I'm sure many of you have noticed a lack of SMT maps this time around. I've been spending most of my OpenRA time trying to earn my Jr. Dev badge. However, through the magic of outsourcing [Orb] we're still getting some balance changes for Christmas. I'll also go over some changes made by the dev team that will affect balance.
- Engineers are now consumed on capture and take 8 seconds to capture a building (down from 15) There is a checkbox if you still want reusable engineers.
A long term dev goal was to make engineers have the C&C3 capture logic. My prediction is that maps with multiple oils will have a much improved early game, as losing the first encounter won't set you as far behind if the other player has to build multiple engineers.
- Mechanic husk restore has been changed so that when a husk belonging to a teammate is restored, it will be restored to the teammate instead of the player.
This was our solution to fixing an exploit in team games without changing mechanic logic for 1v1s.
- Hijackers will now freeze a vehicle before capturing it.
This allows the notoriously buggy hijacker to steal a vehicle when he gets closer to it. Start protecting those ore trucks! Also, hijackers don't exist anymore...
- The hijacker has been renamed to thief. Thieves can steal vehicles, as well as cash from Ore Refineries and Ore Silos.
We made this change to bring the RA mod a bit closer to the original.
- Infantry in pillboxes will no longer gain experience.
This has been a LONG requested change that is finally achievable. Veterancy will still provide a fire rate boost inside pillboxes, but if you still want your box to shred entire armies in seconds, you will need to manually swap out your rifles.
The remaining changes were proposed and tested by Orb. I've asked him to explain them in his own words:
___Goal: Reduce Allies vs Allies late game stagnation. This occurs when neither player can get a clear advantage before T3. Allies have no good tools for breaking through fortified positions, as Artillery are lackluster at destroying defenses and are difficult to keep alive vs defending Artillery. This results in frustrating gameplay, where games can reach over an hour in length.
I’ve also included some quality of life improvements to make some underused units a little more useful or easier to micro.
- Reload delay increased from 85 to 90. Projectile speed decreased from 204 to 170. Accuracy increased from 1c938 to 0c614.
Splash Damage now has a falloff range. Damage vs infantry reduced from 90% to 40%, and damage vs light armor reduced from 60% to 35%.
The main problem with artillery is their DPS is very low vs defenses. This is because of their high inaccuracy, making it difficult to hit 1 cell targets. Combine this with an opponent actively repairing the defense and one artillery will likely die before it kills the defense.
I’ve improved the accuracy while leaving a little inaccuracy in for aesthetic reasons. Now artillery reliably hit defenses. Now that they can reliably destroy defenses, I’ve also reduced their other capacity, infantry killing. They overperform in this role drastically, and Allies have many other tools to deal with infantry spam (Hinds, Pillboxes, Tanya). I’ve reduced the AOE substantially, such that they only 1 shot infantry in a small area, with mild damage a little outside of it. I’ve additionally lowered the projectile speed. This has the double benefit of being more aesthetically pleasing, and allowing players to dodge shots if they choose to, allowing some limited counter play. Together these changes should make it more feasible to attack into positions defended by artillery.
Pairing with the projectile speed reduction, I’ve also slightly reduced the fire rate. This is so that the time after a shot lands and another shot is fired is roughly the same, so it feels about the same for micro purposes.
Finally, I’ve reduced their damage vs light targets. Their ability to one shot flak trucks and other artillery is particularly frustrating. Whenever you attempt to shell an Allied position, the defending artillery will destroy your artillery, leaving you back at a stalemate. This gets particularly bad once GPS is up, and you’re able to blind fire any artillery that move up. An Artillery shell brings an Artillery down to red health now.
-Chronoshift return duration reduced by 20%
Chronosphere’s in general are considered a little weak in the meta right now, and usually aren’t even constructed by Allied players. The reduction in shift time is a small buff to its raiding capabilities. For the most part, most targets can be killed (harvesters, tech structures) well before the shift back to base. The rest of the shift time is dead time, which the defending player can use to kill your units. By reducing the shift time, this will make the jumps a little less risky.
- Speed reduced to 50 from 56
As support units, medics/mechanics should always be in the back of your army. This small speed reduction generally leaves them in the back of your armies (where you want them), while not being so slow as to be left behind. This is just a change of convenience.
- Camo pillbox price increased to 800 from 700. Cloak delay increased from 60 to 125.
Camo Pillboxes are not good for gameplay. An invisible defense has no additional counter play options, simply less. Your only option is to break it with tanks, but a well-fortified player can easily deflect medium tanks. The cost increase is to make it less of a no brainer to build instead of normal Pillboxes. The increase in recloak time is so that once you do engage it, they are easier to deal with.
My goal with these two nerfs is to push it into niche play. They can still be built as artillery counters, or to hold Tanya’s, but now they’re less of a straight upgrade from a normal pillbox.
"Do not trust the balance tzars (Smitty, Orb). They are making the changes either for the wrong reasons, for no reason at all, or just because they can and it makes them feel good." - Neil deGrasse Tyson