. That is a strength that they have over Hive and reducing that range would significantly hurt the Kennel - and it already needs a dire change as is.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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@veteranashe

I haven't seen kennel drones die to inties much because they are out later in the game where inties are not around as much.

This can mainly be seen very early on in the T1 stage of the game where ACU drones are flying about.

I don't build kennels because they die to Artie's too much and they have been balanced equally to engies, and they are just better except for clumping and travel time.

You should still build them - their range is quite good and a lot of plays can be done with them - as long as you're very careful with them. But if you have the option, definitely take Hives over drones. They're just better in almost every way.

Build radius doesn't matter since they don't clump up, engies do and that's why a t3 has slightly bigger build radius so to ease clumping around a factory.

Fair point, but increasing their range just a tad would help in movement and assisting around a base. I think this is a nice change over engies as they don't have an engineering suite. They're just BP.

If they are given fuel it needs to be spent only in travel time and not while building. I don't think fuel is the right balance effort.

Good point. This should be taken into consideration, too.

Drones cannot attack move or patrol irc, very micro heavy to send them on missions, often they travel slowly across the map, do 1 thing and travel back.

Yes! This is quite annoying. They want to fly back after every order and it's just a hassle.

Drones definitely need a rework on when they get destroyed, they become a mass suck when that happens, would be nice if they leave wreckage, but they always get overkilled from low HP.

Leaving wreckages - that's something I didn't think of. Perhaps you could expand on this more?


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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@blackyps

Having a fuel mechanic on the drones increases complexity, but I don't see what current problem that would solve?

It was just a suggestion offered to me. To counter this, the HP of the drone would be increased to 500 - which would make them far more useful on front lines or whatnot.

This would give them more versatility, but yeah, I'm still opposed to limiting their range.

It seems like it can be a good idea if implemented properly hence why I shared it even though I'm against it. Hopefully, someone can see something here where I can't and they could expand more on this.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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When hives, engines due they leave wreckage, so your now gone BP can at least get mass back.

The HP is so low on drones that they will always be overkilled and never leave wreckage enen if they are set too. At least if one dies you can reclaim the wreckage for some mass back like other forms of BP.

I've built plenty of drones, engies are mostly better and more useful.

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@maudlin27

My thoughts on the proposed solutions:
Fixing wreckage values - sounds like a bug so fixing would be good
Increasing height the drones operate at - good idea
Allowing them to function similar to normal engineers with patrol and attack-move - good idea

Glad you like the suggestions. I do think they need the Patrol/Attack-Move order as this would make them far more versatile at getting reclaim but they would also need a small increase in HP to help in this. Just enough to lower the risk of them dying but not enough to where they're too tanky.

HP increase - Also a reasonable idea in moderation. I'd prefer a consistent HP across all drones rather varying by drone which is more confusing; A t1 engineer is 150 health so I'd put it slightly below this at somewhere between 50-100 health, so it still dies quickly to T1 AA

Though I agree that they need an HP increase, I beg to differ that they shouldn't have different HP. There are only 3 drone variants in the game. One for each tech level. Depending on the game, it would be easily identifiable to know which drones you are facing depending on the time and what your opponent has.

The 3 levels are drones are as follows:
T1: ACU Shoulder Drones
T2: Kennel Drones
T3: SACU Drones

With this, again, it's not that difficult to know which drone you are facing.
Having all drones with 6HP across all tech stages makes them quite difficult to use. This is why I offered reasonable HP increases per tech stage. Max of 201 HP at T3.
T1 would have 51 HP - enough to survive one pass by a T1 intie, T2 Would have about 151 HP, enough to survive random splash that hurts them, and T3 would just be a slight increase on top of that but enough so that they don't die to random AoE, too.

Speed increase to 5 - again if changing this then make it consistent for all of them
Build time reduction - also agreed, current time feels far too long
Resource cost reduction - Agreed; I dont think it should be free, but the 80% reduction proposed seems fine

Glad to hear you support these changes, too. Though I agree completely, having free drones would make it so there isn't much of a penalty when you lose them aside from making them respawn at their Stations a few seconds later.

I'm not keen on the fuel mechanic though, it adds extra complexity and deviates from the original FAF game, and I dont think it's really needed, since even with a speed increase to 5 the drones would be so slow that they could be easily shot down if moving far away. If this was a concern I'd just scrap the speed increase or adjust the cost of building the drones by a smaller amount (to say 60% reduction).

I'm not for the range limitations either as that's literally the only advantage they have over Hives, currently. Limiting that hurts the Kennel more and I say they need all strengths as they can.

But yeah, any air unit can catch up to them - they are quite slow.

Overall if they were changed I think the changes should be consistent across drones - i.e. drones should all function the same way in terms of speed, health, and cost to rebuild

What about the mass investments of a T1 drone compared to a T3 drone?
The mass difference is quite large, and I wouldn't like losing a T3 drone.

T1 drones cost 120 mass each, T2 drones cost 250 mass, and T3 Drones cost 380 mass. All with 6 HP. I'd expect at the very least a reasonable increase for HP at each tech level. For the mass cost that you're investing at least.


Thanks for the support! Hope to hear more from you on this.
Hopefully, at least a few of these changes go through.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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@ftxcommando

Basically all of these suggestions do nothing and keep kennel irrelevant because hives being able to instantly swap bp while being cheaper means they’re superior in 99% of situations.

I would argue that these changes will at least make the Kennel a far more viable option overall. It'll have its own strengths over the Hive. The Hive would still be the "King of assistance" but at least the Kennel would have some strengths of its own, as well.

Specifically if the cost reduction, rebuild time reduction, and the Patrol/Attack-move order goes through. That last one would be quite the change, actually.

This would make it a far more competitive and balanced option rather than a one-sided story, as it is right now.

Really all engie stations need is a hive nerf so it has the mass efficiency of kennels and maybe making kennels slightly more mass efficient so that there exists some tradeoff between the sheer utility of hive and the objectively worse translation of bp that drones provide.

Even with the BP reduction of the Hive (if it even goes through) it would still keep the Kennel out of the equation as the drones would not be as effective as the Hive.

Like the engie stations costing mass to rebuild drones isn’t the problem because the removal of drones means you’re now floating mass with nothing to do. I’d rather the stations had the bp to make a drone in 3 seconds given I had the resources to rebuild them (which I will since all my bp just died).

Well, this would depend on the situation as well - but losing drones overall is quite a penalty at 40 seconds per drone. Floating mass may not be an issue but having the drones to divert the mass (even if you're stalled) is still a benefit.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

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@veteranashe

When hives, engines due they leave wreckage, so your now gone BP can at least get mass back.

The HP is so low on drones that they will always be overkilled and never leave wreckage enen if they are set too. At least if one dies you can reclaim the wreckage for some mass back like other forms of BP.

You make a good point. At least this way the mass can be gathered back.

I've built plenty of drones, engies are mostly better and more useful.

Engineers will always be more efficient, too. But the travel time of drones is quite nice, too.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

1

@ComradeStryker https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pull/4132 Fix for the Wreckage Mass Discrepancy

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" - Spock

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@comradestryker said in The Problems With The UEF - Part 6 (The Kennel & Drones):

@ftxcommando

Basically all of these suggestions do nothing and keep kennel irrelevant because hives being able to instantly swap bp while being cheaper means they’re superior in 99% of situations.

I would argue that these changes will at least make the Kennel a far more viable option overall. It'll have its own strengths over the Hive. The Hive would still be the "King of assistance" but at least the Kennel would have some strengths of its own, as well.

Specifically if the cost reduction, rebuild time reduction, and the Patrol/Attack-move order goes through. That last one would be quite the change, actually.

This would make it a far more competitive and balanced option rather than a one-sided story, as it is right now.

How would it be quite the change? Why would I build an engie station to get reclaim which can die to some dude that is putting 6 mass a second into int spam? The HP buff does essentially nothing useful for survivability, it means my drones will die when the int does a turn rather than as soon as the int gets into range. It's nice in terms of making it less frustrating for a gust of wind to cripple your eco balance, but you're still keeping the kennels in base on your actual win conditions not dicking around on the map.

Really all engie stations need is a hive nerf so it has the mass efficiency of kennels and maybe making kennels slightly more mass efficient so that there exists some tradeoff between the sheer utility of hive and the objectively worse translation of bp that drones provide.

Even with the BP reduction of the Hive (if it even goes through) it would still keep the Kennel out of the equation as the drones would not be as effective as the Hive.

I wouldn't reduce the BP, I'd just make it more expensive. I would disagree, there is definitely a premium you can attach to the utility of hive where you can tradeoff decisions between hive/kennel. But that's mostly me looking at it from a teamgame point of view. I assume if both have a tradeoff against the other, it would still be healthy in a 1v1 just the same. Currently you just never really make a kennel in a 1v1.

Like the engie stations costing mass to rebuild drones isn’t the problem because the removal of drones means you’re now floating mass with nothing to do. I’d rather the stations had the bp to make a drone in 3 seconds given I had the resources to rebuild them (which I will since all my bp just died).

Well, this would depend on the situation as well - but losing drones overall is quite a penalty at 40 seconds per drone. Floating mass may not be an issue but having the drones to divert the mass (even if you're stalled) is still a benefit.

When does it depend on the situation? Floating mass is always an issue and that's a gigantic component to why kennels are trash; you are required to float mass while hives are not.

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@rowey

@ComradeStryker https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pull/4132 Fix for the Wreckage Mass Discrepancy

👍


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

0

@ftxcommando

How would it be quite the change? Why would I build an engie station to get reclaim which can die to some dude that is putting 6 mass a second into int spam? The HP buff does essentially nothing useful for survivability, it means my drones will die when the int does a turn rather than as soon as the int gets into range. It's nice in terms of making it less frustrating for a gust of wind to cripple your eco balance, but you're still keeping the kennels in base on your actual win conditions not dicking around on the map.

I think you may be mistaking the changes I offered. They are quite a lot of changes, so, lets see if I can clear it up:

The ACU shoulder drones would have 51 HP, instead of 6. This would just make it so - as you said - 'a gust of wind' doesn't cripple them.

Kennel drones should get about 151 HP so they can still survive the T2 stage if they decide to be used outside of a base - for reclaim purposes or just whilst traveling in general.

SACU drones would only get 201 HP so they don't die to random AoE in the late stages. I've seen a Spy plane crash right in the middle of a bunch of drones and bam, there goes all my Build Power. Both Kennels and T3 Drones.

That's the HP difference - it's only to prevent them from dying to random AoE... Anything direct would still be well, dreadful for you, but would still be a good counter to flying drones.


The other changes, though, would still benefit the Kennel, regardless if it's being compared to the Hive. The Rebuild time is a definite problem, and that needs to be tacked. The rebuild cost, as you said, isn't a huge issue, but you're still paying so much for a unit that you already built. Making payments on top of that is an insult to injury.

Allowing them to reclaim with a patrol or attack move order would make them more viable as engineers too... this would also encourage using drones outside of your base and to utilize the range that they provide.

As for the other options, those are still questionable to me - as limiting the range is detrimental to the Kennel as it's the only perk the Kennel has over the Hive - but I offered them in hopes someone could expand on them with more balance in mind.

I wouldn't reduce the BP, I'd just make it more expensive. I would disagree, there is definitely a premium you can attach to the utility of hive where you can tradeoff decisions between hive/kennel. But that's mostly me looking at it from a teamgame point of view. I assume if both have a tradeoff against the other, it would still be healthy in a 1v1 just the same. Currently you just never really make a kennel in a 1v1.

Yeah, and that's an issue with how they work. Options 3 A & B would work well in 1v1s!
It would encourage the production of drones - much alike Sparkies - and would encourage them to be used away from your base.

In team games, this would not work as well, but it would still be an option available to the player - though again, I'm not for the range limitations.

When does it depend on the situation? Floating mass is always an issue and that's a gigantic component to why kennels are trash; you are required to float mass while hives are not.

My apologies for the typo. I meant "Floating mass may not be an issue..."
But yes, it does depend on the situation as even if you are mass stalling, diverting the mass into a unit or structure could be the difference between you winning or losing the game.

If you're mass stalling already, and you lose your drones - it's not neccisarrily true that you will be floating mass. For 1, you could still be mass stalled, and you were just diverting the mass into an experimental or some other structure like a Nuke, or for 2, you do start to store mass, but in 40 seconds, I doubt that is enough time for you to float it to your teammates. By the time the mass BP returns, you can spend it all the same, again.

But I agree with your overall point, Kennels are quite bad, at least with some minor changes that I offered, they won't be as bad as they are now. Though, again, I don't think they will ever compare to the Hive - they may come close but likely never match it.

At least... not unless a dire rework is made to them. But I doubt that would happen.

To me, I just say keep the Kennels as they are, just make them less of a hassle to use. Improve the quality-of-life of them a bit more and they would be far better than their current iteration.


~ Stryker

Can you send me some mass?

0

You won’t use them outside of your base for reclaim unless they’re so ridiculously cheap and fast that it breaks the game. Why would I ever make this unit to go get reclaim when it can die in a few seconds to an int? An engineer can die quickly too, but a new engie quickly takes its place since in late game reclaim fields you build factories near the reclaim piles and losing a few engies to a variety of game elements is irrelevant.