End of 2018 RA balance changes

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Smitty
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End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Smitty » Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:08 am

Okay beautiful people, let's talk balance changes for the next official playtest.

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.

Artillery
- 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.

Chronosphere:
-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.

Mechanic/Medic:
- 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:
- 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

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anjew
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by anjew » Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:01 am

Smitty wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:08 am
Artillery
Accuracy increased from 1c938 to 0c614. Damage vs infantry reduced from 90% to 40%, and damage vs light armor reduced from 60% to 35%.

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.

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.
I feel these changes will affect the already lopsided balance of Allies vs Soviet more then Allies vs Allies. Relying on hinds to deal with infantry against possible flak trucks is suicide. This is almost the entire advantage of going Allies (other than the rare T3). The asymmetric balance of the V2 and artillery is what gives these units their role. This seems like turning the artillery into a V with possibly less DPS.

Also I know its frustrating to lose artillery to artillery but with the reduced projectile speed, it should be more than easy enough to hear the shot and move your affected artillery. However having its damage also nerfed against flak truck seems like an oversight. It's one of the fastest units in the game (so getting it hit by artillery is entirely avoidable) but also one of the weakest. How much quicker will the V2 be able to kill this unit vs an Artillery?

All other changes I can more than agree with. A slower projectile and less splash are nice quality of life improvements. These core DPS changes however will effect more than Allies vs Allies

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netnazgul
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by netnazgul » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:59 am

Smitty wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:08 am
- 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.
General assumption at the moment is that this will actually lead to engineers rendered completely useless if it goes as-is - considering their cost ($500), you'll need to build AND transport an engineer per each capturable now, which drastically increases capturable expenses and attention involvement without providing anything in return, so it's a straight down nerf of engineers. I can imagine a pack of engineers in an APC being somewhat scarier now, but with 8 seconds capture time and removed building blockers (you can sell a building that's being captured, and the production is not blocked AFAIK) it doesn't seem to be an effective money usage.
The only way to still have engineers on the field now is to make them cheaper and tweak the capture time further, but this is a very volatile value now, with too low making engineers capture bases in a flash without retaliation and too high making engineers being not effective at their job and making them a new never-to-be-used hijacker unit.
Smitty wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:08 am
- 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.
A nice pack of changes here, happy to see mechanics were in the end left almost untouched and weren't stripped off of their salvaging powers.
Thieves' logic I've swiftly tested, it almost fixes them - occasionally they still bug out and do a little dance around the ore truck, and I think I've managed to get my thief crushed once; this is better to be left for playtest cycle at this point.
Smitty wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:08 am
- 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.
Thought that this was added long ago.


The artillery changes might be too drastic, and I'm not sure we've seen enough testing for that to justify the change, so again playtest cycle may refine the changes faster and better.

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Sleipnir
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Sleipnir » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:12 am

netnazgul wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:59 am
but with 8 seconds capture time and removed building blockers (you can sell a building that's being captured, and the production is not blocked AFAIK) it doesn't seem to be an effective money usage.
I've seen this mentioned a few times now, and it is wrong. You can't sell a building that's being captured, and production is blocked.

Printer
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Printer » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:23 am

I'd like to further protest the artillery nerf. Artillery inaccuracy is needed to counter them. When the arty spam starts up, you can't just respond. You have to:
- See if there's an AA gun,
- Rally or que some V2s,
- Look for a way around defenses/flank route,
- Try to stall for IC,

The key thing is that you need the time inaccurate Artillery gives you to properly respond. Arty's inaccuracy allows time to prepare and Tesla tanking arty hits helps with that.

Otherwise, I'm really looking forward to some of those fixes (Hijacker --> Theif) and look forward to seeing how it works.

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Sleipnir
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Sleipnir » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:03 am

#15866 will bring a few more fixes that impact the Artillery (and V2) balance in the playtest:

- Artillery will no longer rush forwards when ordered to attack a structure under the fog that is already dead
This should reduce a frustration point when microing.

- Artillery will not stop firing on a targeted building under the fog until it is explicitly revealed as being dead
This will penalize players who don't micro or scout.

plus also

- Targeting vs Camo Pillboxes under the fog will finally work properly
A minor nerf, but hopefully a welcome bug fix.

- (un)Deploying a construction yard can no longer be exploited to force enemy units firing on it it to go idle
A minor nerf, but this was rather a cheaty tactic.

camundahl
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by camundahl » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:27 pm

Ah, the rushing forward thing..... THANK YOU for fixing that

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ZxGanon
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by ZxGanon » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:05 pm

I´m looking forward to the engineer changes even though I´m 100% sure 8 seconds capping time is way too slow.
I've seen this mentioned a few times now, and it is wrong. You can't sell a building that's being captured, and production is blocked.
I thought both of these will be removed finally since those were not the case in Kanes Wrath and RA3.

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Sleipnir
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Sleipnir » Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:28 pm

They are no longer hardcoded in the capture logic, but were readded using yaml and conditions to reduce the initial balancing shock from the changes.

SirCake
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by SirCake » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:54 am

- Targeting vs Camo Pillboxes under the fog will finally work properly
A minor nerf, but hopefully a welcome bug fix.
Ah yes! Finally!
- (un)Deploying a construction yard can no longer be exploited to force enemy units firing on it it to go idle
A minor nerf, but this was rather a cheaty tactic.
Nice.


I'm curious how all the other balance changes will play out. Only test games can tell.
Glad arty hopefully isn't a giant stop sign anymore.

.1
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by .1 » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:20 pm

I think most of these are bug fixes rather than Balance changes, but they look great.. Upps will no longer be able to undeploy and deploy 50 times.

N/a
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by N/a » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:41 pm

I encouraged orb to start doing the balance stuff again as I felt the stuff he did with AO previously with the core allies units was fantastic. I support the changes he's put forward however, there could be more meat on the bone, the tanks and light tank changes in previous iterations I thought were great too.

At the time when AO started it had strong defence artillery, I think either higher health or just more def vs yak attack stuff, which meant you could not kill them in one strafe, but with that def buff, you had less, much less damage against infantry, similarly if not more than what orbs arty edit had, they would go prone, but not be smashed to bits in one hit.

The result was you get a lot less AA, which meant allies vs allies were a lot less static and you had more brawling with tanks and infantry, which is really nice.


The difference now though, with the general update to the unit responsiveness that came in the last release, which I think is absolutely an improvement, made all games feel less static to me.

The latest versions of AO put forward seem very moderate, and sensible, but that core boost is not there like I mentioned, as fear of push back.

Hopefully Orb does add more in that area in the future.


But in terms of balance changes in general, I'm really excited for the future as a couple of guys are working on some amazing stuff, FRenzy and Widow with the symmetrical refineries are really taking things to the next level.



Most importantly is that we give all these things a try, for the prospect of an optimised experience.




And thanks for putting these changes forward!

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Clockwork
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Clockwork » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:08 am

Orbs changes are really good.

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Materianer
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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by Materianer » Sat Dec 22, 2018 1:16 pm

- Engineers are now consumed
Nice that you have the choice now how the engie behavior should be.
I remember the times when they always was instantly consumed, it was a high risk to go for oil derricks, that will be worse with the external captime.
So its good to have that checkbox, on maps without or only a few oils its an good option.

- 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.
Nice solution for the mcv-capture problem, maybe a extra scorebonus for players who restore friendly husks would be fair.
Btw what happens if a player capture husks from a dead player, are the restored tanks then controllable by the dead player?

- Hijackers will now freeze a vehicle before capturing it.
- The hijacker has been renamed to thief. Thieves can steal vehicles, as well as cash from Ore Refineries and Ore Silos.

Really cool thing.

- Infantry in pillboxes will no longer gain experience.
Nicely

Artillery
- 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%.

This have to be tested but for me the cons seems to outweigh the pros, especially the damage nerf vs infantry and projectile speed reduction could have bad impacts ( would an allies player still have a chance against teslatroopers, thats a sensitive dependency ).

I dont understand the argumentation for that nerf against infantry, they often are spreaded and a better accuracy is more like a con against big blobs.
Sounds more like a hidden nerf for artys to me.

Chronosphere:
-Chronoshift return duration reduced by 20%

The argumentation for this change lacks logic.
Maybe its true in a 1on1, but not in teamgames are always enough important buildings(/harvesters really you destroy harvesters with chronounits? is that good?) to destroy.
Also thats only one case how to use the chronosphere, in all other cases its bad to have less chronotime.
-If you chrono madtanks its good to spread them a bit in the enemys base before shaking it.
-Chrono enemys tanks in your turretcage ( already sad that the then restored husks turn back now, a hidden nerf for mechanics )
-Chrono enemy tanks to another enemy in a ffa
-Chrono units to scout an enemys base if airunits fails for that role.

Mechanic/Medic:
- Speed reduced to 50 from 56

Its true that they often run into death when you just select your army and attack with it without taking care about them.
its a pain sometimes if you fail to seperate them from other units by doubleklicking one of them and in the heat of an attack its often just too time consuming.
The best solution for this would be maybe to change the selection priority for those units, because a speedreduction would also nerf those already underused units.
I often build 5 healers for my tanya, if she is much faster now she is unprotected.
Mechanics need to be fast because restoring husks is often a close call.

Camo Pillbox:
- Camo pillbox price increased to 800 from 700. Cloak delay increased from 60 to 125.

Better wait and test how the " Targeting vs Camo Pillboxes under the fog will finally work properly " will change them.
How many nerfs and price changes have been done to them the last few years and they are still op really?

Sometimes i think "They dont play the same game like i do or play it in a totally different way."

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Re: End of 2018 RA balance changes

Post by abcdefg30 » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:03 pm

Materianer wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 1:16 pm
[...]
-Chrono enemys tanks in your turretcage ( already sad that the then restored husks turn back now, a hidden nerf for mechanics )
[...]
Enemy tanks will still be captured (same behaviour as before), only the husks of your allies are turned back.

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