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.