Fanart, can't wait to watch the tournament.
Every Cybran T3 air unit has stealth, even free stealth in the case of the spy plane. The Soul Ripper is the most lackluster air experimental that doesn't really do anything interesting. I've never seen a cool play with a bug, unlike a CZAR or an Ahwassa ctrl+k. Giving it stealth, for free or at a constant energy cost, would give it more of a niche without really buffing it all that much. Thoughts?
Race science and shitty balance takes, this post has it all.
The Scathis, Mavor, and Salvation are pretty unique but they all need to have very long range to be useable at all (due to their buildtime, cost, and low hp).
Asking to make a game ender arty short range for faction diversity is like asking for one faction to have slower ASF. It will make the unit useless.
Cybran T3 Engineers can build Salems on land like tiny experimentals
Aeon quite simply adds more complexity to any ladder match. Both the Aeon player and their opponent have to use more of the systems of the game to stay competitive. The Aeon player has to use radar and intel effectively. The opponent is pressured to participate more in the air game because bombers are one of Aurora's counters. The Aeon player almost always has to use his commander in combat to fill the gaps in Aeon army composition or during tech transition, so they have to multitask more. The opponent has to remember to keep their commander safe from a mercy snipe that could strike at any minute, etc.
More complexity means more opportunity for fun when you succeed, but more salt when you fail.
Tech 1 PT boats for all factions that are cheap, low hp, maneuverable and fast. The LABs of the sea. They have high alpha strike with their torpedoes but lengthy reload. Torpedo defense will make them much less effective. Microed well they can counter frigates but are countered themselves by subs, who have torpedoes that can lock onto them.
I'm pretty sure Cybran not being able to have tech and gun at the same time is very much an intentional design decision and would really affect balance.
Also I like having gun and laser on different arms that way I can have more range on telemaser snipes.
I agree that you can't really play very passively with the Soul Ripper, but people don't often want to chase things with their ASF into enemy territory over potential SAMs. Having the Soul Ripper disappear from T3 radar coverage if it does get away is still helpful because it means the other team's air can't have ASF in a good position to intercept it all the time. You could also bring it back to your base and control-K it without people knowing, etc.
This wouldn't be a major change, but that's why I think it should be a no brainer? It's a mediocre unit that nobody would be mad to see get a small buff like that which has factional flavor and could lead to more exciting games-- we all know that people don't scout as much as they should and having a Soul Ripper appear out of nowhere with a cloud of stealthed Gemini around it to snipe an SMD or something would be cool.
The vast majority (80%) of everything wrong with FAF as a social multiplayer experience is bad map culture and lobby sim. The other 19% has to do with teammates who don't communicate, speak in another language, or are toxic. The final 1% is disconnects, lag, and performance issues in the late game but there's not much you can do about that.
I find myself enjoying ladder far more than team games recently, but the latter is often dead...
I think you overrate the impact of aesthetics a bit. It can have some effect but since they are subjective it's hard to quantify the contribution they make to what factions people play.
When you say Seraphim and Aeon have "near identical play rates" are you talking about team games or ladder? Because in my experience Seraphim is way more common on ladder than Aeon.
Also nobody ever said Aeon is unpopular because it is bad. It is unpopular because it has a higher skill floor. (Harder to play=/= bad). Yet I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing, nor would I make any faction more generic to chase some arbitrary 25%/25%/25%/25% play rate distribution.
Sounds like a perfect mod for my No Rush No Nuke No Arty No Tele 12 the Pass games B)
"because the argument that Aeon is strong yet unpopular makes no sense."
But weak or strong is a false dichotomy. I would say that overall each of the four factions is roughly equal strength. However, it is more complicated to use the full strength of the Aeon faction compared to say, Thaam and Zthuee spam into Illshavoh spam rallied to wherever the enemy is.
Seraphim having the same play rate as Aeon seems odd to me but idk I don't have the analytics. Also I'm about 900 ladder so maybe that skews it.