As there are few weeks left till the end of the season, I wanted to start this thread with ideas, suggestions and feedback what will be a more interesting config for the next season.
With out going to crazy, please share your opinion on
What was good in the current config?
What was annoying?
What can be done better?
What is missing for you?
As there are few weeks left till the end of the season, I wanted to start this thread with ideas, suggestions and feedback what will be a more interesting config for the next season.
Feedback like this is really important to us when making config adjustments. A few more questions we are especially interested in that may not be clear just from watching games. We have our own thoughts on these of course, but don’t want to bias the discussion.
‘Units’ includes upgraded and baseline units:
- Do all the units and their upgraded versions feel like they have a clear, distinct situations where they are stong?
- Ideally, units that are strong more often (eg. Destructors) are less impactful in these common scenarios. Units that are strong less often (eg. scramblers) should be very impactful when they do come into play
- In addition to these unit-specific goals, we want to encourage diverse strategies that feel like they have noticeable weaknesses and potential responses. What strategies feel dominant, static, and difficult to respond to?
- We like for different configs to have their own flavor and feel distinct, and hoped to achieve this in season 5 with upgrades. What are your thoughts on the upgrade system as it exists today?
At a meta-level, if you have any comments on this design philosophy, that is also helpful feedback.
I think that the season 5 config/meta was a solid improvement on the season 4 meta because the addition of the upgraded filter made it possible to defend the corners more effectively. This led to a wider variety of attacks being used instead of mostly just the corner attack.
While the filter upgrade is effective in a number of situations, I think that both the destructor and encryptor upgrades are slightly too costly for what they accomplish.
The destructor currently can be upgraded to do double damage, but this doesn’t increase its effectiveness too much against the fully upgraded ping stack, and it is very costly if it is destroyed.
Here are some ideas for destructor upgrades:
- Normal destructor deals half the damage it does today, for a cost of 3 cores (maybe with slightly lower range too), but can be upgraded to today’s destructor for 3 cores. This way you can build today’s destructor if you want, or if you have more space you can build two cheapo destructors which together would have the same damage output and twice the stability.
- Keep the normal destructor the same. Have the upgraded destructor do 3x damage. This makes it a bit more worthwhile to upgrade the destructor, while still not being too overpowered.
The upgraded encryptor is also slightly too expensive for what it does. Here are some ideas for what the upgraded encryptor could do:
- Encrypt for 5 instead of 4 hp. This means that you would now need only 4 instead of 5 upgraded encryptors in order to make pings 3-hit to destructors.
- Slow down units. If this makes EMPs and other offensive units move at the same speed this could lead to interesting combo attacks. If the slowdown effect applies to enemy units this could lead to new types of defenses where you slow down enemy units and then destroy them.
Glad to see these topics being discussed! When I have more time, I may add more thoughts to the conversation.
In case you didn’t realize it, that puts the base destructors exactly in line with Season 1 & 2. Not saying we shouldn’t “go back”, but I think the cost of a destructor being more than the cores you get in a single turn has been a positive change to get players thinking about how they manage their core budgets.
Regarding Encryptor upgrades, I definitely think something should be tweaked about them. I haven’t found a compelling board state where I’d pick upgrading over just building a new encryptor.
Lets talk Upgrades.
They are a welcome addition. I was not sold at first, but they bring “New Effects” with out making the game to complex.
There is just one odd think for me from the begging… how you can make an upgrade in the same round as you build the unit …
I know there are arguments both ways. But I like more the idea to invest more in a position, for an extra effect.
- Destructor Damage upgrade is silly… + one range will be way more interesting… and will make the meta
- Upgrades can be made only on already spawned units, but have slightly better effect.
- Removing the incentive for selling upgraded unit will make them more special: only returns the base cost, but upgrades have slightly better then 2x effect.
- higher scaling for tier 2 units. Having ~250% total cost of 300% of the effect.
– filter with 180 health for 2.5 cores.
– Destructor with +2 range for 15 cores.
– Encrytor with 9 shield for 7.5 cores.
Lets talk Scrambers:
I would pay DOUBLE, for a Scrambler that actually works…
Even with the current settup, it is hard to use scramblers for defense.
I use them extensively … but the only way to make them work is to send a mob, 3-4 scramblers from different location and hope they actually hit something before dying.
With their slowness (even with the high health) if they get in to Destrcutor range, they just die.
And it is hard move them to a further location, or protect a frontal area for longer.
On the other hand, making them to strong can give a bad incentive, to use them as escort, suicide, or scoring … and this are not proper uses for a defense unit.
- reduce the damage (10) and give them something better in return. They have great match vs the other information units, if they actually hit them.
- increase speed from 0.25 to 0.34 (lets figure our how math works !). They will not be used for escort, and will be slightly faster.
- I would really like to see Scrambler costing 2 bits, (or 1 bit 1 core ?!) and have really powerful presence, but removing the breach, suicide incentive.
– bits:2, speed:0.34, health:60, range:4.5, damage_i:20.
– bits:1, speed:1.0, health:1, range:3.5, damage_i 32, breach_cores: 0.
I agree, filter upgrades are strong and balanced in my opinion and could stay as they are.
Slowing down attacking units like emps and pings seems interesting but it’s propably to strong. Half the speed I think means about double the strength against firewalls in many cases.
The destructor upgrade I think is not that bad. Especially close to the corners, where there is not much space they can be very effective. But it could be a bit cheaper I guess (like 4 Cores for the upgrade).
For the encryptor upgrade with prices and stats as it is right now, I would like to have infinite range on it, so you could put it in a save spot and still affect all units.
I’d vote against an infinite range, I think it’s important to need to balance range with spawn location / path traveled (and I say this as someone who will still accidentally builds encryptors that don’t end up encrypting anything).
I like it when there is incentive to put encryptors in a more risky position. In the beginning this meant having a shield decay, but some recent single-day competitions had the upgrades give a larger shield value based on the Y location of the encryptor which I think was a pretty fun idea!
To add a more out there idea to the pile - in Season 1 (for longer than I care to admit) I thought encryptors actually boosted the health of firewall units and not information units. That could make for some interesting defenses.
That’s a good point. I just cannot thin of anything else to buff the encryptor without making it to strong.
I agree that the upgraded encryptors are really underwhelming currently. My code is capable of playing them if it ever helps… and it doesn’t really ever. I really like the idea of encrypting firewalls! Think of the mayhem possible if a bunch of encryptors are destroyed and the corresponding firewalls suddenly die as well if they were too low on health!
Another idea for encryptors is if an upgraded unit gave a larger boost but had some other restrictions on it: these upgraded encryptions don’t stack, or the boost only applies to every other unit, or the number that can be played on the board has a limit.
Or maybe upgraded encryptors instead of increasing stability of info units, increase the damage they do, by say 5%.
With destructors, I do enjoy the fact that you always have to save up to play a destructor: it makes defense planning more important. On the other hand, the difference between “cheap” and upgraded destructors could still favor this balance, by making the cheap destructors a lot less powerful. So say a normal destructor costing 4 and doing only 4 damage, as compared to maybe an upgraded one costing a total of 8 cores, and doing 8 damage, and also having a greater range! It would be very interesting to have a bigger difference between the two kinds of destructors, so that you would actually have an incentive to use them as essentially different pieces.
I would also be for something that makes scramblers a little easier to use. I like the idea of just giving them a speed of 3 instead of 4, just speeding them up a little bit. If they do less damage to info per frame, like only 10, that would be fine, and made up for by their large health. And/or maybe give them a slightly larger range, like say 5 or even 5.1.
I feel like faster scramblers would be harder to use. The faster they go, the faster they blow up on your opponent’s destructors, and you have a smaller window where they’ll be where you want them to be. Trying to get scramblers to be effective is one of my favorite parts of the game.
I agree with the others that upgraded filters are often useful, destructors sometimes in niche cases, and encryptors rarely if ever. Space is a resource, so upgrades that give less than double the power for the same cost can be useful in some situations. If every unit was twice as good in every way when upgraded there would be no reason not to upgrade every unit.
This config does a lot to prevent corner staggered ping cannons and 7-EMP balls from being unstoppable, and I haven’t seen or found any strategies yet that seem particularly oppressive. EMP lines seem particularly strong, but don’t seem dominant to the level that those two strategies were last season, and the more dynamic algos seem to be doing well.
I like the idea of upgraded encryptors changing unit speed, maybe as a symmetrical effect for both players, so all units around that encryptor will move either faster or slower (not sure which would be better). If it affects both players it might be more balanced, although strong.
Note: In this post I use ‘+’ to denote an upgraded unit
With your feedback in mind and after watching many of the games from the past few weeks gold competitions, me and C1Junaid have come up with our tentative plan for the Season 6 config. This config will go live tomorrow, but we are open to making small adjustments within the first week or so based on feedback.
Normally, we have been leaving the config up for 2 seasons, but feel like we clearly missed the mark on one of our design goals this season: Making sure that all of our units had a clear and distinct role to play. The two units we are unhappy with are, of course, the destructor+ and encryptor+ which are underwhelming for reasons spelled out a dozen times over in this discussion.
Our goal for this config change is simple: Rework the encryptor and destructor to make their upgraded versions more compelling.
Overview: Encryptor+ shielding now scales with its Y position. Overall, it should be a significant buff, but both versions of the encryptor should have a role in the game.
- Base shield on encryptor+ reduced to 3 to match the base version of the encryptor
- Encryptor+ shielding now scales with Y position, gaining 0.3 more shielding for every tile it is placed closer to the frontline. In row 10, it is equally as effective as a regular encryptor with a huge range.
Encryptor change reasoning
Having encryption scale with Y position allows you to get a lot of value, but requires you to place your encryptors in the front. Placing these new encryptors front-and-center of the board can give your attackers on both edges a powerful shield due to their high range. This opens up new base configurations and attack strategies and can reward players who are able to maintain an aggressive frontline while leaving them vulnerable to EMP lines.
Having bases with high-value units in the center also encourages players to develop strategies capable of focusing on the center of the board to destroy those juicy encryptors.
Overview: The big destructor has effectively been removed. Currently, due to overkill damage and encryptor breakpoints, this unit is pretty tricky to balance just by adding more damage. Instead, we are making a mini-destructor that we believe has a ton of flexibility.
- Base destructor now costs 2
- Base destructor damage is now 5, from 16
- Base destructor range is now 2.5 from 3.5
- Upgrading a destructor now costs 4
- The total cost of the upgraded destructor is 6, and it has all the properties of the old base destructor: 16 damage, 3.5 range
Destructor change reasoning
We think the mini destructor will be a compelling unit to build for the following reasons:
- Lets you prop up a weak defense on a turn that you would have spent completely saving for a destructor
- Lets you cover a lower-risk area with a smaller investment.
- Lets you mess with opponents that are making use of the encryption breakpoints
However, we don’t think it will be feasible to use these for your primary defense, especially in the corners.
Why were scramblers not changed
Scramblers have consistantly been one of the more difficult to use units, but we are content that they do have a role to play and strategic value. While it is less common than they payoff than the bread-and-butter units, they can shutdown a huge attack. A perfect scrambler play can have the potential to waste a ton of enemy bits and swing a game, and there is a lot of strategy involved in playing with and around them. I’m pretty happy with their role in terminal as is.
We are a bit worried that we are overcompensating on the encryptor change. When testing for the orginal season 5 config, we went with the conservative +1 shields because we were a bit worried about their power at +2 shields… and now they are +3 or more if placed effectively. If every base in all of terminal is running tons of encryptors in the front, I will probably reduce the scaling per y from 0.3 to 0.25 pretty early into the season.
For the mini destructors, I am confident that they will be built sometimes, but they might be too weak to be anything more than a bridge unit to help when saving up for a ‘real’ destructor. I am considering increasing their range to 3.5 and reducing their damage to 4, but think that their current low range makes for interesting decision making so i’m hoping that works well.
I would suggest a minor change to small Destructor to keep things consistent:
- base cost 2->3, upgrade cost of +3, for total of 6 as all other upgrades cost the double of the original unit.
- buff the damage a bit to compensate for the cost 5->8. 8 plays well with all break points.
There is also an aspect though that I really appreciate the asymmetry? I think it could help lead to truly different behavior than what we have seen before! A straight “half a destructor” just doesn’t feel as interesting or novel.
My concerns were mostly practical. Currently all, upgrades are with the same cost as the original unit.
Making a exception on this will introduce new elements in the config, and new way of handling upgrades.
This will break all starter algos kits, simple algos that rely on GameLib and bosses.
As this update was supposed to be minor, not sure if the breaking changes were taken in to account.
I am all up for bigger difference between units and upgraded units, but having it consistent for all units will be nice.
I’m a bit confused by the second sentence.
If the first sentence is true, then I would assume, that in row 10, the encryptor+ is as effective as two base- encryptors, meaning an encryption of 6?
I assume the range of the encryptor+ is the same as in season 5, right?
If my previous assumptions are correct, that yould mean that in my opinion upgrading the encryptor can be better than in season 5 but will still almost never be better than just building two base encryptors.
Defending encryptors in rows higher than 10 is very hard and even though the range is very lange, when putting it to the right side, it wont affect units going left which is not a problem when putting multiple encryptors in the back.
If I am going to be paying 8 for a unit that needs to be in row 10 to be almost as good as just two normal encryptors (since it will only have half the health), I am going to want a good reward for the vulnerability it puts on my cores!
So far, I have never been in a situation where I have run out of space for encryptors. I run out of cores first every time, so the only thing that makes this encryptor better is if it has y > 10 such that I get more encryption than two normal encryptors; but then it is still very vulnerable for only a small gain!
It is not great for full size cannons, but if you are running EMP lines + optional small cannons,
it can be useful to have all attack paths encrypted:
Some agresive EMP lines on row 13 or 12 can get even better effect.
Temporary Encryptors+ for Doom Cannon can be fun too
We don’t need Encryptors+ to be GREAT, as Scramblers they should be heavily situational.
Ragarding the destructor changes, I think that the new base destructors could be a cheper defence against emps since they can one-hit-kill them if they are not encrypted.
Just the reduced range makes this idea less viable I think. But this has to be tested I guess.
Welcome to Season 6
I do agree that consistency has value, but I wanted the real destructor to still feel like a ‘big’ investment, and the mini destructor to feel like a cheap, temporary, and weak unit. I think that their current costs help differentiate their role/feel.
The current engine is already setup to handle this cost change without causing breakage. By setting ‘cost1’ inside of an upgraded unit, the engine will know that it has a different price. I don’t expect this to cause breakages.
Thinking about it more, I think the worst-case scenario is that these new units are barely used again, and I doubt that this change will be game-breaking, so we will start off with upgraded encryptors having +1 base shielding as well, making them a bit more core-efficient as well as their other advantages.
I suspect with this change, most strategies will want to make use of these upgraded encryptors, and there will be little reason to use base encryptors. I could be off on this of course, but if it does become an issue we can open a discussion about nerfing them within the first few weeks of the season.