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Should there be a Strider arti killer/heavy raider?

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One of the annoying things about Zero K is the dominance of Merlin swarms in the late game, particularly in FFA.

Merlins don't really have a counter by ground units. Raider swarms stop working once mass outlaws are possible, other striders are either too slow to catch a Merlin in reasonable time (Dante, Scorpion, Ultimatum, Detriment) or are just lower DPS arti (Paladin), assaults either get popped by Merlin AoE (Hermit, Knight), are too slow (Grizzly, Jack) or can't traverse the rough terrain the Merlin makes (e.g. Minotaur, Cyclops).

I'd propose a fast, durable, expensive, all-terrain unit to go in, kill some valuable fragile units, then get out.
The all-terrain megahalberd, something like:
all-terrain (bypassing those walls and ignoring churned up ground)
7000 hp, armored when not shooting (extra beefy at taking that arti fire)
3000 cost
70 speed (a tad slower than Minotaurs)
300 range, 2000 damage, 3sec reload, 200 elmo/s weapon (can only hit heavies, not enough DPS to really fight them toe-to-toe)

Short ranged, fast, good damage. Goes in to find improperly defended arti (or just to scout for our own arti), anti or eco and kills it.
Dies horribly to Cyclops, Raiders, Dante, etc.
+1 / -0
Ultimatum does most of what you're describing except it's countered by decloaking instead of damage.

Otherwise this is pretty much Halberd I think? Or Crab if it were armored while not shooting instead of while not moving?

If Merlin is too hard to kill maybe it needs less health.
+1 / -0

15 days ago
This sounds like a task Krow should be good at.

Of course Krow gets pwned by AA but if the AA is dense enough that a Krow can't survive a short trip to take out some arty then you should be able to abuse that overinvestment with any sort of ground assault.
+1 / -0
Zero-K is structured such that the late game will always be dominated by the biggest, baddest artillery units.

If there is a reasonably priced unit that has enough tankiness and firepower to punch/tank through heavy defenses and kill a Merlin, it will definitely be OP overall and highly useful for many other purposes.

Also, I disagree that Merlin is hard to kill. Poorly defended Merlin is pretty easy to kill, just don't keep your units bunched up. If the Merlin is behind heavy defenses... well, read that first line again.

Also Scorpions are pretty good Merlin Killers as long as they have a clear path, which is frequent in maps in which the enemy relies on terrain more so than units to keep their Merlin safe.
+0 / -0

15 days ago
3 Big Bertha is used to snipe merlins. For real, snipe.
+0 / -0
What inspired this idea is RUrankrewdrfe2's tactics of using Merlins protected by a bunch of Aspis, some Funnelweb, some Outlaw and a Flea screen. https://zero-k.info/Battles/Detail/895522
I realized nothing currently in the game apart from Shockley spam works against that and tried to figure out why.

USranknop: Ultimatum doesn't scale. A few hundred metal of fleas basically obsoletes an endless number of Ultimatums.

Halberds are massively slowed by broken terrain and their 6000hp is not enough to avoid being shredded by Merlin fire. They also suffer fairly badly from attrition.

PLrankAdminSprung : When things get dense (army sizes over 15k or so), Krow starts to really struggle to survive AA. An Artemis shuts it right down due to its huge range.

BRrankManored : Not heavy defences, medium defences. If the Merlins are protected by a couple of Desolators this thing isn't going to do well unless massed. Would the unit I described in my first post be OP?
Scorpions have the same screening problems as ultimatums. Getting detected, avoided and then skirmed to death.
+1 / -0
15 days ago
i big minus for merlin is it's shit DPS. although it's barrage is great it has a 30 second cooldown. so desolators backed by conches or convicts are still going to halt the merlins until the merlins have enough alpha to kill a desolator in one burst. at which point you should've have a starlight to clean them up or at least berthas to snipe them. shockley the funnels and blast those merlins away. jammers are useful for limiting the merlins to only fire at buildings (A.K.A. amored desolators). while tremors (protected by cloak&jammers) start bombarding the shieldball. assuming you and your opponent both has the same amount of porc and both has jammed their whole side. against a 20k merlinball either it doesn't have the sufficent firepower to stop you fron shockleying the desolators and keking ti with fast raider or it fails to arty well. against a 30k striderball just use arties like impaler or emmisarry since they have a better dps against a single target. a 40k striderball dies to superwep
+0 / -0
Talking about multiple merlins, 3 or more. No normal structures can survive a combined fire.

I once had 3 merlins marching simultaneously and they can crush energy shield, exposed cloaky army. Only ineffective against air units.
+0 / -0
Merlin in close will still obliterate this unit because no minimum range. Like poor jacks. Who will shoot at moving strider knowing that it will come for his merlin? Most players set arty on hold fire. Enemy can also cover his merlin with infiltrators and other stun units or even ultis. Dis strider will be failure in that role.
Merlin spam is countered by merlin spam. However cancerfunnel with its shields makes this problem now even worse.
Nuke them. If ur enemy mage make all cover antis then u already lost not because merlin OP.
And in terms of cost i think even halberd will be better.
+1 / -0
15 days ago
when there would ba a single unit counter, then that unit would automatically become the next "op" thing. Or another unit combination.

I would suggest, think outside the box. FOr example when silo works, then there is a counter i mean. silo is 1200metal and each shockley 400? so 2800metal for 4 shockleys, i think 3-4 are simpely doable in an lategame ffa. that makes so much stun power...

and also fleas can be countered by maybe mass bandits?
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LVrankSenaven: Merlins take a while to unload on things and aren't very effective against a tough moving unit at close range.
Ultimatums will be effective, but because both the Ulti and the arti killer can one-shot each other you'd need similar numbers of Ultimatums, in which case mission complete! You now need to defend your Merlins with a reasonable number of attacking units, rather than being able to get by with basically pure merlin+outlaw+shields.

I dunno why people keep saying Funnelweb makes things worse... It's got only very slightly more shield charge per cost and the regen delay really hurts it's ability to take arti fire. This is why RUrankrewdrfe2 puts his aegis in front.

As mentioned before, Halberds are too bad at traversing tough terrain and are a bit low hp.

LUrankAdminAnir: Given the proposed unit has a bunch of big glaring weaknesses (like direct combat!) I can't really see it being OP... It forces defending eco from all angles (e.g. maintaining a good fast response force or invest in Desolators) and means you need to include some stuff with DPS in your arti ball, but that's about it.

Flea screens can be eaten by Bandits and the like, it's true, but in practice you lose more bandits to the ball (Outlaws, Merlins, Felons, occasional Recluse, etc) than you kill in screening and fleas are very easy to replace.
You attack the screen with bandits, the ball falls back while killing your bandits (faster than the Ulti can realistically close, especially as it can't attack with the bandits or it'll get decloaked to AoE) and the screen gets replaced once the bandits are dead.
+0 / -0

15 days ago
Merlins is very effective vs close unit because it have no mnimum range. I have cooked jack swarms just shooting close entire missile salvo and also minotaur or even cyclops nearby. If there is supporting paladin near then he can finish off attacking strider. Merlin in close comabt can deliver almost 9k dmg. If they are multiple then even more. With speed slower then minotaur they will be mostly grilles and will not pay back. Also for such speed its not even raider. Strider raider would be glaive type unit with 2k hp and 400 dps or even more + same speed.
Cancerfunnel is because its shields can stop stun missile and eos is useless vs it protected buildings. If i have great metal reserves funnels alone can destroy entire enemy regular unit army just spamming porc while their shield is up. I have used it for porcpush. And even used vs porcpush as well. Its so funny when enemy spam hlt and i come with cancerfunnel and start just spam stardusts near enemy porc cooking all his porc. However ots about combo merlin + funnel. You cant beat it with any other strider if this is supporterd by regula unit cover. Even old funnel was cancer in same situation with their shields and drones but shields was weaker then now. Plus new funnel can fast fix damaged units or spam porc nearby. My exp with funnels is at team game because i play FFA rarely but i lost FFA where enemy spammed funnels to preotect his zenith and i lost even with that i had zenith first but i couldn't break shields so his zenith won.
+0 / -0

15 days ago
Merlins is very effective vs close unit because it have no mnimum range.

As I said in my post, it takes too long to unload.
If a Minotaur sits there it will be 1shot. If it moves? It'll take <3000 damage. Try it.

A few of the arti-killer could have murdered RUrankrewdrfe2's ball in the linked replay.
+0 / -0
The ball you described costs something like 20k metal, at least, possibly more, and I find it difficult to believe nothing costing under 20K can counter it.

For example, for that cost you can deploy 5 Dantes. A dante can survive a full barrage from a merlin and moves considerably faster. If you spread your dantes out a decent amount, the merlins won't be able to AoE. There is also the complicated logistics of actually landing shots with your merlins, since they only shot once every 30 seconds, can easily miss, and have multiple heavy targets to contend with.

The shields and slow won't be much help because the outlaw will melt quickly once the Dante targets it, and the shields won't last due to the high DPS Dantes have at close range.

Off course, one would expect there to be significant numbers of other units and defenses on the battlefield, but its not exactly strange that its hard to counter a formation costing in excess of 25K metal. This is the point where you have either already lost, should be building super weapons, or maybe should just be attacking elsewhere.

That being said, I don't necessarily like that late game Zero-K comes down to artillery war, but it is what it is. I do not think any single unit could solve that, its just inherent to how Zero-K handles artillery.

In regards to the proposed stats being OP, its hard to say without seeing it in action. I think it could be. Its not going to be a generalist but it could make artillery prohibitively unsafe to use in large games, due to the large amount of defenses required to protect them again this unit (right up until you hit critical mass and could squishy it, at least). It would also be pretty great against econ, anti, and anything that can't run away.

Also, 70 speed would be pretty great with the spider moveset. Its faster than most combat spiders. This unit would probably be amazing in rough terrain. It would kick the butts of crabes if nothing else (which might be a good thing given how annoying crabes are currently)

But I have a thematic problem with this unit. Striders are pretty different from each other overall. Scorpion is already a spider assassin, this unit would also be a spider assassin except it relies on speed and armor rather than cloak. It feels too close, at least with the number of striders we have.
+0 / -0

14 days ago
GBrankdyth68 do you have any videos to demonstrate these armies?

I think Merlin is particularly good in FFA because it is the attrition-free option. In a FFA you still lose if you manage to mutually annihilate a Merlin army with a slightly-cheaper counter.
+0 / -0
13 days ago
If shieldballs are a little too prevalent, maybe a heavy unit using a gauss weapon would work? (Gauss dealing extra damage to shields is a somewhat opaque mechanic but maybe it could be used for good effect for a semi-specialized shieldball assault unit)
+0 / -0

13 days ago
What if that unit was a armored "raider" strider that was more like a giant hovercraft? It could have guass/sonic batteries Maybe it could have a unique armor mechanic where it gains armor as it is shot up (up to 80% or 75%). Maybe +5% per 100 damage dealt and +1% per damage packet and if damage isn't dealt to it in 15 seconds, the armor starts ticking down to 0 again (1%/sec maybe). This means Merlin if it hits 20 missiles directly into the raider hover will inflict:

Missile # damage armor
5156.55 29%
6145.53 34%
7132.3 40%
8119.07 46%
9105.84 52%
1092.61 58%
1288.2 60%
1483.79 62%
1679.38 64%
1874.97 66%
2070.56 68%
total2326.27 (4410 merlin damage)69% (52.75% effective)

Disarm, slow and emp packets could be considered non-damage sources for the armor calculation.
+0 / -0

13 days ago
I've done some testing and 4k is too much, 3k more sensible given its weaknesses.

BRrankManored : The RUrankrewdrfe2 ball I describe evolves like this:

13k - It's mostly Merlins by weight but has a little bit of shielding and 4k of conventional forces (plus screening)

24k - Maintaining the "2/3rd of ball should be Merlins" rule. The proportion of shielding has hugely increased and has little short ranged DPS.

34k - Still around 2/3rds of ball is Merlins. Still basically no conventional DPS.

In teams games I've often seen a Merlin/other arti team with fairly minimal protection. Assaults like Minotaur, Halberd and Cyclops are great at punishing that on flat ground, but when the ground starts to churn (either due to natural terrain or arti fire or terraforming) they struggle.

The problem with trying Dantes is their speed. They have a closing speed of only 16 elmo/s vs a Merlin, taking 60 seconds to close vs a kiting Merlin (enough for three Merlin barrages!).
While the proposed arti-killer has more than double the close speed of 34 elmo/s along with much better resilience.

It's pretty different to Scorpions imo. Only thing it shares is the spider movement.
Scorpions are generalists, able to fight well against raiders or heavies, but heavily limited by their speed and range.
This unit can basically only fight heavies (and that badly, a Cyclops, Scorpions and Dantes eat it for lunch, though it'll happily murder a Grizzly) and is helpless against raiders.

AUrankAdminGoogleFrog : I haven't put in the effort to find video capturing software or set up an account on a video hosting site.

Even if you only barely win you are still up in FFA as long as you control the wrecks (it doesn't take long to suck them up and turn them into units) and don't immediately get jumped (and said jumping is quite rare in my experience).

I've also seen Merlin and other arti used to great effect in lobsterpots.
+1 / -0
With that many units involved, this unit will suffer the pretty basic problem of that the enemy can just body-block its movement with cheap units. And if it opens to destroy them, apart from having a slow reload and projectile speed, it loses its virtual 28k hp and goes down to the usual 7k, which means it will quickly be obliterated. I think this unit will not be effective for what you are proposing its primary role be.

Also, you can weaken the "pulverize everything" effect from that many Merlins by giving your attack force Funnelwebs and Aspis of their own. You're still gonna have to chase their ball at a slow speed, but its not like they have infinite space to retreat. If you can gain ground without losing a ton of units, you are winning.

The other solution, as already discussed, are bigger guns/super weapons.

You could also try to lob a crazy number of EMP missiles at it. They only cost 800 a piece plus 1200 to hold four, which isn't much compared to a 25K something ball.
+0 / -0

12 days ago
With that many units involved, this unit will suffer the pretty basic problem of that the enemy can just body-block its movement with cheap units.

Body blocking doesn't work in Zero K. Units can push other units out of the way.

I think this unit will not be effective for what you are proposing its primary role be.

It was somewhat less effective than expected when I tried it in sandbox, but it's still something I'd see as worth building to snipe underguarded arti. Particularly against RUrankrewdrfe2 balls or lobsterpots (where arti often dominates).

You're still gonna have to chase their ball at a slow speed, but its not like they have infinite space to retreat.

Their Merlins will break through your shields in short order as you slowly chase and then the attrition starts.
Unless the map is small you aren't going to push them back enough to matter.
+0 / -0
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