Rogue has some interesting qualities that give it more advantages than almost any other combat-focused unit. Top players are growing more aware and dependant on rogue spam in order to gain an advantage. Personally, I think it results in games that are currently too frustrating to interact with. I'm going to break down the issue with rogue as I see it. Here are some of it's wonderful traits:Problematic high range
Rogue is one of very few skirmishers that enjoys impunity from LLTs. In frontline combat, this means that reinforcing your position with them is useless. It also means that they can take pot-shots and kite other skirmishers relatively cheaply, gaining a huge retreating bonus in the process.
The only other skirmisher with competitive range is recluse, who does not enjoy the same low cost, low weight advantages. Moreso, Rogue is far more maneouverable than recluse. 57 speed vs 45. 391 deg turn rate vs 276 deg. This is an important detail, because when it comes to attack walk stand-offs or even retreat commands, recluses lack of mobility allows it to take hits more easily. A hit from a rogue is worth 345 damage, which is more than half of a recluse's 650 health. This means that a dancing rogue only needs to hit a recluse a single time to make more than it's cost of 120 in value (recluse costs 280, so a hit is doing more than 150 metal cost in damage here).Low cost
At the cost of 120, Rogue achieves comfortable entry into the high granularity bracket, particularly when it is paired with dirtbag, bandit and vandal. This is a serious advantage because high granularity affords inherent protection against almost all long range attrition. An example - A lance has a cooldown of 20 seconds. At the reserved average 1v1 mid game income of 40-50 metal per second, a rogue builder can produce roughly 5 rogues in the time that it takes for a lance to reload. Getting 5 lances fielded (for efficient kill rate) 100% comes at both the loss of holding the frontline and with new jarring weaknesses that the enemy can exploit. Phantom suffers from the same theoretical issue to a lesser degree, the only upside being that it is slightly cheaper and has a 17s reload.
Emissary exists in the anti-rogue sweetspot, with just enough (600) damage to one shot a rogue (540 hp) if the shot is direct enough. Okay, now we might actually kill 1 rogue per 7 seconds. Which ironically, is enough time to produce just over 2 rogues in response. Another downside exists, with it's stationary nature and Rogue's decent range/speed, and rogue forcing all front-line defenses into uselessness, what is going to stop the rogues bridging the 590 elmo gap and abusing emissary's fixed position?
Bombing them with ravens is even more inefficient/costly. You will lose the battle if you try to make that trade on even or even advantageous footing.Burst
With the two problems above combined, it becomes apparent that stinger exists neatly in the sweet spot of being able to efficiently fight rogues. It has the correct tier of damage and reload time to be the perfect anti-rogue rate-of-kill. Except everyone and their grandmother knows at this point, that 2250hp / 345 damage = 6.5 -> 7+1(for sacrifice) rogues to instantly burst a 450 metal structure at the cost of 120 metal. There may exist a theoretical stinger-forest creep approach to dealing with rogues, backed by enough welders or convicts, but that opens you up to arty. Those stingers also aren't going to go raid the enemy.Dance on the spot AI, retreat advantage, AoE
We've already seen that rogue has a good time against recluse. But it gets worse. I have watched a single rogue dance against 6 recluses and kill 2.5 of them before it died. That's nearly 6 times cost made. Though no sympathy for spiders against shields.
Let's switch to more conventional skirmishing, like against ronin. The combination of increased range and AoE mean that ronin need to advance to shoot rogues. Advancing can often mean tightening proximity to eachother, which rogue's already convenient arc salvo AoE can exploit. If you run some attack move tests in single player, you'll see it plain as day. I've done same cost 33 ronin to 25 rogue on attack move, and the rogue have won 21 rogues to zero ronin. A profit of 2520 metal. Stationary bulkheads and buoys fare little better, as our friend rogue weaves in and out of shots at the low, low cost of no micro. Thanks to endless dancing they become silly hard to land a hit on in a timeframe where 2-3 more have not come to replace the one you did hit. Games become a frustrating and desperate search for something, anything, that can actually lock onto the little bastards in a timely
and accurate manner.Sight range
Just a small edit to mention a subtle detail not often considered. Rogue's sight range is 583, whereas Ronin's is 523. This subtle detail means that unless you have some other reason to have good vision, fighting into rogues can often feel like you're fighting blind into something that knows how to target you very well.Paired with the current #1 combat raider
Well, why not raid them like you're meant to do against skirmishers? Simple and easy answer. Bandit currently dominates other raiders, particularly in high density where micro-plays aren't as easy to pull off. Kodachi might have some chance here? But otherwise, rogue comes equipped with the perfect high granularity sidearm. It's not possible to effectively raid them whilst bandit stands buffed.Possible counters
Firewalker. That's it. And that's if you don't break the front getting one. Though I'd wager purchasing an aspis in response to the first firewalker shot soundbyte isn't that hard of a counter-ask.GoogleFrog
I hope you'll take this more nuanced breakdown into account and consider rogue for rebalancing, sooner rather than later. A 120 metal unit shouldn't have this much influence over the game.
Here is one replay: B1393994 2 on Scaryland v1.02
There are many more. Maybe others who play more than me can contribute some.