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Balance, faction analysis and ramblings

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  • Balance, faction analysis and ramblings

    For my balance suggestions id like to first adress a few issues and i will make several suggestions on how i think these issues might be addressed. However i am keenly aware that if they all these solutions would be used it would break the unit/game in a whole other way. So see this more as a list of suggestions than a full desired changelog. Even when i propose stat changes i am attempting to show my thoughts on in which direction the changes should go, and should not be intrepreted as the be all end all as proper testing should always be done. The structure will be as follows. First i will introduce a issue with either a unit or a general game mechanic. I will then list the contributing factors for creating said issue. Followed by an explanation in seperate paragrahps why i think it is a problem. And finally some proposed solutions. I will in time address each faction, but i will start with the faction that which, in my opinion, is the worst by far.

    ---THE GAALSIEN---
    ''g-forces are optional'' - gaalsien carrier aft gunner

    Oh boy the gaalsien, such great tools but very limited oppurtunities of using them.

    1.) Inability to effectively deal with early turrets
    2.) Lack of build timings
    3.) predictability through inflexibility
    4.) Unit cost/value mismatch
    5.) Poor anti-air

    points 2 and 3 are interwoven to the point that they will be addressed in a single paragraph.

    On the issue of turrets:
    The problem is both simple but has many parts, the gaalsien cant punish the coalition for using turrets in the earlygame. Even when the play is spotted 1 minute in advance they cant deal with it cost effective. turrets kill skimmers in 1 volley and the skimmer sensor range is practically equal to the turret range. This nigh guarantees a dead skimmer if a turret is found. The carrier is far too slow earlygame to come over and deal with it and it takes too long to assemble a sufficient skimmer army(~7) to destroy the turret with 2 additional skimmer losses. This combines with the inherent weakness to LAVs in the earlygame to that the gaalsien player is now behind on army, economy and map control. It is a almost no risk, very high reward play which is the very essence of an inbalance in my opinion.

    On the issue of build timing and predictability:
    Build timing, or the resource curve, isnt nearly as streamlined as the coal/soban factions. In practice the gaalsien and Khaaneph do not have a economy opener because it is incredibly risky. coal/soban can go support cruiser first safely as the AAV research fits so well in the resource curve. this makes the gaalsien opener incredibly predictable, the viable options are skimmers from 1 PC or skimmers from 2 PCs with slow transitions to their very expensive heavy railgun or the expensive assault ship tech. The only choice is to attack, which is hard due to the AAV timing and LAV production time. The Khaaneph solve this by having access to the blast drone, forcing the opponent to invest in scouting and defense. Also in the late game the assault ship becomes incredibly ineffective due to its slow speed, short range and zero utility. This causes the gaalsien to 80% of the time to go for the skimmer/rails/HGC build+aa. As it the only really well rounded build they have.

    On the issue of unit cost and value
    Im fearing im really treading in shifty territory here but here is what i have found through experience. Gaalsien/khaaneph units are pound for pound superior to their coalition/soban counterparts and this should be reflected in their cost. I do think that this is sometime poorly done. As an example the heavy railgun and its counterpart the railgun. with 40 CUs more the coal and 70CUs for soban they can produce 3 railguns instead of the gaalsien 2. I chose the railgun as the regeneration ability of gaal/khaan units scales with HP and armour. Ergo, it is good in the lategame when there are a lot of upgrades. In fact regenaration is only good on cruisers and in skimmer vs skimmer/lav battles since midgame units die too quickly. Especially since unit AI in DoK targets the closest unit, instantly killing said unit and generally rendering regeneration useless. The point being is that for a marginally higher cost that fight slightly favours the coal since 1 heavy rail will instantly die, providing no value. while coal has far more HP on the field and each coal railgun does damage and thus provides value. In the soban case it is even worse. point being here is that the higher cost of the heavy railgun is not reflected in the value it provides on the battlefield. Heavy rails truly shine against cruisers and carriers due to their incredibly high damage output. But as is becoming a theme for the gaalsien, its just so hard for them to get there. I do realize there are such things to consider as maneuverability, possible upgrades and army compositions. But it doesnt seem fair to me that the way the gaalsien is supposed to get equal chances in this fight is just by better positioning/anticipation, i.e. being a better player. This is made even worse by the fact that gaal/khaan units are seperated at production, increasing vulnerability and travel time to where they are needed lacking the cover of the carrier that the soban/coal have. It really is death by a thousand cuts, longer production and higher cost on every unit means the gaal/khaan are always behind on unit count, leading to fewer flanking opportunities, and getting flanked more often. They have a huge weakness against the most basic coal/soban unit(LAV) up until the very late game where they get access to HGCs. Couple this with a almost non-existent economic opener for a strong midgame and a overall poor earlygame and it is too hard to get to the late game where the gaalsien truly shine. There is also some mismatch with research cost , in short gaalsien are usually behind on armour upgrades because they are so specialized. This is also not reflected in the cost. all armour upgrades for coal/soban cost 1200CU/825RU in 95s and 1600CU/1425RU in 160s for gaal/khaan. Being specialized does not mean EVERYTHING needs to be more expensive. I believe that if you try and counter the gaalsien with mirror matchups you should be punished incredibly hard, which is currently not the case.

  • #2

    On the issue of Anti-air:
    This is a a specific combination of the value and flexibility problem. lets start with comparing all the coal/soban units that can shoot air(LAV/AA-turret/Missile battery/Supportcruisers/strike fighters) versus all units that shoot up for gaal/khaan(missile ship/interceptor/production cruiser/HGC AA). The production cruiser aa is pretty terrible as it is very easy to micro around, and HGC aa is even worse since it has a cooldown(hit the hgc once->time until aa activates->air can just chill in a corner for 20-30s->return to kill the HGC) that only leaves 2 viable aa options for gaal/khaan versus at least 3 great(turret/MB/SC) and 2 ok(LAV/SF) options for coal/soban. With coal/soban paying far less per aa option than gaal/khaan and the core aa (missile battery) of coal being far more resistant to raiding by virtue of having a far better ability than the gaal/khaan core aa and the shared armour upgrades with AAVs and railguns. And since air is so RU intensive it is guaranteed that spare CUs go into lavs/skims. Compounding this issue is that coal/soban have access to 2 CU only aa options versus 0 for khaan/gaal making a interceptor counter ineffective. What is worse is that you need far more, more expensive, aa to effectively deter coal/soban air as they can take more hits and even if they die they lose less. This means poking with strike fighters carries less risk, and more importantly, equal reward.

    I would like to make is on how gaalsien(and khaaneph for that matter) are punished more for having their economy raided. Not only are you at risk of losing production, but there is a more hidden damage done in the production time of salvagers. Bottom line is gaalsien lose more mining time, thus taking more damage.

    Also the 1.3 patch note stated that it was intended to fix the habit of the gaalsien baserunner only being used as a earlygame resource boost. However since the baserunner heal heals all units it does more harm than good in early strikecraft fights, especially against LAVs. baserunners now only see play in the very lategame to support railgun armies. In fact ive heard from several new players that they didnt realize they were healing opposing units too since the tooltip clearly states ''allied units''. Fixing this would already give the gaalsien a direly needed earlygame boost and open the door for some very interesting baserunner opening plays.

    1.) decrease PC refinery mode cost from 700CU to 600CU
    2.) decrease Assault Ship tech from 600CU/100RU to 450CU/100RU and from 60s to 50s
    3.) Fix baserunner heal to only heal allies(like the tooltip says)
    4.) Baserunner heal +50% effect on self OR baserunner gets +5 armour during heal
    5.) Baserunner heal disables turrets+ALMs in radius
    6.) Baserunner have a 100CU/50RU hack/capture enemy STRIKE class craft(mister steal yo blast drone) or turret/ALM ability
    7.) Increase Siege cruiser base range from 1900 to 2500
    8.) Assault ship cost decrease and/or add utility (smoke/emp/taunt/fire rate buff to nearby allies/overcharge(like the assault cruiser)/ flamethrowers/teleport/SOMETHING)
    9.) Heavy railgun cost decreased from 280CU/90RU to 250CU/75RU OR speed increase from 66 to 75 + hp increase from 670 to 800 AND
    10.) Assault railgun production time decreased from 24s to 18s
    11.) Salvager speed increased from 75 to 82
    12.) production cruiser AA accuracy+range increase upgrade(~500CU/200RU)
    13.) Ranged calibration/dart maneuver is now standard (no more upgrade needed)
    14.) Missile ship cost reduced from 400CU/80RU to 350CU/80RU
    15.) Carrier base speed increased from 10 to 40 with power scaling (55/70/95/110/125)

    A final note;
    I probably have made some mistakes in spelling and statistics. Please forgive the first and correct the second. Also BBI is there a spreadsheet somewhere with accuracy/chance to hit tables? that would be some amazing info. Up next time: the faction whos people do not understand the concept of too many railguns -the Soban


    • #3
      I was gathering will to make a mega-post about the Gaalsien's status vis-à-vis the other factions, but you pretty much went and touched upon every observation I've made, and described it far better than I could have hoped. I agree with you 150%, if that's even possible.

      You truly covered everything: structural hidden disadvantages, cost benefit disparities, lack of flexibility, lackluster AA (when taking cost into account), Heavy Railgun on-paper vs. real performance, Assault Ship failings, and much more.

      The only thing that's debatable from my point of view are the proposed solutions (solutions I largely agree on, but as always they can be tweaked and modified to good effect).

      I just wanted to add some of my personal pet peeves and rambling comments into the mix:
      • The Gaalsien Carrier's point defense weapons were upgraded to give their faction some answer to early harassment (which pretty much spelt "game over" for them), but then were somewhat downgraded on a later patch (a downgrade which I feel should be reversed). I think it's a cool trait to have their carrier be a more active combat (and defense) asset. Perhaps the Carrier and Salvager speed upgrade you propose, would allow more defensive maneuvering of the carrier at the early game (though maybe the point defense weapons could use a bit more starting range).
      • The Assault Ship was slowed down in patch, a measure that hampered their defensive responsiveness, made them the odd duck in the Gaalsien assault team, and just plain didn't match the look of the unit (they do look fast). Apparently this unit can defeat AAV's one-on-one but is seriously underperforming (cost per benefit-wise) in its intended role, which is against Gaalsien's "specialized unit" design philosophy. Not to mention it looks great yet plays boring. It sorely needs a speed-up and a tactical ability, as you mentioned.
      • This has been discussed countless times, but having the Assault Cruiser on the Coalition side sticks out like a sore thumb. I like the "reverse engineered" concept, but the appearance of the unit makes it clear it's a Gaalsien unit with a Coalition paint-job (more precisely, decal). I think switching it to the Gaalsien side, besides bringing unit parity, would give an opportunity to address some of the faction's issues (if refurbished with proper abilities and stats).
      • The Gaalsien Baserunner could be the key to provide a flexibility edge to the Gaalsien, but their best use continues to be a quick retirement to offset its faction's risky start. I feel they should have a new ability (preferably a deployable).
      • In general, the Gaalsien look great but can feel a bit boring in play because of a lack of truly viable options and cool unit abilities. With Coalition it feels you always have a trick in your sleeve - you can and DO deploy turrets, smoke screens, tactical missiles, etc. With the Gaalsien you feel very limited in what you can effectively do.
      K'Had Sajuuk Was Right


      • #4
        Here are my thoughts.

        Point 1. Agree, but this is mostly a problem that needs to be solved from the LAV/turret side of things (and the assault ship). Cool idea with base runner disable field (but not the hacking ability. Screw that. Its not fun in any game ever) but having healing not apply on enemies would be too good. It is a LOT of healing in terms of strikecraft health pools. Perhaps increasing skimmer vision could be appropriate too.

        Point 2. Semi-agree. I think refinery mode timing is perfect. But I do agree AS costs too much, but i think the research time is good. Having it be 100 less orange means you can start it sooner.

        Point 3. Agree. I think 40 move speed would be to much though. It would also probably cause some really bad mid-game power spiking because you should shunt that extra power to weapons. As per my patch recommendations, grant AS access to dart maneuver.

        Point 4. Disagree. The ability to have units heal is so incredibly valuable. Also i think HR currently have 620hp, less than coal rails. I predict a lot of what you say is from that "death by a thousand cuts". But if you fixed the early game vulnerabilities, I bet it would be perfect the way it is. After all, none of these units-costing-to-much exist for khaaneph.

        Point 5. Vehemently Disagree. Gaal access to AA is WAY better than coal AA. If you have to rank AA "capableness" in this game, it is Interceptors, support cruiser AA (once you get upgrade) Missile Ship, Missile Battery, Production Cruiser, BR AA turret, LAV. I dont count strike fighters and HGC AA for obvious reasons. That is why LAVs can shoot air, to help compensate the otherwise difficult to set up AA net.
        Last edited by pbobbert; Today, 05:53 PM.