Proposal: T3 Arty & Movement

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Idea: Provide Mobile Arties (mainly the Trebuchet) with the ability to fire while moving

Reasoning:
TL:DR - Sniper+Shield mix is incredibly oppressive and while UEF has some interaction possibility due to Spearhead/Demolisher/Parashield mix, Cybran is left out in the dust hard.

I'm going to be looking at this from the perspective of 2v2/3v3 play, I don't really see this problem existing quite as largely in 1v1 or larger teamgames.

So with the recent balance changes to the T3 stage we've seen the introduction of a general intended meta with how t3 units counter one another.

We have Titans/Loyalists as the raid heavy T3 units intended to manage the transition from t2 to t3 and potentially deal with loose mexes around the map.

We have Harbs/Othuums that bridge between Titans/Loyalists and Percy/Bricks and are able to handle the former quite well while losing to the latter handily once mass equivalent numbers are on the field.

Then we have Snipers as the sort of penultimate answer to the "direct fire arms race" where you sacrifice everything in order to get range + massive alpha. They are the Seraphim/Aeon answer to Percy/Brick mixes.

However, this then gets into the intended counter for the sniper + shield mix of Aeon/Seraphim. The intent, as far as I'm aware, was to make snipers possibly countered by Titan/Loyalist spam which the snipers would have a difficult time retreating from while also not being quite as mass concentrated as the siege bots.

However, once you build up some sort of significant concentration of snipers alongside shields and some assortment of harbs/othuums to handle things that manage to get close, this counter becomes unrealistic. If the initial switch to titans to counter the snipers fails, you're going to have a tough time managing to rescale enough titans to attempt a push once again and the enemy will likely have begun including more othuum/harbs into their mix while also being able to secure the reclaim of your initial failed titan push. Or at the least, be able to deny you it while continuing to get good trades with their snipers.

The next typical solution is to utilize t3 mobile arty as the indirect fire method that attempts to beat snipers at their own game while sacrificing even more utility in defeating unit pushes. The big problem however, is that t3 mobile arty is unable to fire while moving meaning that snipers will still force you to concede massive territory until you get to some particularly safe location where you have your own stationary shields, pd, whatever. This is even MORE difficult against aeon which can make disruptors to efficiently defeat your shields and then snipe your mobile arty if they have no t2 arty support.

The UEF have a bit more leeway here because they have two units that are reasonable responses to sniper + shield spam. If all else fails, they can always make a fatboy which is supreme at forcing snipers to concede land for obvious reasons. But it seems quite obnoxious to have to be forced to transition to T4 tech to respond to this inevitable unit mix, particularly in 2v2s on maps like Funeral Plains or Canis where you have some open space in middle to abuse.

The UEF also get the spearhead, which is basically the solution I'm trying to give Cybran to answer Snipers. Spearhead can shoot while moving while also having double the damage for mass of arty. UEF also has their own mobile shields and so does not need to worry about their spearheads being sniped by t1 bombers provided they have proper coverage. The spearheads are capable of taking shields down quickly while then allowing the occasional demolisher to land a shot that can kill the low hp mobile shields and destroy the protection of the snipers.

It would of course be easier to use this unit mix if demolishers could also move while firing, but UEF has some ability to answer the typical sniper+shield unit mix. Cybran on the otherhand, is just boned. Not only does their t3 arty require them to be stationary, but they also have no mobile shield so they can't really keep forcing snipers back without immediately losing their arty to t1 bombers. They specifically really need some adjustment that allows them to handle this mix without being forced to go into Mega and T2 arty base. The best solution I can come up with is allowing trebuchet to move while firing, which also has some synergy with their mobile stealth as it makes it more cancer for snipers to actually target the arty as they retreat/advance.

Replays:
https://replay.faforever.com/10902518 - Game of me having to deal with Turbo's sniper mix, granted this was when I was still adjusting to the T3 changes and didn't have the idea of using spearheads/arty to handle them. Mainly including this to showcase that snipers really do lock you down to some sort of indirect fire response.

https://replay.faforever.com/13326893 - Just a typical late game sniper mix game in a 2v2.

https://replay.faforever.com/13309613 - This was basically the game that made me realize spearhead is a necessity for UEF if you plan on handling sniper mix.

https://replay.faforever.com/13360108 - A LotS game of Bully using spearhead against Blackheart sniper mix. Seems to do decently well, but again, Cybran has no similar response.

Problems:
It's very easy to revert back to the old situation at the start of the T3 rebalance patch where T3 arty was extremely oppressive and capable of crushing armies themselves. While this is a possibility and a reasonable worry, I do feel like it won't be as significant of a problem if you only give it to Cybran t3 arty and work from there. Cybran does not have shields (and their stationary ones are garbage anyway) meaning that air is a decent counter for their indirect fire relative to other factions. I also feel like Titan/Loya are a much better response to indirect fire than they are for snipers and that harbs/othuums can also supplement in that role as needed.

Other Ideas:
The only real things I could think of to address this problem (particularly for Cybran) were more invasive than this change. Things like giving an absolver ability to other units and things of that regard. I figured this was the least invasive change that would have as few reverberations across the rest of the meta.

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I'd argue that their fire randomness (the 'spread') is larger when they fire on the move. Not entirely sure (yet) how this would be implemented but this does apply some use to them becoming stationary / unpacking.

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I think that if you did this you'd still want Aeon T3 arty to be in some way better as you would be indirectly nerfing them in relation to the other factions who don't presently have this ability.

Also is any one making T1 spam to confuse targeting of snipers on any of the replays?

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"made sniper target : sniper > T3/T2 artillery > absolver > bubble shield > ACU/T3 units"
https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pull/3072/commits/10ba5651e76da24f69c68e1edfb51a573bca150c

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It doesn’t matter if Aeon arty is nerfed really. Aeon already has an anti shield unit, snipers, and mobile shields. If anything they are THE faction that should have the objectively worst t3 arty, especially since it’s intended to have a role as a counter to snipers these days which Aeon doesn’t really need them for since they already have an anti-shield unit + their own snipers.

Vain t1 arty spam to deal with snipers is a delay tactic that will always get crushed by a handful of harbs or othuums. You use it to stop your t2 arty base or t4 or whatever from getting hit by snipers before it’s up. Essentially, you dump mass for time. If that time gives you nothing, you’re still dead.

@keyser said in Proposal: T3 Arty & Movement:

"made sniper target : sniper > T3/T2 artillery > absolver > bubble shield > ACU/T3 units"
https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pull/3072/commits/10ba5651e76da24f69c68e1edfb51a573bca150c

Don’t understand how this addresses the issue at all?

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was answering to reckless. You can't use T1 as decoy to waste sniper shots.

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You can if they don't have visual which they won't all the time unless they also have a scout stream. Edit: I guess this also requires stealth or else all previously spotted T3 will still be preferentially targeted over T1 spam

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Wasn't the deploy/pack-up time for t3 artillery increased recently? I don't recall snipers being too oppressive before that change - but I only started playing high level teamgames recently, so I wouldn't know in any case. Would reverting that change solve or at least ameliorate this issue?

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t3 arty for aeon is already the worst. Insanely slow fire cycle + bad precision. It can move so it kinda balances that.
But giving movement advantage to cybran needs to up the aeon arty then, cause then trebushet is clearly way better.
Aeon t3 is not exactly very usefull, cause its fire cycle + damage distribution is not that good, and the only real advantage is outranging t3 uef pd. There is like a single reason why you would ever use t3 aeon pd.

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@archsimkat That, and a small decrease in speed and acceleration.

(For reference: https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pull/2978/commits)

Could additionally consider a small hp increase (along side the other stuff proposed) if not enough, as it makes small mistakes against snipers less punishing without affecting how it performs vs other t3 land much. This would only need to be for the Trebuchet as other factions have mobile shields. An increase to 1200 hp would let it survive 1 aeon shot or 2 sera shots.

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Mobile T3 arty are already overpowered from a stat perspective, with stupid AOE/DMG ratio on their range v units, so I don't support this change. It would turn the game into a T3 arty spam kite fest, which is immensly uninspiring.

buffing arty will just make other t3 units (Bricks etc) less relevant, and will even more cripple T2 armies, that will die before they even get in range.

If snipers are too OP then nerf them slightly.

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Would an increase to deploy and or move speed help this at all? If so how much?
I'm not sure if still available but t3 snipers (or 1 of the 2) are/were able to deploy manually and fire while moving.
I do support the overall suggestion or some variation of buffing (at least Trebuchet) however would like to see the option to manually deploy if not too invasive to increase some stat (less spread, fire speed etc.).
Either way tist may require nerfing a stat to gain the advantage of mobile fire but that can be fixed later.

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It would make more sense to increase T3 mobile arty range to significantly beyond that of snipers. Current range is 90, a buff to 118 (T2 stationary arty is 128 for reference) would make sense. Personally, I was a fan of the nerf to T3 arty unpack time and making T3 arty mobile would nullify that change.

Also, based on the OP, it sounds like this is more of a Cybran problem than a problem with T3 mobile artillery. I therefore propose the novel solution of allowing Cybran T3 land factories to construct Salems (Cybran T2 destroyers).

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@FunkOff I think this (range increase) would be a great change that removes how broken T2 stationary arty is.

However, we need to be very careful that we're not gimping Fatboy as its already in a precarious position, having a huge hit target, and mediocre range for a siege T4 unit.

This is definitely a cybran problem as all other factions can just build shields. But then Cybran have the strongest T4 units, so there really is much point in long drawn out T3 gameplay for Cybran. Megalith just dominate so hard.

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I can write up a giant post separately if it needs to meet forum guidelines, but in the meantime I want to offer another viewpoint.

I think we are going about this the wrong way. I do not think the answer to sniperbots being oppressive due to their damage and kiting is to make another unit that can counter them with damage, splash damage, and kiting. I think we are going backwards, and this will lead to more problems. Even more so if you have stealth trebuchet armies firing on the move. shudder

I think the root problem is the overtuned strength of mobile shields, absolvers, sniperbots, and a gun ACU with absurd range OC's and chrono/sheild. Fix this problem and the sniperbots will be much easier to deal with. Sniperbots really only work well with good support, and aeon has the best support options in the game to allow the sniperbot abuse.

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@FTXCommando - I'm in the rare position of agreeing with absolutely everything your just said 😄 Apart from, perhaps, the proposed solution...

I think a couple of better ones have been proposed in this thread. In order of what I think will be most successful:

  • Tune the interaction between Sniper/Shield mixes and Titan/Loyalist pushes specifically. +0.5 speed on the latter, 25% increase in shield drain, and a reduction of something like 10% in shield HP would, I think, have quite an effect.
  • Increase T3 Mobile Arty range as FunkOff suggested, though the balance with Fatboy needs to be careful. I believe Fatboy should still outrange them, so if you go this route the numbers I suggest are Mobile Arty 90 -> 105, Fatboy 100 -> 110. I don't think that would break Fatboy particularly. Keep the necessity to deploy, it's a key part of their balance in other matchups.

End of the day, I think it's also important to realise that "They can get this strong on the main battlefield so the others have to too" is not the only way to balance factions. You could pursue a route which recognises that, hey, a good Aeon or Seraphim player in the lategame with a properly constructed and microed army just cannot be stopped by UEF or Cybran on the ground without going T4, and give UEF and Cybran wins in other situations. Perhaps the solution to a group of Mobile Shields, Snipers, and Harbingers/Othuums should be T3 Gunships or Strats. Perhaps you could look at slowing down both Mobile Shields and Snipers, meaning that they take longer to cover ground while the team of Titans or Loyalists which can no longer take them head off spear around the back to attack your T3 PGens directly and crap all over your base to drop the Shields. Perhaps for Aeon, you make Disrupters and Snipers a unit pair by giving Snipers a penalty against Shields with a negative damage multiplier, forcing the Aeon player to spend mass on Distrupters which is wasted against Percivals, or mass on Snipers to counter Percivals which is wasted on Titans. Cybrans could then have their own strategies of sneakiness buffed, or just given a stronger win elsewhere.

There's lots of different ways to approach this and it deserves a bit more thought I think. Removing the deployment time, however, does not strike me as the correct answer. @Tex is correct, that is likely to lead to more problems down the line. It smells of a bandage on a larger problem to me.

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Maybe buff T2 MMLs to have range 80? (And buff T3 MML too)

Will need some testing to not made snipers obsolete but can be solution of problem

PS T3 MML don't looks OP aganist snipers in TS replay for me

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I'm generally in favor of all buffs to siege weapons. Tanks and direct fire bots have ruled FAF since the beginning.

Also Salems built from Cybran T3 land factory is still an option.

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