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Viability of Planes in 1v1, PlaneFac Balance

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8 days ago
Time for silly noob post time, because Qrow just lets other people play the game, not the other way around.

This post has two main points - PlaneFactory in 1v1, and air in general in other ground Matchups (hereon I'll refer to these as MUs).

First of all, taking a look at this game: Multiplayer B1026925 2 on Comet Catcher Redux v3.1

With FRrankn2o starting off with Light Vehicles and myself starting off with Planes, the ground would (in a perfectly balanced case) certainly normally be very even - high value targets are bombed on n2o's side while airfactory has to deal with using napalm bombers and swifts in order to stop fast expansion and raiders. Or at least, looking from unit names, this seems how this MU should be played.

However, I have found over time that PlaneFac suffers from a few separate issues that prevent it from performing evenly or at least able to keep up with other factories. I believe the issues are as listed below (in order of severity):

* Planes are extremely expensive compared to other factories in terms of not only economic resource consumption, but also in the ratio of economic resources used to the survivability and usefulness of its units.

* Planes either over perform or under perform the tasks of which they are assigned to do, compared to other roles of units in other factories. (good example of this is swift doing far too much)

* Planes fall off much harder than other factories units in the late game and also have counters that are *far cheaper and and have more range* than other non-AA alternatives.

Starting off with the first issue, I present a hypothetical scenario.

Starting off a game (under normal conditions) one player places a Cloak factory and the other one places a Plane factory. Immediately, the Plane factory starts construction of a swift, and the Cloaky player starts construction of 3 glaives.

Doing the math on this:

3 Glaves ("light raider") will run the Cloaky player 175m, at 65m each.

1 Swift ("multi-role fighter") will run the Planes player 150m.

So now we are faced with the first issue in 1v1 balance of the Plane factory, which is "How do Planes keep up with every other factory when they don't have a raiding unit?".

A factory not having a dedicated, strong raiding unit is not a super abnormal thing. For example, Spiders do not have a strong raiding unit - instead they have the Flea, a unit that is not strong in combat vs other raiders but is instead strong in the fact that it is cheap, cloaks, and provides considerable vision. It is also useful for de-cloaking enemy snipers and the like.

However, the Swift, despite being the cost of 3~ conventional raiders, does not have any of these strong suits in 1v1 situations. The swift is vulnerable to almost all types of enemy defense, does not have a way of quickly raiding or coping with other raiders on their way to your territory, and is very weak in survivability.

The textbook answer to this concern about imbalance is to say "Yes, but they're Planes, and that means they can ignore terrain and for the most part, other enemy units except AA."

Taking a look at the things they can ignore, terrain is indeed one unique strong point of the Planes factory. Planes can ignore terrain... or can they? Ignoring terrain is more than just unit pathing - ignoring terrain is also about the position it puts your units in while they travel over said terrain. For example, if my opponent builds a stardust on top of the mountain, my terrain buff is no longer considered relevant because now a piece of *very strong defense* has just turned into literal AA.

The other answer to Planes imbalance is that they can ignore other units - but a majority of the units in the Planes factory swoop down to bomb or attack other units, thus invalidating any advantage over grounded units they may have had. Rippers, for example, shred Ravens like paper when they swoop down. This weird swoop for bombers never made any sense to me physics wise either, as I assume by the time that we have mechs we will be able to do level "toss" bombing quite accurately.

Thus, the Swift in of itself sucks for a few main reasons (lack of effective ground engagement tools and poor cost to survivability ratio) - but it also does some things strangely well, like fighting other aircraft. But in a 1v1 setting, I would deem the ground engagement and raiding traits more important than AA ability, considering the Planes factory already has an AA unit that no one ever builds because swift just does *everything*.

When I say over performing, I'm talking exactly about the Swift - it does too much in one department that IMO it shouldn't interact that much with, and provides little to no support in raiding, which is a category of unit that every factory should at least have one decent unit for.

In a 1v1 setting that is not Planes v Planes, one would naturally assume that you would use Ravens and Phoenixs to combat enemy advances and take out high value targets - but there too lies another issue.

Ravens are good bombers, but they suffer from the same issue that the Swift suffers from in that their cost to survivability ratio is too small. Ravens often group to bomb, meaning that any small AoE damage can instantly shred a group of Ravens. Phoenixs suffer from the same issue as well as the Napalm honestly not really doing much of anything to some units and economy infrastructure. I seem to recall bombing wind gens with napalm and them living, once long ago. In 1v1 settings where the enemy can produce cheap AA to imbalance that ratio, using these to units to try to do anything just feels like pure hell when your opponent can build AA for 9m/unit and you're spending 300m/unit for a bomber that is going to live two seconds.

Moving up the line, the Thunderbird feels very awkward in 1v1 settings. It's a unit that's great at providing openings, but often times you cannot combo bombers into the stun a second time due to reload time. Also, why is this unit 550m when it has so little HP and using it is basically always suicide?

Likho and Owl feel fine in 1v1, I would say Owl costs a lot (but acceptable) and Sparrow is silly and should be removed.

While rarely relevant to 1v1s, Raptors should be buffed in general to fill a removed air fighter swift role.

TL:DR, please make a raider unit that works vs ground units and buff/make the bombers cheaper in order to keep up with ground unit production rates.

Anyways, on the topic of other ground matchups, almost every other factory has an answer that is cheaper (cost ratio/unit) to the Planes alternative. I find it very silly that while one Stinger cannot hold an area by itself effectively vs small units, one Chainsaw can easier make its cost back and deny a whole side of the map vs light Planes and ravens. The effectiveness of AA vs Air is far superior to that of any other kind of defense vs its intended unit counterparts (etc Stinger vs Zeus).

AA across the board on the ground is imbalanced as well. There are some very good AA units, and some very bad ones. However, Razor has always felt a little too strong, as is with Chainsaw. Rarely do I ever see people build Cobras or Hacksaws vs just spamming Razors or building a Chainsaw.

I will add more posts as this post recieves comments in order to provide my viewpoint.

+0 / -0

8 days ago
Planes not being a viable 1v1 plop is working as intended. It seems like trying to make it viable in 1v1 requires tradeoffs that would detract from its current role as a support factory (ie something you make later in a 1v1, or as a support player in a teamgame).
+2 / -0

8 days ago
Youre trying to plop in a 1v1 airfac which is just a very bad idea because you cant expand, defend and your builders get one shoted from miles away its like trying to plop ships on a waterless map.

Ofc AA is strong vs air it literly dose nothing else,chainsaw alone gets bombed so easily its hilarious,regardless air is the BEST supporting factory and the worst factory to plop first secound only to retarded choices like ships on a waterless map.
+1 / -0
8 days ago
You can deactivate the dive bombing mechanic in the UI. You can also LAND swifts to do quite decent raiding & they will out-range LTs. It boils down to being very good at using swifts - 1 swift can beat 3 glaves if you do it right because it is both much faster and has much greater range. Landed planes will also decloak units.

A few ravens can decimate a single razor, chainsaw, or hacksaw without loss. A couple likhos can destroy a single artemis without loss.

The biggest problem is that playing air well requires too much micro to be viable 1v1. You would need to invest in quite extensive defenses while winning the attrition battle using intensive micro & any decent opponent is not going to give you that time (reloading takes time and landing swifts to fight raiders is very micro and space intensive). But theoretically you can win on a large map by forcing your opponent to invest heavily in AA and then factory switching to ground while using your air to punish any mistakes your opponent makes. On normal small 1v1 maps, planes are simply not viable because their speed is much less relevant.

The sparrow is just there so you can use it to scout without revealing that you have an air factory - radar can morph to a sparrow.

But you're right that ground units are much easier to use, much less punishing to lose economically and therefore much more viable.
+0 / -0