Faction balance

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Faction balance

Postby jimmymcgoochie » Mon May 15, 2017 10:36 pm

When using the random faction option in multiplayer and skirmish mode, it's clear that some factions have a very big advantage over others early in the game, which can affect the overall result substantially:

Daisy pushers- the boring, default, no bonuses faction that are actually pretty good all-rounders. Units are reasonably priced, you get access to a lot of stuff by default (medics and mechanics, flame tanks, choppers) that not every other faction gets, and with a tech centre even more goodies are opened up. Don't discount them just because they're the default for the campaign and have no bonuses, they can hold their own against everyone else surprisingly well.

Deadly rocks- with the huge +40% unit cost, a second builder costs you more than making another builder AND an extra oil rig with the daisy pushers which on its own can make a noticeable difference; combine it with the huge costs for more expensive units (840 for a single MLRS! And almost 1000 for a single cruiser!) and the practical cost of sending multiple builders in jeeps across a map to claim oil well sites, and the deadly rocks are by far the WORST faction to play as. If their turrets were affected by the 50% health bonus then things might be OK, but their turrets are no tougher than any other faction; they do substantially more damage, yes, but that alone doesn't really help them as the turrets can still be taken out with equal ease. Yes, they get grenadiers for some medium-range splash damage, and those can be useful, plus a super turret with a tech centre, but unless you're playing on a really big map you don't tend to get the chance to build a tech centre in multiplayer mode in order to use that turret, plus you can't upgrade existing pounder turrets. Access to the MLRS is a small consolation considering the price those things cost (840 coins for one MLRS!) with their reduced range and medium damage, and likewise having grenadiers available is unlikely to tip the balance considering their price. Ideally their turrets should benefit from the increased health that their buildings get, with a reduction in the turret damage bonus to 25% to compensate.
Without a substantial change, randomly getting the deadly rocks in an online skirmish battle is a nearly guaranteed defeat on all but the largest maps, and getting them in a co-op battle will make it much harder to compete with the enemy teams and assist your ally. In a pitched battle their turrets can be destroyed too easily, and in a fast-moving battle trying to fort up won't do you much good; their units are just too expensive to be useful in most circumstances.

Death sparks- A small unit cost penalty (+10%) makes a lot less of a difference than for the deadly rocks, but will still hinder you a bit in the early stages, while a 20% building health penalty can make them relatively easy to destroy. The tesla troop is a versatile unit which is basically an upgraded bazooka with area damage and extended range, plus the slightly inexplicable ability to fire at stuff directly beside it and catch itself in the resulting area damage; the tesla tank is a souped-up battle tank with better damage to other tanks but again with the ability to shoot targets beside themselves and get caught in their own area damage; the tesla turret trades slightly lower health than the pounder for better infantry damage and area damage too, but again can hurt itself by shooting at stuff directly beside it; the nuclear power station is hugely powerful, but takes up more space than a normal power station and is pretty pricey (but good power for the cost). This faction can make up for an initial deficit in units/mobility in longer battles or on medium-sized maps and larger as its special units are effective, and the nuclear power station is going to be even more important with power playing a much larger role in expanding your operations. Reasonably well-balanced as they have access to all the non-specialised units bar the medic, plus grenadiers.

Iron fist- One of the better factions with the substantial tank damage boost and access to a lot of useful units- the MLRS with the 30% damage boost is a force to be reckoned with; and the double tank might lack raw damage versus the battle tank but makes up for it with its double shot ability; the tank killer does what it says in the name and takes out pretty much every vehicle it comes across; and the epic tank... WOW. The behemoth in hulk mode, with staggering damage to pretty much anything that gets in its (fairly short) range, that thing is nasty. If you can use skyhooks to get around its woeful mobility, the epic tank could easily take down an enemy's HQ in ONE SHOT. Of course, the iron fist's cardboard cutout buildings (-50% health), weaker infantry (-20% damage) and lack of medics will count against them and make them fairly easy to take down if you get enough units into position, but with powerful tanks and the MLRS, mechanics to fix them and no unit cost penalties it's pretty difficult to get close to them. An ideal faction for those who like to play a more attacking game or use armour-heavy tactics, and fairly well-balanced.

Rusty nuggets- very commonly used in multiplayer for several reasons: A generous 20% off all units plus 10% more tank damage and 20% more infantry damage make them highly effective at putting units out there early in the game and bias initial encounters in their favour. The lack of several units- choppers, mechanics, any form of artillery- plus the inability to build a tech centre really hinders this faction in longer games, however being able to throw a whole lot of units out early in the game (especially builders in jeeps to cover more ground) make them a great choice in multiplayer especially on smaller maps where that early mobility is critical and will give you a potentially insurmountable advantage. On larger maps or for longer fights, the lack of a tech centre makes it harder to defend with only the basic sandbag wall available and no access to the most powerful units like behemoths, commandoes and the highly useful stinger and submarine counting against them. Reasonably balanced in longer games, but for short games/on smaller maps they're very powerful compared to other factions and quantity can trump the better quality of units that other factions can produce- perhaps the unit cost reduction should apply only to GROUND units, leaving ships and aircraft at normal pricing; alternatively, a reduction in building and/or turret health would also make them a bit easier to play against. A more ambitious suggestion is to make the unit price reduction only apply when a barracks and factory are built, with a 10% reduction as long as you have one barracks and another 10% if you have at least one factory- this would stop the initial advantage of being able to make more builders and cover more ground in the opening turns and let other factions keep up more easily.
The rusty nuggets are overused in multiplayer because the unit price reduction and ground unit attack bonuses are highly effective in the shorter battles on smaller maps that seem to be most popular in multiplayer, and something about them needs to be changed.

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Re: Faction balance

Postby Rubicon » Mon May 15, 2017 10:40 pm

Thanks for posting such a long and detailed brief, I'll give it due consideration.

Anyone else?
Regards, Paul Johnson.

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Re: Faction balance

Postby Rubicon » Mon May 15, 2017 11:57 pm

I'm thinking about making the nuggets have minus 10% instead of plus 10% attack. They're meant to be cheap and crap after all.

This was the original intention, but the lack of a TC is actually a big handicap in bigger games so I felt they'd never get picked then. But 20% more units is probably big enough to make up for it. Thoughts?
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Re: Faction balance

Postby Hyperion703 » Tue May 16, 2017 1:04 am

Rubicon wrote:Thanks for posting such a long and detailed brief,

Yes, this is truly wonderful. Lots of good ideas! Thanks Gooch! (Dude, you're a killer writer.) :ymapplause:

One common theme I found is the price of builders. If your faction has relatively cheaper ones, you'll do fine it seems; If not, you're in for a world of hurt. So, why not just make builder cost static at 200, then? Factions can still maintain their divergent costs-per-unit elsewhere, which I think would be sufficient in keeping factions unique (in part). Profound in its simplicity and fairness, it just feels right.

I have some other thoughts to add later (no time now!) These are the conversations we should be having though.
-hype
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Re: Faction balance

Postby Scotch21 » Tue May 16, 2017 4:14 am

Many good points brought up, this is great.

RN - A clear advantage in the early game, but don't see the need to change them too much, just give them stingers take away the fighter and give them choppers.
They are an infantry based faction after all, they should also have the commando to help in late game.

IF - I don't see a need for a change, well balanced.

DR - Turrets and walls are too squishy. They are key features and should be hard to take down thus allowing the required time to get your army together.

DS - Well balanced, shouldn't shoot your own units tho.

DP - No change needed.

MLRS - ..... With a drastically reduced splash, reduced range and a ridiculous price, a unit that was once a critical unit in my army is now useless to me. I no longer see any value in buying them. If there must be a change from the 0.4 build version then at least give them back their splash damage.

Subs - They were most definitely OP in 0.4 because of the undo button and them always being submerged. In 0.5 however, with their reduced range and short movement range they are now too vulnerable to even bother producing. A single shot from almost anything takes them out so basically every time you take one to battle it dies the next turn. Just put the range back up.

Builders - 200 for each faction

Skeeters - Movement should be increased by 2 or 3

Upgrading - Need to be able to upgrade any turret, wall, oil well or building by putting a builder bedside it and using it on the building.
- Rusty Entente Defence (RED)

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Re: Faction balance

Postby Rubicon » Tue May 16, 2017 8:25 am

Subs haven't changed.
Regards, Paul Johnson.

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Re: Faction balance

Postby jimmymcgoochie » Tue May 16, 2017 11:02 am

The MLRS has been nerfed too hard- a high price and reduced range have made it barely worth using. Either bump the range back up to 6 (and give artillery back their original 3-5 range too) or reduce the price in line with artillery (500 by default).

A fixed price for builders would be a great equaliser early in the game, as paying 280 coins with the deadly rocks when the other guy is the rusty nuggets and pays 160 is ridiculous.

The rusty nuggets need some tweaks- as I said earlier just making all GROUND units cost 20% less would even things up a bit. Or, how about giving them a health decrease equal to their attack increase? Making them more like glass cannons could even things up a lot.

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Re: Faction balance

Postby Scotch21 » Tue May 16, 2017 2:18 pm

Rubicon wrote:Subs haven't changed.


Maybe it was a glitch in 0.4 then but I used subs a lot in 0.4 and I clearly remember firing at a cruiser and not having the cruiser fire back at me.. or maybe u increased the range of the cruiser? Either way now that they can be hit by return fire in the same turn they fire at a cruiser kinda makes them a little more useless. They are still somewhat helpful with other naval vessels but not against cruisers and to me that's where I would use them the most.
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Re: Faction balance

Postby Rubicon » Tue May 16, 2017 3:33 pm

I did up the cruiser by one. I'll do the same to the subs for next build.
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Re: Faction balance

Postby Hyperion703 » Tue May 16, 2017 5:04 pm

Okay, now that I have some proper time...

RN: I knew these were going to be power gamers' favorite faction from the beginning due to their damage-per-cost efficiency and lack of any real artistic flair. Like Scotch, I initially believed Stingers and Commandos would round out their infantry focus rather nicely. However, I'm beginning to feel differently. Giving a faction that's already OP the best late-game infantry right out of the box while other factions need a TC to enjoy such luxuries doesn't make a whole lot of sense. A part of me thinks it's appropriate that RN's weakness vs. aircraft evens out their dominance vs. everything else. But, in specific scenarios, this weakness can be downright debilitating. And that's not good either. Take for instance a recent skirmish I played vs. Scotch. It was on... Mind the Gap, or some other map where both sides start on the tops of plateaus, with sheer cliffs dropping off to a sizeable canyon dividing these two uplands. He was IF, focusing heavily on MLRS units as IF do. I was RN. Between the reach of his 2-3 MLRS and about the same amount of Fighters, there was literally nothing I could do as RN to break his lines and establish a foothold on his plateau. Nothing. The game went on for like 25 days or something, giving me ample time to try a dozen different approaches/strategies/unit combos: nothing RN had could win against a handful of MLRS and Fighters that are dug into higher ground. Thankfully the versions wiped out that game, which I honestly believe was unwinnable given the faction and landform match up. I know some scenarios might be disadvantageous, but no scenario should ever be impossible. So, the RN has a glaring weakness that needs attention at some point.

DP: These are beginning to be my favorite as extremes in both strengths and weaknesses abound in factions otherwise. It's easy to think DP has no strengths. But that's not true. DPs strength is that they generally have no weaknesses. Their available units and no deficits in terms of cost or health penalties means they have an answer for every threat thrown at them (with the possible exception of mega tanks). Over time, I think this will become problematic. Their 'vanilla' or generic nature will eventually be seen as the ultimate advantage against factions with 'cracks' to exploit. I get their inclusion as an instructional piece. But, I either would have made them unavailable for PvP or kept them available but gave them similar pros/cons as the other factions. Newbies would have to learn on a specialized faction in the campaign missions, which I don't see as a major problem. At any rate, this faction is a real outlier.

DR: I concur that the cost of units does not justify the 50% building health or the 50% turret damage bonus. I've been under the impression that turrets, too, received this health bonus as they are buildings. So I assumed DR turrets were naturally stronger. This makes sense then. Because I remember my new mega turrets getting thrashed so easily. Half of the issue with DR is related to high unit costs, and the other half is that their strengths lie in turrets, which are clearly obsolete in the current environment (see the Thoughts on Turrets thread). I think, if turrets were both strengthened as suggested in that thread, and strengthened in terms of DP building health bonuses, along with builder costs universally adjusted to 200 gold; DR would be competitive - at least! From an artistic standpoint, I kinda thought it was repetitive to use both 'Deadly' and 'Death' in faction names. But I'm splitting hairs here; it doesn't matter to game play.

IF: Yes, it's true the beloved MLRS was neutered to a degree in 0.5. Maybe a bit extreme. However, I'd argue that, equally as bad, was the degree they were spammed and overused in 0.4. A unit as strong and unique as MLRS should never be the backbone of any army. They should be highly specialized units who do one or two tasks exceptionally well, neither of which should be an answer to every ground-based threat one might be up against. MLRS should be as strong as they were in 0.4, but also have equally debilitating weaknesses so that players wouldn't want to rely solely on them. In lieu of that, maybe the only other alternative would be to make MLRS units exclusively for the mid-and-late-games by making a TC required as suggested in an earlier thread. Now that Mechanics can use their ability to repair THREE TIMES in a turn, you can pull off some sweet combos with Double Tanks in particular. Watch for that to be a thing. And it's ironic that IF might be the only thing that can counter other IF who make Mega Tanks as the Tank Killer really is the only unit you can rely on to take those suckers down.

DS: Another outlier in that their strengths come not from traditional unit values like health or damage, but from a far less common game mechanic: splash AoE. I don't see their tesla weaponry as anything to write home about. But at least their costs reflect this. They're modestly priced. But don't expect their performance to be that much different than DP. Unlike others who have commented, I do believe tesla weapons should affect nearby friendlies. That's built into their costs, I think. Actually, I think tesla weapons' damage should be scaled back just a tad but, in return, have their currents arc two units over instead of just one . That will take tesla weapons from being a little underwhelming to right on par. The amount of destruction they cause will be offset in that some of the destruction is self-inflicted. But it will totally be worth it as tesla shots could hit 4-6 units on an *average* shot. Zap-for-zap, they would be weaker than they are now (only by a little), but will affect more units per shot, making them stronger overall. Also, any Tesla-equipped unit attempting to walk into water should be fried instantly.

Stay up,
-hype
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