Restructure air by delaying tech 3 air


Identify a problem

Tech 3 air dominates the air scene, especially when a map has a dedicated air slot. For the majority of maps and players it makes the previous air stages completely obsolete due to the oppressive nature of Air Superiority Fighters (ASF).

The issue that I'd like to tackle is that this starts at about minute 10 - 12. And once it starts it is a self-fulfilling prophecy because of how adjacency tears down the costs of producing ASF.

Showcase the problem

Look up any replay, it doesn't really matter what map it is. Once ASF are on the battlefield any previous stage is essentially worthless if your opponent is capable of managing its ASF properly.

Find a solution

My proposition to the situation is to naturally delay the production of tech 3 air units, while at the same time making it more difficult to continuously produce them.

(1) Increase build time of tech 3 air factories

  • Tech 3 HQ: from 10400 to 12000
  • Tech 3 support: from 3400 to 5000

A natural reduction to slow down the first and subsequent tech 3 air units by forcing the player to produce more build power.

(2) Increase the energy cost of tech 3 air factories

  • Tech 3 HQ: from 99400 to 120000
  • Tech 3 support: from 40000 to 50000

A natural reduction to slow down the first tech 3 air unit by forcing the air player to produce more initial power.

(3) Decrease efficiency of assisting air factories

Push the build rate of tech 3 air factories from 120 to 150, which is a 25% increase. Accordingly increase the build time of tech 3 (and experimental) air units by 25% too. This discourages assisting air factories, a natural reduction to slow down the first tech 3 air unit and subsequent air units.

(4) Decrease adjacency efficiency of tech 2 and tech 3 power generators

  • Tech 2: from 0.125 to 0.1
  • Tech 3: from 0.1875 to 0.125

At the moment an air grid decreases the energy costs of an ASF by up to 75% when the air factory is fully capped with tech 3 power generators. That is an absurd amount. With these changes the energy costs of an ASF is reduced by up to 50%.

(5) Increase build time and mass cost while decreasing damage and hit points of SAMs

  • Build time: 1195 -> 1300
  • Mass cost: 800 -> 950
  • Damage: 1200 -> 1000
  • Hitpoints: 7000 -> 6000

SAMs are extremely oppressive since we fixed splash damage from 'missing'. And even more so against tech 2 air units as they tend to take out a tech 2 air unit in one salvo. With these changes:

  • All tech 2 fighter / bombers can survive 1 salvo by default
  • All tech 3 spy planes except for Cybran can survive 1 salvo by default

Justify the solution

With these changes we delay the tech 3 air scene, and by doing so give more room for the tech 1 and tech 2 air scene to thrive. We do so without adjusting the statistics of mobile units, and therefore the balance changes do not impact how a battle situation is perceived by the player. But we do give room for more variance in the type of situations the player can encounter.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

I’d be fine with reducing how impactful adjacency is, the changes about sams, assistance, cost, etc aren’t going to lead to variance but rather janus all in working all the time on every map.

Sounds more like an issue with the Janus. I'm sure the balance team can tackle that one separately.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

No, because janus is the worst t2 air option. T2 air is already more oppressive than T3 air in games, this is just going to make it obvious to lower rated players.

I actually had this discussion with Suzuji where even on dual gap when it’s played seriously it can often be decided at t2 air stage, and that’s probably the least t2 air friendly map possible barring astro.

Nerfing t2 air is also not that simple because it has a cost balanced around making it a viable tool to switch to in 1v1, nerfing it to oblivion for teamgames will convert 1v1s into tank spam more than it already is.

Looking at this again, I’m realizing this combination of changes would actually make air even more ridiculously volatile. You lose that 50v60 asf engagement or get caught out of position, not only will you now be 30 asf behind due to the snowball of air fights but you’ll be spending twice as much in order to catch up once again while also spending several thousands more in sams to prevent t3 air being abused.

I'd like to see fewer straight T3 rushes, and I hope some of these suggestions will accomplish this! Am not able to comment on specifics, I don't have enough game sense to understand all the consequences.

Would upvote Jip's comment twice if i could.

"Design is an iterative process. The necessary number of iterations is one more than the number you have currently done. This is true at any point in time."

Newest map: luminary.png

The SAMs nerf feels too strong for me as it gives an alternative option to just trying to build air (either if you've lost air, or dont want to try and contest it). I'd rather a slight buff to T3 MAA and just the hit points nerf to SAMs, and if the damage was to be reduced such that T2 air doesnt die then adjust the rate of fire to compensate (e.g. if reducing the damage from 1.2k to 1k then make them fire 20-25% faster depending on if rough equivalence or a very slight nerf is desired)

However I don't have an issue with making upgrading to T3 air slightly harder and reducing the adjacency bonus, although I'd be inclined to go for a smaller reduction (e.g. to 60% from 75% instead of 50%) to see how it plays out since adjacency won't just affect T3 air but also other units.

Sams received a major buff when we fixed this issue:

As an example, the average air unit could completely 'evade' the damage of a sam if it was moving fast enough and not directly into the sam. Now the sam always deals damage - and it will always destroy the average air unit in one salvo. That is why they are so oppressive now. That is why I proposed a reduction in damage too.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

like in other thread, I agree asf are op, but won't this just postpone the same problem a few minutes later as you said? there will still be dedicated air slot that rushes t3 air on those maps, and asf will still dominate air everywhere once someone gets to them with no valid response other than your own asf, the problem imo is in the nature of asf being "best in all air combat situations" rather than different air units being good in different air combat situations, like other layers (land, navy) have, you don't just spam 1 land unit or 1 navy unit to deal with either layer's units like you do for air layer (asf)

I don't have a ready pre-designed solution to this with exact stat changes, but rebalancing units themselves seems like the only way to get other air than asf used for air combat once asf appear in game

I agree that there are better solutions. But I think the changes I propose take us one step in the right direction. I also do not have the statistics or time to delve into the matter deeper, as I suspect once you start changing one aspect of air then you end up having to change other aspects too.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

This is not the solution I'd go for. I'd rather reduce the powerspike at the beginning of t3 air.

  • ground to air before sams/t3maa doesnt damage strats if microed properly
  • all air units get slaughtered by asf extremely cost efficiently (mass wise, even if you consider the mass cost of t3 pgen requirement)
  • mobile flak is too weak against t2 air so any nerf to t3 air makes t2 air even more dominant (unless it's shielded at least)
  • acus in general are pretty easy to snipe which makes t2 air potentially really toxic. Partially this is a consequence of: mobile flak being weak, acu being extremely high dps and relatively low hp (counting gun and overcharge. If you count oc with t2 pgen this is probably the highest dps/hp unit in the game besides mercy), lack of incremental defensive acu upgrades (especially since u have to commit to wasting time afking acu to even get one)

Anything that delays Strat bomber rush is good in my book. Maps with dedicated air slot too often result in games where the team with the first Strat bomber out (and wrecks eco of opposing air player) gains (in all likelihood) permanent air superiority, resulting in a win 10 or 15 mnutes later. For all other players in the losing team, those 10/15 minutes feel utterly futile. Build AA? Lose your lane. Win your lane? Get eco/power sniped from air etc etc

This is not the solution I'd go for.

This isn't intended as the only solution - just a step in the right direction.

ground to air before sams/t3maa doesnt damage strats if microed properly

Strats fly at a height of 20, which is quite high. Tech 1 and 2 (M)AA would be a lot more effective if the average elevation of an air unit was a few units lower. I'd also argue that strats should not move faster than a tech 1 interceptor 🙂

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

I don't think this is something that can really be fixed simply by adjusting costs, build times, etc.

Personally I think air needs to be rebalanced as a whole. T3 is always going to be rushed to simply because the first team with it has such a massive advantage. T2 air snipes will always be an efficiency goldmine because the cost to stop one is way more than the cost to execute one.

The first problem being that you will always need to invest more in static and mobile AA to deter t2/t3 air snipes than the player investing in the snipe will, not including what you'll lose due to said snipes or bombing runs. Whether this is actually a problem or just a fact of life, is up to the balance team. Either static AA needs to be cheaper, or mobile AA needs to be stronger.

Next, not having T2 fighters for all factions is what leads to ASF being to OP in the first place. Inties will simply never stand up to ASF. If players had better options for T2 air-to-air, I don't think we'd see the rush to T3 be so mandatory.

Obviously this isn't a total solution, but I think these two things would go further than adjusting build times and such.

Giving the inti sufficient hit points so that it doesn't get one shot would help a long way to stand up against ASFs

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

@jip said in Restructure air by delaying tech 3 air:

Giving the inti sufficient hit points so that it doesn't get one shot would help a long way to stand up against ASFs

Yeah but then you’re making it so inties intercepting a transport or bomber need less worry about avoiding defending inties.

This would lead to the same issue I have with the 135 hp flare which will go after expanding engineers and not give a damn about guarding tanks as it has plenty hp to survive….

Or you reduce the damage of an ASF - whatever direction works.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

I agree with Jip here

In my humble opinion delaying T3 air at least for a few more minutes will give other land based players a better opportunity to defend themselves from that early T3 air aggression, and allowing for more dynamic air play at the T1/T2 phase.

So if there is no dedicated air slot it will make it a lot harder for a player to rush T3 air and make them more vulnerable to ground attack before they can make an overwhelming air force and dominate the game.

I cant count the number of games ive played where myself and others have said oh Sh*****t they have T3 air and we dont GG

and as Jip said its not a complete fix of all issues raised, merely a step in the right direction.

Also as Blodir and Snagglefox said T2 flak is quite week and T2 bombers are strong so maybe theres room for adjustments there too. Personaly i would half the damage of T2 bombers so they are less effective at sniping and more of a supporting unit while improving air - air capabilities.

Half the damage of t2 bombers and you just immediately dumpstered a full half of the comeback mechanics in the game.

How about you halve ACU dps so you don’t need to send it out at min 2 in teamgames 4head

@snagglefox said in Restructure air by delaying tech 3 air:

Next, not having T2 fighters for all factions is what leads to ASF being to OP in the first place. Inties will simply never stand up to ASF. If players had better options for T2 air-to-air, I don't think we'd see the rush to T3 be so mandatory.

This is so ridiculously overstated. Has anybody here tried to beat titans with strikers? Titans with ilshies? The former you automatically lose harder than ints lose against asf. The latter is quite similar to janus/notha/swifty/int blob situation. If dude with ASF sends in 10 or less, they die and you snowball an air lead. If he builds up his blob and keeps it safe, he wins and you lose the game if you failed to do the correct level of damage for your team to compensate your delayed air. I’ve managed to maintain air control with janus against ASF to min 30 in a game btw.

“oh but air is so different from land because it can get anywhere.” You can t1 transport percies in front of ACUs minute 9 on any generic teamgame map and instantly kill the ACU if it doesnt have either a lot of t2 support, t3 units within 30 seconds, or is Aeon.

The concept of “delayed air” being “air that isn’t an immediate t3 rush” is no different than every land slot in a teamgame being “delayed” because they are always gauged with the benchmark of a player rushing t3 land since somebody, somewhere on the map is doing it. If your long stay on t1 or t2 doesn’t compensate in value compared to that player, you will lose just the same.

I very rarely get t3 land 2 minutes later than t3 air is out, at best 1 strat will go around and kill 5-6 mexes spread across 4 players. That should not destroy your game unless it’s a map those 5-6 strat bombs can hit 10-12 mexes. The exception here is when I intentionally play to extend t2 land stage, just as I night extend t2 air stage. However, it’s basically impossible to NOT get good value for t2 air while it’s super easy to fail to get value for your t2 land since the former has a whole map to find weakpoints and the latter requires specific conditions at a specific point on the map.