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Are you sure Cloakbots are good for new players?

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Just checked the newbie guide on the Wiki, and it says cloakbots best factory for beginners.
From what I could tell, this is also the prevailing attitude by the community.

I ask whether this is actually true. It takes more skill to start off with Cloakbots than other factories, is what I say

Consider the Glaive:

Small HP
High damage per cost
Regens HP

The opening unit is an extremely good raider, but requires knowledge of grouped unit control. This is because on a 1v1, the Glaive almost always loses since its too weak to stand against any raider due to either being outranged, outdpsed, kited due to short range, etc. What this means is that for best results, an attack by Glaives should be done in large groups, and preferably from many directions. The problem is, for newbies, its hard to control the Glaives in such a way they can be effective as 1) newbies don't generally know how to flank and 2) newbies generally chase down raiders that kite the Glaive until the Glaives die, not giving the Glaives time to regenerate HP, making their ability to do so pointless. 3) All of the Glaives attributes tend to make it a do or die unit if you cannot manage failed attacks, since you either win with some casualties, or
lose all the Glaives under your command

What this means is while the Glaive is a strong raider in the right hands, it takes decent game knowledge to be used well, something I most newbies will not have and therefore, will not do well using the Glaive.

Then Rockos:

Decent damage
Short ranged compared to others
Slow speed rockets.
Slows down when firing.

Essentially, the Rocko must be made in large groups to be able to engage enemy skirmishers without losing too many Rockos, along with requiring basic line-movement to get the most out of the Rocko. Again, I don't think newbies know how to efficiently use the Rocko as a skirmisher, since its short range, low damage and slow speed mean enemy skirmishers can wipe it out easily if the Rockos are not used well. Nevermind the fact it needs to be line-moved or the Rockos get in each other's way, which is harder than simply clicking on a target and firing on it.
What this means is: The Rocko is a good skirmisher, but it requires decent unit control to be used effectively, something newbies do not have, and therefore, will trade very badly with the Rockos and lose significant amounts of them.

Then the Reaver/Warrior:

Impressive DPS
Low HP
Regenerates HP
Short ranged.

Again, the Reaver needs good unit control to be used right, since it cannot be sent to attack enemy fortifications without taking significant damage due to its short range, and most players will avoid running into one with raiders, so the player has to find a way to circumvent that fact. Other problems is that it needs to be managed effectively if it is to be used well: Line moving, and getting enough time to regenerate its HP, along with getting it close enough to deal lots of damage. As you can probably tell, requiring decent game knowledge and unit control to effectively use the Reaver makes it unsuitable for newbies.

Then the assault unit, the Knight/Zeus:

Expensive (350metal is quite a bit, considering that only Minotaur,Grizzly and Jack have more metal cost for an assault unit)
Short ranged
Stun gun
Decent DPS
Decent HP

Same as the Reaver: Short ranged and needs to be line moved, along with being used in such a way the Knights can effectively close range whilst not taking extreme amounts of damage. Due to its slow speed, it has problems pushing into heavy defences without the use of other units, and due to its lightning gun, it does better when used with other units. Essentially, to be used at its best, the Knight requires the use of other units to deal with its weakness: Glaives/Iris to get close range, Rocko to deal with enemy skirmishers, Reaver to deal with unit swarms etc. Again, while this can be used very effectively by skilled players, by circumventing its weaknesses, this makes the Knight unsuitable for newbie use. It does not help that every Knight that dies is extremely hard to replace by most factory standards, and it also lacks HP.


Short range compared to other artillery

Actually, this is good for newbies to use since its really simple to be used well enough. The fact its cheap helps as well. All it really requires is screening Reavers/Glaives to be safe from raider attacks.

Then the Scythe:

Requires energy management (it uses E, though not to extreme amounts)
Regens HP
Good DPS
Needs good cloak management
Expensive raider

By virtue of its cloak, I would say the Scythe is actually not that hard to use since it does not really suffer from short range as it mitigates it with cloak. If a newbie wanted to assasinate Commanders/mess with economy, Scythes can be used relatively well enough. Only problems that really matter would be having to micro a few Scythes to be constantly stabbing at enemy economy whilst avoiding getting hunted down, but for basic usage (ie using it like a cloaked Glaive), it isn't as bad, and the fact that losing Scythes hurt pretty bad. But the cloak somewhat mitigates the risk and since it can regenerate HP, it does not really affect the Scythe unless the newbie decides to rush enemy fortifications with this.


Using this to flank, avoid enemies etc requires knowledge on what to do when stuff goes wrong, where most of the enemy's economy is, where their factory and Commander is etc. To use it in this function requires skill and is probably not suitable for newbies. But for simple functions such as letting Knights and Reavers come close, it is not too bad at that function unless the firing state of the units inside give their location away.


Cloaked EMP

This is really effective, but requires planning to be used well (mining probable locations of attack) (using Iris to get close enough) and needs units around it to finish the stunned enemies off. Since it cannot be used in a simplistic 'rush the enemy down' most of the time, and requires unit coordination to finish enemies off, along with crippling their own side if the Imp attack goes wrong, it is not a suitable unit for newbies if they want to use this well (ie stunning the enemies and not themselves)


High burst
Decent range
Projectile gives it away

To be used at its most effective, the Phantom should be on hold fire and only fires on HVTs. But it can do decently well if it just fires at will since unless its targeting something very fast, the Phantom can generally score a kill. All it needs is riots to prevent it from being rushed down by raiders, but this can easily be deal with by embedding the Phantom in the cloakbot army, or placing the Phantom behind it. Essentially, the Phantom can be used decently, by newbies, without requiring too much game knowledge.

In all: There are 3 combat units that are suitable for newbies use - Scythe, Sling, and Phantom. The other units require too much skill to be used effectively by newbies (by that I mean actually winning battles without significantly taking damage), despite the fact that when said units are used well, it can swing the tide of battle firmly towards the newbie and this makes the Cloakbot factory unsuitable for newbies.


I think that we should encourage newbies to look for different factories that are easier, instead of telling them the Cloabot factory is the best factory for them to use.

+1 / -0
9 months ago
Cloaks ARE good for new players.

Most of the units are effective on their own without the need for complicated tactics. I remember starting in ZK and merely making big swarms of glaives and raiding the blob deep into enemy territory. The damage a noob can do with 20 glaives is impressive.

What are the alternatives?

Rover - rover is a good fac for beginners as well. It's all round solid

Tanks - seems like a good starting fac but tanks are not as simple as they look. You have to micro them well and make sure you repair often, or they will simply get chewed up by cheaper enemies piecemeal.

Hover - bad fac for noobs. I still can't micro Dagger well, and they're made of toilet paper. Take your eyes off them for an instant, and poof, they're dead.

Jumps - terrible fac for noobs. The units are nearly all tricky and specialised to use and have no synergy, beyond Placeholder + Moderator.

Shields - bad for noobs. Shields in my experience can be overwhelmingly powerful, but you need to baby them into a shieldball. Using them as a bunch of stuff is going to get you killed. You have to keep them bunched up, and you need to know about stuff that just kills you.

Spider - average fac for noobs. Spiders have some core units that need to be used together (Recluse + Redback) that sort of suck without each other. Then there are units like Widow that the noob has to know are specific counters to threats.

Amphs - Not too bad. Ducks are not as good a raider in inexperienced hands as Glaive. Their units like Buoy need pairing with riots, and so does Grizzly.

Any air fac, especially Gunship - Terrible for noobs. They will immediately go wasp air, get slaughtered by somebody like Jummy and then try build a few fighters and wonder why they can never seem to get more than a few up without getting shot to bits. Or else they will do the infamous Locust Charge of the Light Brigade into flak cannons.

I think Cloak is a good option for new guys, but I agree its not the only option. Rovers, spiders and maybe Tanks are also viable.
+5 / -0

9 months ago
I think cloakybots are a good factory for new players because it's units contain the very strong characteristics in their unit roles. Raider<Riot<Skirmisher<Raider. On top of that, they are all very cheep, meaning that you can pump out a decent mixed army at low incomes. Often times I will say 'play cloakybots if you're new,' and that may be wrong. what I mean to say is that you should learn the game's system of soft counters, where units beat eachother through using the physics or moving fast, AOE, and longer ranged attacks. I take for granted the knowledge of line move and simple flanking armies on an open field. Using linemove and an angle of attack, you can pull off amazing things with just glaives. reavers kill raiders, and it only takes like 500 metal in ronin to deal 1000 damage in a volley of rockets to a slower unit.

Other factories I would think about suggesting for new players are rover and shieldbots. Shieldbots have this in-combat regen and linking, making it easy to have thugs + something else, and grouping all the units/focus in one place, with a raider that can beat glaive fairly well. Rover has fencer, which shuts cloakybots down hard, as well as good vehicle units on flat land, potent raider and very fast assault. using fencer you must learn to attack-move and line move. using shields you.... just move slowly idk lol just don't spam pure thug. And other factories have drawbacks, hover is all glass cannons, amph is slow minus the shields, tanks is expensive and feels very bad to lose every lone unit to a pack of 10 glaives microed well. Jump fac is full of strange units. It's very easy to tell people to play the factory with well defined unit roles and call it the best.
+5 / -0

9 months ago
Cloakbots are good for new players. Modern cloakbots need to utilize skirmisher/artillery balls with Reavers acting as body guards to be good right now. Glaive oriented play still works but it is less consistent because of high APM.
+1 / -0
I don't think Cloakbots are easy for new players but compared to most other factories it's at least a reasonable option.

Rovers are arguably more straightforward once one understands Scorcher but are not necessarily playable on all maps.

Shieldbots are also a reasonable option but have their own difficulties in terms of unit control and force composition.

Hover, Amph and Spider aren't completely nonviable for new players but don't seem any easier than Cloaky, and there are several maps on which each is not great. The other factories are almost entirely unsuitable for new players to learn the game with as a general rule (although if Tanks really calls to you I guess you could play that).

Almost every unit in Zero-K is, in its own way, difficult to use optimally so a list like in the OP isn't that useful without comparison to other factories.
+3 / -0
9 months ago
lol if a new player plays a 15v15 game then the front-line is sometimes UN-raidable and a new player just feeds the porc wall or gets snipers killed..allot of the time i see balls of cloaks getting smashed to bits by arty.. its probably a good option because when a new player looses whole army of paper units they can make some more because they are cheap
+2 / -0

9 months ago
I'd recommend cloakies because I think they're a good factory for experimenting. The factory supports many different playstyles while also having the most expendable units in nearly every category (sniper and scythe being the exceptions).
+1 / -0
9 months ago
Yeah, this thread changed my opinion on whether cloakbot is suitable for new players. I never actually considered the fact they have VERY defined roles,which I think is what makes it much easier for a newbie to understand: Build this at start Build this if you see large unit, build this if you're getting swarmed etc.

+3 / -0

9 months ago
This attitude comes in large part from the past.

Very "pure" roles used to be more valuable when there were less units with unorthodox roles. Firewalker was less of a riot and nobody built it anyway. Duck didn't exist.

There has been a bit of a riot creep which hurts cloaky more than the other facs. This includes things like OKP.

Lastly cloaky simply used to be borderline OP for a long time. It has received mostly nerfs to its core units' raw stats over time.
+3 / -0

9 months ago
I think cloakies are way too hard to master, every time I try them in team games I lose horribly. :(
+1 / -0

9 months ago
cloaky is imo worst for newer players to use atleast against other players since they are the weakest factory more or less and the micro/decision making to use them effecitively is not existent in new players.

Shieldbots are much more solid and require less micro overall which is a plus for newer players. Their bandits also are a pretty decent raider due to range and their ability to kite. Even expanding can be made much safer by having a single bandit guard/assist a constructor because of the op shield the cons have which allows it to deal with fights it would normally not win.

+5 / -0

9 months ago
Shields and cloak both require a lot of specialized tactics to do well, and between them cloak is a lot more micro heavy. Rovers are a lot easier to play while still having a lot of room to learn to do cool things situationally.
+0 / -0

9 months ago
I'd probably agree that rover is the real rookie factory - there is a simple early game: scorchers and fencers and scope to branch out from there. However, it's also a vehicle factory which means if you plop it on uneven terrain, you'll be handicapped worse than the ostensibly slightly harder shield or cloak factories.
+1 / -0

9 months ago
Cloakbots are easy to learn but difficult to master.
Damn and i started learning with aircraft factory. Only factory where i something understand from units. Maybe..
+0 / -0

9 months ago
rover is the real rookie factory

Agree. I still remember how DErankXivender monospams with scorchers and slashers worked. And if it not worked then he just spammer more of them until its worked.
+4 / -0

9 months ago
Cloaky was a total powerhouse before the tick nerfs
+0 / -0

9 months ago
you mean rockos and glaives being nerfed...
+0 / -0
Shields are the best for total cobblers. Their mechanics are very straight forward (charge sharing being the hardest to understand, but not super important to understand), the units synergize quite well in factory, they don't require special tactics, and are mostly effective on attack move. Most units aren't affected too much by height differences or terrain and they're strong when balled up. The only struggle a cobbler would have with them is forming a shieldball and balancing energy.
+2 / -0
So what's been said so far in a nutshell is that cloakies have specialized units that fit the ZK unit types and that is both a good and a bad thing. The good thing I suppose is there is no glaring flaw since they have all the types, but the bad is that because each unit fills a specific role, it also has a specific counter. Some units in this game, despite their type, are not countered by what you would expect because of their mobility, rate of fire, HP pool or range. Cloakies are countered by exactly what the unit types say they should. That makes them easy to play, but also easy to defeat.

Other than that, cloakies have one adventage that a few factories share: they don't have any very expensive unit. There is no risk for cloakies to try to spend 1000+ metal on a single unit when the game starts because they don't even have a 1000+ metal unit. I suppose a newbie could screw themselves and try to build a phantom as their first unit, but otherwise there is no crab, cyclops, jugglenaught, likho, tremor, lance... One could argue that in team games it can be good to make something expensive right away, but in 1v1 it's always bad.

I don't agree that cloakies require more micro than other facs, at least not in ZK. If you play SC2, it's hard to split marines vs banelings because there is no function to just spread your units or form a line. In ZK you hold down right click and draw a line. Done. You have whatever shape you want.

But, in ZK, the only way to detect something cloaked is to be near it and phantoms move slow and have a large reveal radius. They also shoot further than they see as evidenced by attack move phantom walking out sight radius of a tower, then back in because it's told to move forward, then back out because it can shoot from further, then back in, out, in...

This is where the extra control is needed. Phantoms with a few scythes spotters staying cloaked in front is a potent combination. In team games I often see 4-6 phantoms walk all the way to their sight radius instead of using a spotter. So I would say that it's just a slightly more complex strategy, but once your spotter sees something, you only need to move it if something is about to reveal it. That doesn't require APM, just awareness.

Because ZK doesn't have a tech tree, there are only two reasons to move the camera back to base: queue more building constructions or defend a raid/attack. Otherwise you can just keep babysitting your units and using the very powerful formations function.

I'd be hesitant to recommend cloakies to newbies. I think they're easy to use, but I think most players quickly learn how to deal with them so their ease of use is quickly outmatched by how straight forward it is to counter them. Shieldbots on the other hand, especially in team games, can have a simple formation of just outlaw, felon and thug that you move to where you want to attack/defend without any other input command and the ball will do the rest. In 1v1, that means that you're only really effective in one part of map so if you did that, I would try to capture the rest of the map, raid your part and constantly avoid your ball until I can crush it after prolonged eco superiority or perhaps artil. Then you need to branch out into bandits and more control, which then I think they are more on par with cloakies.
+1 / -0
ppl making sniper that drains their energy is a thing tho...

a glaring weakness cloakies have currently is the bandit - glaive matchup. In 1v1, if you realize you are cloaky vs. shields you might just stop building raiders at all and straight go for reavers. And this was true even BEFORE the bandit-buff. Cloakies advantage is their swarming-potential, but that becomes less and less viable in team-games. If you see cloakies in team-games, it´s mostly early glaives, then you have to switch to phantoms since ronins lose to nearly all other skirms, sling doesn´t have enough dps, scythes are still effective but not as effective as they were etc. TBH i think cloaky is in a pretty bad position right now.

"Because ZK doesn't have a tech tree, there are only two reasons to move the camera back to base: queue more building constructions or defend a raid/attack. Otherwise you can just keep babysitting your units and using the very powerful formations function."

You surely talk about team-games only i suppose. In 1v1, you are more busy with your constructors and too much micro can cost you the game. The nice thing is that you can play zoomed out, have like half your army on fight move and micro only the important units while you queue up stuff with your cons.
+0 / -0
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