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Area cloak narrower role

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2 months ago
Units in ZK usually have a well-defined purpose, and have counters to them in most facs. Area cloak isn't exact straight OP, but its a general enhancer for almost any group of units, without having interesting counters. It's useful in too many contexts imo. Want to make your lances harder to counter? Area cloak! Roaming group of knights? Area cloak! Snitches getting stopped before they get in range? Area cloak! In lobpot its not really a tactical move as just a natural part of most clusters once the game goes on. Often there's a cloak or three and everyone just stacks their units in there and walks them forward. There's counters but it acts as too much of a non-specific AOE buff.

Units with individual cloaks also have the uniqueness of their role undermined when almost any other unit can be cloaked for a relatively low cost.

I'm wondering if area cloak could have a narrower and primarily offensive role of sneaking units into enemy controlled area or to hit key units, rather than acting as a general enhancer for any cluster of troops (except shields, poor shields). For example it could have a much smaller AOE and a much longer re-cloak time to its units, but get a buff to HP. I'm also wondering if it could have an e-war counter of some kind (other than just napalm everywhere).
+2 / -0

2 months ago
Well, being general-purpose is a good property, it helps a situation stay dynamic.

True that it is an enhancer for many other units. ZeroK is perhaps unusual for not having more units like that.

Seems like there basically has to be something similar to the current area cloaker.

The defensive role is critically important in a dense lobsterpot, making it possible for units to exist inside the range of endlessly-spammed artillery of various kinds. (Well, shields can also do that to some extent.)
+1 / -0
2 months ago
The re-cloak time for small units like glaives is probably ok,

but the area cloaker makes already op artillary even more op(especcially, if its surrounded by cloaked support), except with other area cloaked arty.

maybe there could be a re-cloak time penalty that scales with damage so that heavy arty, like lance, takes several seconds extra to re-cloak.


As for area cloak size, imho it shouldnt be too small since that makes microing just painfull,
but maybe one could experiment with a little bit smaller area and equally reduced energy intake.

+0 / -0
2 months ago
An E-War counter would also be nice.

maybe Owl/silo could get a D-Gun/missile style attack that decloaks an area similar in size to the area cloaker.
ofcourse it's cost/stockpile time would be high enought to prevent it from beeing op, but not too high to beeing useless
+0 / -0
- Remove Iris
- Remove Cornea
- Remove equivalent commander module

Conjurer can maybe stay

It's been a while since ZK deleted things.

quote:
maybe Owl/silo could get a D-Gun/missile style attack that decloaks an area similar in size to the area cloaker.

Inferno
+0 / -0


2 months ago
Area cloaker is a pure support unit so isn't bound by the factory-level counter system. It is even more pure than area shields in the sense that extra cloakers don't add much. Area cloak and area shield are morphs from static versions because I think they add enough to be worth not being niche.

I agree with you to some degree as I have been giving area cloaks relative buffs for situation when you don't know the army is there (as opposed to when you know there is an army, but not exactly where the units are). However, I don't think a larger redesign is required. The creativity/diversity aspect of ZK prevents general nerfs to area cloak. Something targeted may eventually prove necessary though. Perhaps make units unable to cloak while reloading.
+4 / -0
One area cloaker can cloak as many units as can fit inside it's area. It can be nerfed by dynamically setting its cost based on the number and value of units being cloaked. This is how other units, like infiltrator, have been crushed in the past(15 e/s per infiltrator is insane).

We have multiple systems in place to classify different units, and we could use one of those classifications. I'm pointing at "light, medium, and heavy weight" units based on transporter pickup.

Cloaking a large army of small units should incure a large energy fee, and cloaking large units should incure a significant energy cost. Also, I think the re-cloak time nerf meant to hit lance has hit many other unit stratagies.

To put numbers to these concepts, imagine this:

cloaktime: (proximity decloak, weapon fire/damage)
Light weight transportable units(glaive, duck, bandit, rouge etc.) should cost 1.5 e/s to cloak and have recloak times of (1.5, 3).
Medium weight transportable units(jack, minataur, lance, etc.) should cost 4 e/s to cloak and have recloak times of (3, 5).
Heavyweight transportable units(demistriders like Grizzly, Tremor, Jugglenaught, goliath, and striders) should cost 8 e/s to cloak and have recloak times of (5, 8)

The energy cost theoretically is applied to the iris/cornea that is cloaking the unit. the areacloaker would then have the e/s cost of:
cost = 1.5 + 5 + 1.5(#light) + 4(#medium) + 8(#heavy)
where 1.5 is the cost of jamming, 5 is the base cloak cost, and the additional terms are dynamically allocated to what's currently being cloaked.

Edit: as it stands right now, if you have 3 infiltrators(45 e/s), it might be more economical to build an area cloaker to decrease the cloak cost to 16.5 instead of building another fusion, because when a personal cloaked unit stands in an active area cloaker it cloaks for free.
+1 / -0
Variable energy cost just sounds like a massive pain to me.
  • Energy drain is only communicated on the UI so it would be very easy to miss.
  • It incentivises leaving units outside the cloak field to cut down on costs, which is fiddly. I don't want the UI to need some sort of cloak filtering.
  • Allied units would wander into your cloaker and cause an energy stall.
  • Maybe a widget to control cloaker radius would even become powerful.
  • I expect a linear function to make cloak very cheap early and prohibitively expensive late, which is the opposite of what I want.
  • I don't like basing things on unit cost. The scope of the transport Light/Medium/Heavy system should be kept contained in my view.

I don't even think an area cloakers scale in a simple way, so it is hard to justify increased cost. This is part of why I like area cloakers but don't want the snowbally type of auras found in many other RTS, such as armour or regen auras. Area shields are simpler example.
  • One area shield prevents the first 3600 damage (for simplicity) against whatever is underneath it, as a group. If you double the number of units under the shield it doesn't reduce more damage.
  • A regeneration aura grants free health, and the amount granted doubles if you double the number of damaged units affected by the aura.
Of course, you could design a regen aura that splits the healing between nearby units, but that seems unnatural. It is natural for a regen aura to heal each unit independently in the same way it is natural for a shield bubble to block incoming projectiles. Area shields effectively 'split' the blocked damage between nearby units.

Area cloakers aren't quite so simple, but I think they scale in a way closer to area shields than regen auras. Compare a cloaker hiding some Jacks. By hiding the Jacks this cloaker is doing two things.
  • The Jacks can get into range as enemies won't run from what they don't know is there.
  • The Jacks are not taking damage.
Both these benefits are mostly lost as soon as one Jack is revealed. A single Jack is worth running from in many circumstances, and in terms of DPS output, shooting at a decloaked Jack deals the same damage regardless of whether nearby Jacks are cloaked or not. There are nuances here, such there being different responses to three Jacks or ten Jacks, and cloakers are large enough for a bit of flanking. Obviously delivering a larger army of Jacks is more valuable, but the same can be said of shields. My main point is that countering the cloaking aspect of cloaked Jacks, with screening or AoE, only requires a single Jack to be detected. The counter doesn't scale with army size.

Cloaker behaviour moves a bit closer to the aura end of the spectrum with combat cloaking. Screening is not nearly as effective since the aim is to discover and snipe individual high value targets, not to check whether there are any units around at all. Most of the benefit each Lance derives from the cloaker is more personal since the enemy already knows that Lances are around. I'm not sure what can be done about cloakers being great in dense teamgames though, at least if they aren't going to be owled for everything but combat cloaking. Also, If the issue is just large teamgames then why do factory counters matter? Someone should have access to something like a Firewalker or Dirtbag if it's a big issue.

quote:
Also, I think the re-cloak time nerf meant to hit lance has hit many other unit stratagies.

It was meant to nerf other uses of combat cloak (I call the two types of cloak usage combat cloak and sneaky cloak). Reaver and Scalpel also seemed like they should decloak for a bit longer to allow a response to be mustered.

quote:
Edit: as it stands right now, if you have 3 infiltrators(45 e/s), it might be more economical to build an area cloaker to decrease the cloak cost to 16.5 instead of building another fusion, because when a personal cloaked unit stands in an active area cloaker it cloaks for free.

That's fine, the cost of the cloaker is the lack of mobility and vulnerability of the cloaker. Personal cloak isn't made obsolete by area cloaking because personal cloak is more flexible and reliable.
+2 / -0

2 months ago
quote:
I'm not sure what can be done about cloakers being great in dense teamgames though, at least if they aren't going to be owled for everything but combat cloaking. Also, If the issue is just large teamgames then why do factory counters matter? Someone should have access to something like a Firewalker or Dirtbag if it's a big issue.

IMO cloakers are not stronger than they should be in the dense team games. There are so many degenerate things going on already, that a cloaker starts to look mild. Extremely useful usually, vital sometimes.

How many games have I played where I have a section of map defended by sparse units under constant fire? Standing still, visible, for more than the flight time of an impaler missile is death, and cloakers are life. Arty spammers everywhere.
+3 / -0