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Stupid and long

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May 14th, 2017
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  1. I guess I'll point out, first of all, that this will be from a 1v1 perspective and an Ork perspective, which is almost exclusively what I've played so far. I'll gladly accept any disagreements and that I might be wrong on some things. I've also revised this several times as I've experimented in more games. This isn't really a faction vs. faction analysis, just some things that seem to affect all factions to some extent. Although there is some more Ork-centric stuff in here, too. I'm sure I'll miss some things, but this is already long, so I'll keep it here for now. I also don't claim to be the best player, but I would consider myself competent. And obviously, without a ladder or real knowledge of where the people I play stand in terms of skill, it's hard to know.
  3. **1. Squad Health, Retention, and One-Shots**
  5. This topic is my main reason for frustration, and it ties into the other topics I'll write about. As Orks, you have high model, low health squads, and because of this, area of effect abilities (AoE) can have devastating effects on your squad retention. As two examples, Farseer Macha's Psyker Blast has one-shot my squads on many occasions (she isn’t common any more with Scorpions being so prevalent); and with the Stormboyz Suicide Bomma ability, I have one-shot many opposing Ork squads, as well as Scout Marines (I heard this was changed, but I haven't seen a huge difference tbh). Weirdboy is capable of this as well, especially with other sources of stun. And these Elites can come out in the first 4-6 minutes of the game if they are in the player's loadout. Sooner if you invest in an Elite Point Generator early. The damage can be mitigated by spreading, and you can still win engagements in these cases, but if you're ever microing somewhere else, your units clump up due to movement, or your units are just not spread out, you can lose the game instantly, in one short engagement. And some of them happen faster than you can reasonably react to anyway; there is little to zero counterplay.
  7. This also ties in to map balance as I'll try to explain further down. It is incredibly unforgiving and frustrating losing games that way in the early- and mid-game. This is also possible with Banshee and ASM charge abilities when more than one squad is present. And in those cases, even if your squads don't die instantly, they aren't getting out alive.
  9. This isn't as big an issue in the very late game when those squads have less significant impact, but it is still frustrating losing two or three squads of sluggas in an instant because they naturally blob up as you charge in to an enemy line or they aggro onto an enemy charging at you. They feel worthless, and they're barely even useful as a meat shield at that point. The most use they can have at this point is to sit backline in a Trukk to be launched into enemy units, but Nobz are more effective in that role late-game anyway. If the Sluggas aren't the ones in the Trukk, they melt. This is the case even with one or two tiers of infantry health upgrades.
  11. I should point out that I don't think comebacks from the early game should be made more forgiving. I just think that these individual abilities shouldn't be able to win fights, and games, by themselves.
  13. **1.5. Player Control and Counterplay**
  15. I'll just say here that it is very easy to set up the aforementioned one-shots with quick stuns or knockback. Orks have the Trukk eject, Suicide Bommaz, level 9 Stormboy ability on the Trukk, upgraded Slugga charge, taunts; SM have stun grenades, the Elite Tactical Squad's slow grenade, Librarian's magic circle of pain; Eldar has Scorpions and other things I can’t remember right now; there is also the general slow on melee attack. Heavy on the Ork stuff examples, but that's what I know the best. It makes one-shot mechanics easy to set up in many cases, and removes a lot of the control from the victim. Taking control away from players is, in many cases, infuriating. It can be done to some extent, but not when it can lose them the game instantly.
  17. On the topic of player control, I've become frustated with the fact that using an ability, but not going through the whole act of using the ability, will trigger the cooldown as if you had used it. This is fine for channeled skills, but for instant abilities like jumps or similar, losing a squad because you got hit the instant between hitting the hotkey and the ability activating is not fun. Maybe that's just me. And maybe it’s a bug. Knockback also apparently cancels the Trukk tractor beam pull when you knock back the unit being pulled.
  18. **2. Aggression and Pressure**
  19. I love aggression as a core concept of RTS. It is my preferred style of play. Multi-pronged attacks or harassment, timing your attacks with upgrades or units, or just generally putting on unrelenting pressure to gain a position of better map control and economy; taking early control of the map and the flow of the game pressures your opponent to move awkwardly out into you.
  21. I find this can actually be enjoyable in the early game in DoW3. Flanking and unit-to-unit micro is fun, and baiting responses from your opponent to open up weaknesses in other locations is a viable form of pressure and movement early on (depending on the map which, again, I'll get into later). The exception is in the very early game; when you face SM, with their various forms of knockback and stun (Scouts, Drop Pod, ASM) and Eldar with their comfortable ranged kiting, shield buffer, and grenades. And Scorpions I guess (later), but they're a whole balance issue by themselves. It's hard to deal damage to or bleed Eldar, and as a result, you take more damage while falling back and often lose far more than you gain. This leads to situations against both SM and Eldar where it almost feels necessary to rush out quick Lootas and set up a defensive offense to bait the opponent back into your Lootas rather than putting on direct pressure. Other options just feel less consistent. And every game I've played against an Ork player who starts with or rushes me with multiple Slugga and Shoota squads I've rebuffed comfortably. This is up for debate. Could just be that I'm misplaying it somehow. Or it could be a meta thing, since the DA and ASM doctrines seem to be common. Once each side is set up and moving, the flow of the game is good, to a point.
  23. In my opinion, this starts to fall apart in the mid- to late-game. Aggression is strongly punished at this point if you aren't already at a solid army advantage. Often times, if you don't have a distinct army advantage - or an army initiation advantage in terms of Elites - attacking into an enemy position will lose you the game, unless your opponent is set up terribly. This, once again, ties strongly into maps, so I'll keep it brief here.
  25. This, in my experience, has led me to rely heavily on timing attacks, attacking as my Elite units come out or sometimes with Trukk reinforce so I can have an advantage. If you miss this window and/or your opponent is equally equipped, there is no more opportunity until your opponent makes a move or you force your opponent to make a move. The latter is difficult because of map issues I'll bring up later. And conflict may be intended to revolve around contested resource points, but all you have to do to stay even is destroy any generators placed there, which can be done safely from range in most cases (not on K'homet's Pass, but that's a map issue again). This leads to situations where neither player can comfortably attack for a while, so both just sit back and macro while trying to harass a little bit maybe.
  27. And sending squads to harass can often lead to wiped squads just due to the close proximity of your opponent's army or lack of approach/retreat points for your harassing squads. This is a map issue as well.
  29. Just another note related to aggression: Base Turrets. Base Turrets prevent people from rushing the enemy down early game. That's fine, I guess, although I'd prefer that not be the case. Learning how to deal with aggression is better for gameplay choice than making strong or all-in aggression entirely unviable. An overwhelmed or out of position enemy can easily kite back to the turret's range, and you have no choice but to run away. In any other RTS, that game would be either over or leave you at a large advantage. And I do understand why Relic want people to be able to consistently survive beyond that. It's good for player retention. But beyond the early-game, if you have effectively won the game, taken all the points on the map, but your opponent has fallen back to his base and won't surrender, you are forced to macro up an army strong enough, or an economy strong enough, to either push through the turret regardless, or be able to push the tower with enough resources remaining to build another army after you are forced to sacrifice yours.
  30. If that won't be changed, another game mode would be nice. Something like DoW2 and CoH2 with victory points maybe. Not sure how Relic feels about that.
  32. **3. Maps. Finally.**
  33. There are very few, obviously. I'm certainly not the first one to bring this up, but not only are there not many, there is only one, in my opinion, that is fairly good (1v1 K'homet's Pass). Charon's isn't terrible, but there isn't really much room for creativity or movement. You can probably tell by now, but it is my belief so far that the things most holding back gameplay decision making are the maps. Obviously, this is not to say there aren't strong internal and faction vs. faction balance issues as well, but that isn't really my focus in this thread.
  35. In a lot of cases, I think the above two topics are symptoms of problems with maps:
  37. -- Choke Points:
  39. Choke points are an important part of strategy. They can be used as a baited engagement point or as a means of deterring aggression. But an overabundance in a map will heavily favor a defensive player, or the player with more area of effect and crowd control abilities. And the lack of any will heavily favor more "swarmy" armies. Port Saunderus is essentially a giant choke point. Every corner you turn can be exploited by AoE, and the path you turn into leaves the same amount of room to maneuver. In addition to this, there are only really two paths for movement, both of which can be easily scouted by a worker in smoke cover. You can stagger your units, but if you do, you're vulnerable to a head-on engagement. At every point, it is fair to expect an Elite's AoE ability to drop and decimate your army from smoke cover. And because movement is necessary for aggression and pressure, you have to take that risk. If you are the aggressor, that risk can frequently lose you the game based on movement-based positioning alone. This can be true in other games, but not to the extent it seems to be here.
  41. This might mean that the best option is hover vehicles to bypass terrain. And it's fine for maps to favor certain playstyles. But the game becomes stale when that is the most efficient and only effective means to be aggressive without risking the instant wipe of squads and loss of engagements to AoE and unavoidable, narrow-lane blobbing.
  43. -- Movement:
  45. Movement is important (wow). It allows you to maneuver around your enemy and force them into different positions in an attempt to create openings for exploitation. But let's take a look at the maps:
  47. **Charon's Rest**: Two main "lanes"; one middle corridor that can be - and is - often covered by ranged units or Waaagh! towers to shoot at anything moving through; one safe side-to-side corridor to move your units from one lane to the other. If you have a hover vehicle or stealth unit positioned well, you can know where your opponent is moving at all times and react quickly. There's some space on the sides, but your opponent's army is either very close to the possible harassment point, or doesn't have to worry about harassment too much because the path to that point is *behind* the shield generator. Or both. Or, they can just comfortably counter-harass. Your army can also very easily become trapped there, with your opponent able to box you in and keep you there while they send out a unit or two to capture your other points. It is possible to get there with jump units and hover squads, but that is about it without risking a full squad wipe - often without even clearing the point; they can be spotted on the mini-map as they pass the shield generator. And because of that, there isn't much thought to harassment if you have the opportunity - move forward, harass, hope your opponent overreacts, move back, repeat at some point if you haven't won or lost the game already.
  49. On the Ork side, you can use the Trukk ejection ability to shoot a squad of sluggas up onto the point, and that is cool. You're making your Trukk vulnerable to do so, and you can't be too aggressive with your main army again until your Trukk returns. You will probably lose the squad, but you gain more. Harassment with a calculated risk/reward is good. But on this map, it's about all you can do because there isn't really anywhere to move after the early-game. The contested points are comfortably within range of your army because most of the time, your army - or even your base - can be set up on the middle ridge. There is no real conflict point.
  51. **Port Saunderus**: As I mentioned above, movement is dangerous on this map. It makes you incredibly vulnerable, and it makes crowd control abilities very powerful. The natural points are spread out enough on this map that you can send a squad confident that it will take out at least some of the point's generators if you time it right.
  53. The contested resource points are fairly easy to take out from range if your opponent isn't sitting on them. But most of the time, they are. And in that case, you can be sitting on the other, giving each of you easy access to the other's natural resource point and one of their shield generators. Defending that generator can be very difficult if your army is on the opposite side of the map because moving to defend puts you at risk of AoE. If you move through your base, you make your defensible position open to attack. Because attacking into the opposite contested resource point means movement through a choke point (and on one side, shield cover), doing so is generally a bad idea, and can very easily lose you the game. This makes for games where both sides just kind of sit around, deny the mid point when they can, and play defensively until the late game or a strong timing. If you're playing someone who can manage engagements well, being aggressive in these cases will not help you.
  55. **K'homet's Pass**: Three general movement paths that intersect; plenty of decision for harassment; area to spread out for engagements, but movement can be punished by chokepoints in the shortest base-to-base pathways; breakable generators that allow for greater mobility.
  57. Harassment is possible early on because there is room around contested points to move, and secondary paths to kite around and draw units away. Being aggressive on this map doesn't require that you fully commit to an engagement, and it can actually favor people who harass and move at the same time. If you want to play defensively, you can scout the paths with workers in order to be in position in time, but it requires more forethought than it might on the other two maps. Too much room for harassing units to maneuver, maybe, but overall it's a large improvement from the other two 1v1 maps in my opinion. Could be mitigated a bit by just having less stealth cover in these areas, but I don't know. I like this map.
  59. As maps are now, I think they're very limiting in approaches to aggression, movement, and harassment. Without more viable alternatives, the game feels like it has distinct periods of action and then heavy lulls where you aren't really doing anything at all, and where doing anything at all could lose you the game. It could just be overall lack of player experience - the game hasn't been out long after all - but right now, winning games feels more like exploiting the other person's mistakes (and better exploiting one-shots; see 'The Anti-Fun Problem' thread as well), rather than playing better or smarter than another good player. And I think this could be softened somewhat by more interesting map design.
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