I like Blodir's ideas on making the game less static in the mid-late game, especially making t3 units a bit faster.
I think RAS sacus are a bit overpowered, but if they provided say, half the resources they currently do they would be total garbage and would be sufficiently nerfed into oblivion. I don't mind them as a game mechanic, because they are pretty similar to fabs for income generation, and the build power is nice to help replace a few (hundred) t1 engies we would otherwise see . Maybe 7 mass and 750 power, and a build power nerf would make them quite balanced. Maybe we could go with a nice even 10 mass income, 1000 power generation, and increase the cost by about 50% (10k mass?). As it is they are a bit less efficient than fabs for eco (if you don't have a use for the bp), so that would be a huge nerf, and they would be swiftly replaced by t3 fab farms.
I also think reclaim is a bit OP. Part of the reason it is difficult to actually punish the "inefficient" ras sacu stockpiling is because there is the inherent defender's advantage, which is compounded by reclaim donations from any attack that doesn't completely win over the territory. Maybe 50% mass value for reclaim would be good, I dunno. I have always felt like reclaim makes the game more defensive and static than it should, plus it makes it a lot more work to learn an optimal build order on a new map because the amount of reclaim and distance away it is changes everything about your build. If anyone wants to make any comparisons to starcraft 2, this is one of the biggest IMO. You can do basically the same builds on every map of starcraft.
Also, I don't think it makes any difference whatsoever whether the reclaim proportions differ for different tiers of units, but I don't see why it shouldn't be the same either. In basically every single battle, the exact amount of reclaim is quite difficult to predict, because it is impacted by artillery shots landing on wrecks, overkill, etc.
@Kweef_Chief_Noob If you're sacu are sitting in your base, reclaim doesn't matter, because if you manage to be in a position to kill several SACU in the enemy main base you've already won the game.
Increasing mass cost of SACU would also nerf them into oblivion.
A straight 10 mass 1000 power is better. As it is, RAS Sacu are horribly inefficient compared to fabs.
Are you trolling, or just incredibly stupid? Ras sacus are actually basically just as efficient as fabs when you factor in their bp and dps; everyone knows this. Both can pay for themselves in just over six minutes. From many months ago on the old forum:
As some have already done, looking only at direct mass costs, an SCU costs 6500 mass to produce 11 mass/second, which gives a payback time of 590sec (9min51s).
A MassFab costs 4000 mass to produce 16 mass/second, which gives a payback time of 250sec (4min10s).
Except that MassFabs also need a constant supply of power -1500 power/second, which is provided by power generators that also have a mass cost. A T3 power generator produces 2500 energy/second for a mass of 3240, the energy cost is about 1.3 mass/(energy/s). A MassFab therefore has an additional cost of 1.31500 = 1950 mass from generators that are exclusively dedicated to supplying its energy. This brings the payback time to 372 sec (6min12s). On the other hand, SCU produce 1020 energy/sec, which reduces the number of power generators to be built, this can be considered as a cost reduction of 1.31020 = 1326 mass. This reduces the payback time to 470sec (7min50sec).
Taking the energy into account, a SACU needs only 26% more time than a T3 MassFab to be profitable. If we add the mobility, the tankiness, the builtin turrent, the reduced space consumption and the engineering suite, you explain why it is better to spam SACU than MassFab.
As Strogo said, these calculations somewhat understate how useful fabs are because they do not factor in any adjacency bonuses.
But the buildpower of ras coms is certainly quite important as well, so it's important to quantify that. They provide 56 bp, which is equal to almost 2 t3 engineers, or slightly more than a hive upgraded to the second tier. So that is worth about 600 mass alone, meaning they will pay for themselves almost a minute faster, if you value the bp. Even if you are not using the bp constantly, it is still worth a significant fraction of that number.
Their gun does 300 dps, which is almost as much as two t1 pd. Especially given that sacus are mobile making that dps more useful than pd, we could value that at about 500 mass (the cost of two t1 pd), meaning they pay off another 45 seconds faster (if you value that capability). Obviously ras coms are very rarely used as combat units, but IF they save you from building extra tele def, then you would need to incorporate that value, even if you don't think it's worth quite that much.
Having at least a few sacus just to drop on big reclaim piles is also pretty useful because of their hp.
So if you factor those things in, they are actually pretty close to as cost effective as t3 mass fabs, less any adjacency bonuses, which can be pretty significant. But, I would say the adjacency bonuses are somewhat offset by the sacu mobility, hp, and compactness, so you can protect them all under one assisted shield (which, conveniently, the sacus can assist themselves).
Overall, I think ras coms are superior to fabs, but fabs are a little better if you don't have much use for sacu bp, and aren't too worried about them dying and having to invest a lot to protect them. And still, it depends on the game situation, so it's hard to say one is just better than the other. It can be a good idea to build some fabs for more efficient eco first, then transition to ras coms when their other characteristics become more valuable. Maybe you have plenty of bp and need more eco before you can even take advantage of the sacu bp.
Edit: the combat ability of sacus is very situation dependent, even for the tele def example I gave. If you have 30 stacked in one spot of your base (dealing 9k dps), perhaps the marginal (additional) benefit of more tele def is basically zero, because you kill an acu teleporting fast enough anyway. But if they are teleporting shielded sera sacus to you, and hitting your shields with arty at the same time, maybe the extra dps becomes important to keep your shields from taking too much damage and collapsing.
I'd like it if they just costed a bit more - if i'm interested in ecoing, and have the choice between a mass fab farm and ras sacu, if i factor in the cost of shielding that farm it costs a similar amount (slightly more efficient but not by much), isnt mobile, requires more building area, more apm, explodes more violently when killed, doesnt have build power, doesnt have a (basic) weapon, and cant be upgraded (e.g. to make it more powerful in combat) overall it's by far the worse option.
A RAS SACU gives you huge flexibility as others have pointed out, while being almost as good at eco as the dedicated eco buildings - i.e. there's a tiny downside to getting them, and multiple significant upsides that vastly outweigh it.
A 20% cost increase would give a clearer tradeoff - eg comparing a simple 4 t3 power 4 t3 mass fab 1 t2 shield farm (using t3 fab instead of t2 fab since t3 is simpler/fewer buildings, although still more than just clicking repeat on RAS SACUs), factoring in the cost of 1 t3 shield to protect it, and decreasing the cost by the mass value of building t3 engis to cover the same build power, you have a payback time of 504s for the mass fab farm, while a cybran RAS has a payback time of 538s.
In terms of the mentioned nerf to bp as an alternative, if Cybran RAS had 20 build power instead, it's 'build power adjusted' payback time would only increase slightly from 536 to 572, so the mass fab farm would be 13% better from an eco point of view, but with all of the disadvantages (the difference falls to 12% if you value build power based on hives instead of t3 engis)
Now if the RAS had a payback time of say 630s on the same measure, there is a clearer tradeoff - mass fab farm is 25% better eco wise, but RAS gives you all of the other benefits (and I expect would still end up being preferred in many cases for that reason).
I also like the suggestion of someone to nerf the power given by RAS as an alternative, to force players to build t3 power - at the moment it's so simple to just build ras on repeat, and you get sufficient power for the majority of things you'd want to build. If only a small amount of extra power was given then people would have to build more T3 power in many cases, which would then make 'game enders' more effective at actually ending the game.
Although a separate topic, I'd also agree with the reclaim creating a strong disincentive to attack late game unless you're confident of overrunning the opponent's defences, such that a reduction in the reclaim % e.g. to 50% seems like it would still reward people who reclaim without having the situation where an attack that e.g. does twice as much (mass) damage as the units cost ends up making you worse off (since if the enemy eco'd initially before preparing defences they'll both be ahead of you in eco, and have a bunch of reclaim to make up for the damage you caused and then some). The flipside is reclaim offers a chance for people to get back in the game which is also important (assuming they survive the attack) which is why I wouldn't want it nerfed massively, and I don't feel that strongly about it anyway.
I am definetly less qualified to propose changes than most here in the thread.
However, I will write down my personal impression playing this game over the years:
a) RAS sACUS need an income debuff and higher build time.
They can walk to safety, build defenses, suck mass, are walking build capacity and produce resources. I think the place UEF drones are at is quite nice. They are a versatile build capacity option which however is less efficient than the good ol' engineers. In that same respect, RAS sACUS should be an inefficient but versatile & in some situations valid option. I'd like to see a hard debuff on income like plain simple -50%.
If this is "too much", redefining their dual role as sturdy engineers to suck reclaim and build things could be emphasized by giving them more build capacity.
b) T3 Mass Extractors need a debuff in income.
I understand the ease of +200% for each step, but I think +200% (T2) /+100% (T3) is also simple enough. Additionally make them cheaper. In short: Make T3 Mexes more available but less over-the-top. In my opinion a full T3 Eco is just too much. This would also encourage teching more than just your very defensible mexes but makes it also valid to keep fighting for mex control.
c) Nerf Reclaim values somewhat.
I love the Reclaim idea in this game and it's really a core mechanic, so it should certainly be striking one. But the current values are in my humble opinion too high. I dont support nerfing them TO 25% but perhaps BY ~25% (if I am not mistaken it is sitting at roughly 80% so that would make it go 60%). This also helps with emphasizing map control. A failed attack should be punished and control of reclaim fields still a thing. But I think -25% mass reclaim still gets the job done to make failed attacks painful while still having very relevant reclaim.
Mass Income in the late game is ridicolous and can get out of control. Yes, the game has to end at some point, but it doesn't have to spiral out so hard I think. Simulatenously, the game doesn't emphasize having control of out-laying mexes past T1/T2 phase enough. Why invest into very expensive upgrades somewhere on the map that you have to fight for (which might gift alot of mass to your enemy) if you might as well just build highly defendable sACUS instead?
The game tends to stagnate in the late game in my opinion as there is too much reclaim building up, ecoing up is too efficient and base T3 mass extractors pumping out mass like crazy. Map control is not of great importance while static defenses (like T3 AA) become cheap enough by your massive economy to spam around (arguably, this is more of a team game issue like on Setons). The game tends to discourage fighting over bases and ground in late game, but rather is "building up for the killing strike". I find this a bit disappointing.
Especially the last two points are obviously very huge topics and would make a somewhat big change to the game, but in my opinion, it would be for the better.
Why do mass fabricators even explode by the way?
Power plant explosions are great, sniping someones power grid is difficult enough, with the volatility it becomes a bigger threat and more interesting.
But actually, if mass fabricators had massive hitpoints enough to survive an exploding T3 power plant, sniping the power grid is even more effective. If the mass fabricators survive they continue to drain power without producing significant mass anymore. Low-level players will just be completely out, and high-level players need to expend focus/APM to deactivate all mass fabricators.
Send 2 t1 bombers
Kill t2 mass fab around mex
Blow up all mass storage around t3 mex and take it down to half hp
ras sacus need income nerf to 600 energy and 9 mass
if an issue is that the current RAS sACU is a multirole unit for ecoing, fighting, and building,
It is a preset for an upgrade. There is a base unit with combat, construction, and resource stats that can be upgraded.
If one reduces the stats of the base unit the other upgrades can be indirectly reduced.
To upgrade costs resources and APM for factions where multiple upgrades are possible. No mention of explosion radius and damage, speed, immobilization, veterancy, or other qualities. The sACUs (and gateway) remain a part of the game. If there weren't already an sACU rebalance coming I'd volunteer a mod (https://forum.faforever.com/topic/759/balance-thread-guidelines, https://forum.faforever.com/topic/739/guide-creating-a-basic-balance-mod-with-a-merge-blueprint, and for example https://github.com/FAForever/fa/commit/39032bf2c83a9024901db3784f0a6c1aecef2465)
looks like someone already made that comment https://forum.faforever.com/topic/1027/the-scu-rebalance/29