State of the Game: Impressions and Daily Test Diary Pt. 2

tedstertedster Member
edited July 2 in Feedback

New thread! New title! New format!

Remember, these are only my opinions, summarizing my observations from the last thread as well as compiling some opinions other testers and devs have expressed that I wanted to record and share. I've broken this summary into several posts for ease of reading.

Gameplay, Pacing, and Objectives: Build 222 and Previous

Creep Camps

  1. Camp rotations feel less non-negotiable than in Test Weekend 4 (TW4), which feels good because we’re making more decisions and we’re less harshly punished for making a non-ideal decision.
  2. Being rewarded for microing neutral camps, rather than punished for not doing so, feels good
  3. Result: Less “check the box” style gameplay <== Hurray! It's not perfect, especially with the larger camps you often A-move into, but it's feels good so far

Titan Spawns

  1. 8 Gems per Titan results in less time spent moving between Titan spawns because you can finish them in one go
  2. Action is faster, but also very common to always “finish up a Titan” before responding to allies/objectives. Is this desired?
  3. Games with 8 gems are faster than those with 10, possibly becausecapping multiple Titans is more frequent after a won battle
  4. Difficult to tell if this feels like a positive or negative change, would require many more games to get a feel

Resource Management and How they are Used

  1. Rate of resource collection feels better than in TW4. Armies increase in strength at an exciting rate
  2. The new starting supply limit and restricted Queue size feel very good and encourage real choices
  3. There often feels like little downside to rushing straight for big, splashy units while relying entirely on T1 (sometimes with 1-2 T2 buffers thrown in the mix)
  4. There still feel like a limited number of map features which limits some strategies, like Purifiers guarding cliffs/corridors
  5. There still aren’t too many types of objectives to pursue when your team is behind. Comebacks still feel fairly rare

On Backdooring

  1. Backdooring has been patched which puts the emphasis back on the Titans and winning battles. This seems to have had the desired effect, though rushing a Nexus at the end of the game is still viable and feels very powerful
  2. Incidentally, game length continues to increase across the board as player skill increases, even one-sided games. Is this good or bad?

On AOE Snares/Slows

  1. There are a ton of these in the game right now, many of which feel pretty similar. White gets one, Blue gets a ton of them, Trappers can produce them, Green can approximate them with Sludges… and they feel to me a little dime-a-dozen as a result

    • Most of these abilities are strong, but they don't all feel clearly differentiated
    • As a result, many units feel somewhat rehashed to me (Zephyrs/Frostcallers/Shadows/Trappers) since the effects are something you see over and over again with slight variations
  2. Are there ways to disable/debuff that don’t involve AOE snares/slows? Glacial Rangers are a cool variant: each guy does its own Slow, and while as a group they end up hitting an area there is more push/pull to their usage than a single, circle-shaped target on the ground


  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 1

    Factions and Individual Units: Red

    1. Red feels like the most complete army, both on paper and in practice. It feels like the strongest blind pick due to the ability to complement any team in some manner
    2. Beetle Fighter changes mean Red can now fulfill any role on a team at least situationally well: Tanky, Poker, Ranged DPS, AOE Nuker, AOE Space Control, Ganker/Jungler, etc.

      • Red is not necessarily the best at every role, and has lots of good situational stuff that feels different than other factions. Beetles really exemplify this concept to me. More of this interesting faction diversity for everyone, please!
    3. Apocalytes were extremely strong and probably too cheap – the nerf makes a lot of sense, and I think will improve faction parity
    4. Pyrosaurs feel pretty squishy. It’s difficult to get much damage out of their AOE, and I’m rarely afraid of them
    5. Igniters feel neat and are quite solid, but are difficult for me to justify making/adding to my deck over other Red units. Red has great space control at Tier 3/Hero ults already. Slow, space-dominating projectiles also feel like a Blue ability more than a Red one to me (and Blue could use a unit like this)
    6. Dervishes feel 100% mandatory, much like Windrays. If I'm not making at least 1-2 Dervishes, my army is just worse at doing all the important things than if I was. They're cheap and only Tier 2 and make the whole army worlds better at everything, all the time
    7. Both Red heroes feel strong at different roles and in different situations
    8. I have a lot less to say about Red because usually when I pick Red I am thinking less about what does and doesn't work and more about what I can do to beat my opponent. This feels great!
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 1

    Factions and Individual Units: Green

    1. Green feels strong and more complete than Blue as a faction, though most games as Green feel relatively same-y to me, as well as games against Green, and it has a lot of overlap with Blue

      • Green also feels like it has a huge reliance on just a few specific units. Several green units feel very situational and others feel unfun for me to use, either because micro is difficult or because they are undertuned
    2. Grath and Hydros feel very similar and have extremely similar T1 troops. This results in my feeling somewhat restricted when choosing a core tank role
    3. Terrapin Troopers feel extremely difficult to micro for a Tier-1 unit. They are GREAT, but they are small, hard to click, require individual selection to use properly, and their HP are difficult to see due to their tiny size. Some of the devs have confirmed similar feelings about Terrapins so maybe this is already being looked at

      • Terrapin Troopers are particularly bothersome to me because as a T1 unit they seem like they should have low barrier-to-entry since it’s the first thing new players see and are supposed to try to master
    4. Howling Commandos feel very weak the way I've tried to use them and when they've been on my team. I don't think they beat things they seem designed to beat. They are expensive and as a result I always feel like I made a mistake once I've built them

      • Howling Commandos may be in a tough spot because they seem like a Tier 1.5 unit designed to hard-counter things, but the things they are designed to counter make up over 50% of starting armies. How to balance this?
    5. Seedbots and Grove Tenders both feel very strong, but have near-identical abilities. I find myself asking what this offers from a design perspective that a Seedbot Upgrade would not already cover? This feels like it contributes to the sense I've gotten of Green's samey-ness
    6. Bramblethorn Goliaths and Sludges both feel fun and interesting and are the most unique-feeling troops Green has. The current damage on both feels like it could be a bit low right now, but I’ll need to test more to find out if I'm just using them wrong
    7. Toxin Alchemists feel very, very narrow and seem easy to completely nullify. Their possible utility in jungling seems only marginally useful for their cost since creep camps aren’t hard to clear anyway

      • It feels terrible to lose a Toxin Alchemist in a fight because if they are sniped they often accomplish absolutely nothing. They are very difficult to micro since they have to keep shooting the same thing over and over which feels like a losing strategy to be shoehorned into, but I'm not sure how else to use them
      • Even vs. bots they seem ineffective at helping without dying quickly. We played a PvP game earlier where we had a huge lead over the Dev team and one of our players transitioned into heavy Alchemists and it felt like they were unable to do a point of damage to anything at all
    8. Rustborne Rhinos feel similar to Aquadillos, but also have yet to factor into games I have played. As an aside, I'm not yet sure how to make Tier-3 tanks feel “scary” apart from Sludges. Knockback effects seem like they could be a good way, so I'm going to play more with this unit
    9. Trebuchets feel fun to use, but almost never feel fun for me to play against. Playing against Trebuchet requires me to play a game-long, fairly uninteresting minigame of “dodge the off-screen thing” where the penalty is death and the reward is… continuing to play the minigame.

      • Dodging AOEs is usually fun to me because the reward – being able to snipe the caster, having time before the next cooldown – is fun. Trebuchets offer none of this because they are offscreen and never stop. I just want the game to end when I’m playing against Trebuchet. I don’t care who wins. They are the only unit that makes me think "I'm not sure I want to be playing Atlas right now."
      • Some people don't mind Trebuchets! But at least a few people I've talked to felt the same way. I hope that Trebuchet counterplay becomes more fun for me in some manner.
      • Getting hit with a freeze into Trebuchet blast feels pretty bad, especially if you never had a chance to spot the Trebuchet
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 1

    Factions and Individual Units: White

    1. White feels strong but extremely narrow. You can do a few things with White, and do them well, but filling "gaps" in your team composition seems outside White's capabilities much of the time. White feels more incomplete to me than the other 3 factions as a result, but I tend to place a higher priority on flexibility of roles than many players, I'm guessing

      • Unlike other factions which can fill gaps based on need, White feels like it's got to play the Ranged DPS and AOE Space Control roles. It doesn’t have tanks and usually can’t form a battle line due to no strong melee options, doesn’t have true AOE nukes, and seems to have trouble supporting some of its own units, but its sniping ability and sustained damage do give it a place on most teams
      • White relies more on teammates than any other faction, making them very hit-or-miss. If a team has poor communication, it can feel extremely frustrating as the White player who often has to follow his/her teammates around and might be unable to use some of its interesting units effectively
      • White feels more reliant on mass Tier-1 than any other faction
      • White’s upgrades tend to feel very mandatory to get early, as their units are very specialized and feel like they need the extra range/speed as soon as possible to stay afloat once Tier-2 comes online
    2. Sprinters feel weak under most circumstances and are difficult to work into any army. I find myself wishing I had something that can tank as White, but Sprinters feel like I'm hand-delivering scrap to my opponent. I'm not sure what kind of army I'd want to use Sprinters against - maybe I just need to figure this out?
    3. Purifiers feel like they have a number of problems, the greatest of which feels like White’s inability to tank for them. Purifiers are expensive and cost a lot of supply, and if a teammate is not intentionally tanking for them they feel nearly impossible to keep alive. That said, I think Purifiers themselves are good, fun units who are appropriately costed and I really like using them

      • This feels frustrating to me because Purifiers feel like a defining White unit, but feel extremely hard to use unless you have a coordinated team babysitting for you
    4. Deadeyes feel good, though you are highly encouraged to mass them if you make them since their narrow beams are significantly harder to dodge en masse, whereas 1-2 Snipes doesn't feel particularly threatening or hard to dodge. This isn’t intrinsically a problem, but does restrict the situations where they feel effective and can make it feel tough to recover after a loss

      • Deadeyes, like purifiers, are big scrap sinks because I rarely want just a few of them. In the case of Deadeyes, more always feels better, making it difficult at times to afford other units
    5. Zephyrs feel strong and have fun abilities, though they seem difficult to work into armies that are not merely mass-T1 due to White’s big scrap sinks and upgrade requirements
    6. Windrays are so powerful that I'm convinced I should always make them, but because of that I don't feel like I'm making meaningful choices. They are passive buffbots I always want. Windrays feel like the “Act 2 Mercs” in Diablo 2 terms.
    7. Precogniters seem cool but difficult to work into the game, considering all the scrap sinks I'm juggling when I play as White

      • Blessing feels weak because my opponent using AOE and attack-moving into me is already scarier than if they are focus-firing down my individual fragile units. Most White units die much less than a full volley in the lategame and I'm not sure what I could use to tank even if I was using Blessing. I feel like I'd be in a better position if I built 1-2 more Deadeyes and tried not to let the enemy get on top of me in the first place
    8. Conduits feel like traps. Channeled, increasing damage almost always feels like a trap. They are also very expensive, and I have no idea when I’d find time to build them. Is there a time when it's OK to stand still while fighting as White? I haven't really seen it come up, but I'm not sure how else to use a Conduit
    9. White does feel like it does one other thing better than any other faction: backdoor. White can stream expendable Tier-1 armies into a backfield like no other faction and can legitimately threaten to end a game if left unopposed
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 2

    Factions and Individual Units: Blue

    1. Blue feels like a faction with cool ideas that are very challenging to bring together all at once. It doesn’t feel weak (and often feels very strong on the right teams), but it does feel like it has challenges that make it harder to play to consistent success on teams that are not built for it

      • Four types of challenges I feel I've encountered: High micro requirements on important units, Restrictive deckbuilding choices, Difficulty being the DPS when needed, and Opponent hard counters. Will touch upon them in individual unit descriptions
    2. Hydros feels very similar to Grath, limiting the feeling of diversity somewhat, though each have their clear strengths

      • Hydros feels like he suffers a significant diversity problem in having no T1 or T1.5 options that are not shortish-range tanks
      • If teammates are also making melee units, for example in random matchmaking, Hydros sometimes cannot contribute to large fights early because its units are stuck behind the front line
      • Feels like there are fewer interesting early strategic choices for Hydros as a result of these things
    3. Plated Warriors and Shield Slugs both feel cool, but feel somewhat redundant with each other. Feels like a clear “obvious choice” will arise through playtesting.

      • PLEASE NOTE several testers disagree with this opinion. I'm going to be testing these guys aggressively over the next few days to see if I'm way off base
    4. Scuttleguards feel better to micro than Terrapins, but they feel somewhat redundant with both Tier 1.5 tanks
    5. Glacial Rangers feel really good because they have a powerful unique ability and don’t take up the same army space as the Tier 1.5 tanks. They are the Blue unit I am most happy to have in my roster
    6. Frostcallers feel like they should be a core unit for many strats, but seem underwhelming in damage, AOE, and debuff effect. The fact that they have to channel makes them hard to keep alive, as does the relative ease of avoiding their effect before too much damage has been inflicted

      • Watching a Frostcaller channel after the opponent has left the AOE feels really bad because I can see the writing on the wall - he's probably gonna get sniped, but for now he's too into his little froggy dance to notice
      • It’s been suggested by other testers that a larger AOE, or removing the channeling requirement, might make them feel more competitive, and I tend to agree that these would make me want to use them more. When I'm playing against them, they feel very easy to pick off and don't feel very dangerous to my forces
    7. Quadrapi are cool units that have been hampered by difficult micro and a tendency to wander to the front and die. Having to channel on a purely defensive caster is rough, as defensive AOE field-effect buffs are hard to use anyway since the opponent can often merely lay a hostile AOE on top of the field effect and force you to leave

      • This is cheating but I have played with the new Quadrapus and it is AMAZING and super fun and feels very strong, both its abilities are fantastic and I can see myself maxing out on them every game I play as Blue
    8. Shadows feel very limited in use, which is unfortunate because their ability is very cool. But they are badly hurt by the prevalence of Sentinels, the range at which they have to operate, and the limited uses they otherwise seem to have

      • Shadows are worse at recon than Sentinels by a large margin, so their primary use for me has been their AOE slow/DOT (which feels quite powerful if unchecked). Since it represents Blue’s only consistent AOE waveclear, it’s a compelling ability, but trivially countered once Sentinels enter play
      • …but even without Sentinels it’s fairly simple to snipe Shadows, so having such a hard counter is particularly hard to swallow and feels pretty bad if (like me) you really like using Shadows
      • Shadows have no easy way to get into the thick of a fight and often get stuck on other units, so keeping them out front before an engage is often necessary. But that means any detection allows for an Attack-Move snipe on the shadows without the opponent even intending to target them
      • The only other thing I think Shadows feel genuinely good at is killing Trebuchet, but having such hard counters when deck space is limited doesn’t feel particularly good
      • Shadows ARE very good as an early-game surprise unit for cutting off a retreating army of massed Tier 1 skirmishers. This will only work a few times a game at best but can create big swings early so the unit is definitely viable in a limited role, though a similar effect could possibly be achieved with Trappers who may prove to be a stronger pick overall
    9. Ancient Ice Frogs feel a little underwhelming for the massive cost and how quickly they can be brought down. Several testers have commented that they feel like they should have a significant damage component, or at the very least have an easier time repositioning

      • They can still produce very powerful effects, but they feel very dependent on teammates to properly time and execute big damage-dealing effects because Blue really doesn’t seem to have anything obvious that pairs with them
      • Ice frogs so far have been very all-or-nothing in my experience as a result: either they absolutely kill an entire army due to a teammate's AOE or don't seem to impact a fight at all
    10. Aquadillos feel underwhelming for huge T3 bruisers, as has been mentioned by numerous testers. I’m not afraid when I see them and when I make them I feel like I’m committing a lot to a unit that can still be focused down pretty fast
    11. Kingpins feel like the biggest problem blue has because they are Blue’s only source of Big Damage and are cool units, but feel like the most restrictive unit in the game for a number of reasons

      • If you want to have the ability to deal damage as Blue (say, because you are being randomly matched with teammates) you kind of have to take Kingpins – even if your plan isn’t to be the damage guy. Sometimes it’s important to have the ability depending on how a match goes - this is really tough for deckbuilding
      • If you take Kingpins, you have to take Transports, restricting your deck choices even more based on the above
      • If you take Kingpin/Transport, you have to have extremely good micro throughout a match to not lose everything which for many players can result in a bad experience, and since you have no other sources of big damage I sometimes feel forced into this paradigm
      • Taken together I feel this makes Kingpin play feel particularly stressful and restrictive on unit selection even if you like Kingpin/Transport play (which I do)
    12. Blue’s problems feel heavily magnified when it gets paired with a low-DPS team. It has a lot of trouble sharing the load with other tanks because it doesn’t have an easy way to contribute much DPS when the front lines are already clogged, and there feels like a lot of ways to AOE snare in the game already so Blue doesn’t have a monopoly on this. Without obvious consistent high-damage or AOE damage options (outside of Kingpin/Transport, which requires a complex skillset and takes up 2 slots in your deck) I and other testers have noticed that we sometimes feel lost about how to help a team
    13. When Blue is on the right kind of team, it works really well and feels great. When Blue is on the wrong kind of team, it feels confusing and bad because it's not clear what you could have done differently apart from not picking Blue
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 1

    Factions and Individual Units: Neutral

    1. Neutral units for the most part feel good – I love that any nation can have Healers or Transports without requiring a flavor excuse
    2. Trappers are cool but I do feel like they contribute to the “AOE Snare Overload” problem that I will talked about before
    3. Sentinels feel really problematic to me and a few other testers. They grant so much vision for so little cost that they seem to cleanly outclass the (fun, interactive) ward placement minigame that is a cornerstone of most MOBAs, which I’m not sure is as interesting. They hard counter Shadows and seem to soft counter other stealthed units. They kind of feel mandatory for at least one person per team to have, and are so good at revealing the map (even if they are just following around your army) that they feel like legal maphack
    4. Chillers feel out of place and don’t feel like a Tier-3 unit to me. I rarely if ever see them used. I’m not exactly sure when you’d want to make them or why since snare/stun effects aren’t difficult to come by much earlier and cheaper
    5. Healers are broken due to how move/autoheal is coded, and cannot be made to quickly retreat from a fight since they will stop to heal no matter what
    6. Engineers are undergoing changes right now and I really can't comment on them until Ion Cannons are finalized in some manner
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 1

    Test Diary Day 1: Build 223 - Blue Units

    Replay of the day: Gd562df43e1e14307a54e1570c021d6b8
    Features: Shadow midgame transitions, Quadrapus abuse, Ice Frog/Healer/Quadrapus synergy


    1. The new Quadrapus is a revelation. I think it is easily the best unit in Blue's arsenal, and it doesn't even feel close. Blue now feels like the absolute best faction at protecting teammates and holding a narrow passageway against massive incoming damage. Blue feels like it has a clear identity with Quadrapi
    2. The Quadrapus feels so good it is probably Blue's version of a mandatory unit - like Red's Dervish or White's Windray. An army with a Quadrapus, or better yet 4 Quadrapi, feels way, way stronger than one without because its effect is so multiplicative
    3. The Quadrapus makes other Blue units work much, much better. Ice Frogs feel great when paired with a Quadrapus, for example. I predict Aquadillos to feel great as well. Finally, they combo very well with upgraded Healers, which Blue often wants to make anyway. This contributes heavily to the feeling that I should always, always get Quadrapi
    4. The Quadrapus is super fun to use, because it is powerful and surprisingly splashy for a purely defensive unit. It feels EXTREMELY Blue


    1. The Shadow has cemented itself in my mind for being fantastic at one (and just one) role. However, it's a very important role: the Shadow feels like one of the cleanest ways to counter an opponent who has over-committed to mass Tier-1 early on in an attempt to bully a lane
    2. By sneaking 1-2 Shadows behind a big ball of ranged T1, 1-2 armies can converge on them and wipe them to a man if they have not diversified or built tankier units
    3. As a result, Shadows have a lot of value currently as a transition unit specifically to steal momentum in the midgame. They seem to fall off a cliff after this, but I've found that including them in my deck allows me to cut corners in the early Tier-1 battles in order to set up my midgame faster and cleaner than my opponents by stealing a critical fight and regaining map control
    4. I like the idea of units that have a powerful role at a specific point in the game but little utility outside it - this provides interesting deckbuilding choices. Do I include this unit for a specific timing window, or take something more powerful over the course of the full game?

    Ancient Ice Frog

    1. My earlier criticisms of the Ice Frog have fallen by the wayside due to how well they synergize with the Quadrapus. Ice Frogs were already good if you had a teammate that could drop a huge AOE to clean up after a Freeze: Now they are also great if you can simply keep them alive for ages while they tank and disrupt enemy lines for your own army

    Blue Summary

    1. The combination of Ice Frogs and Quadrapus removes most of the issues Blue had with lacking splashy AOE damage because they just don't care much about AOE damage themselves. It does place some deckbuilding restrictions on the Blue player (they probably want Healers, Quads, and Ice Frogs at the same time) but Blue now feels like it has a strong potential role on teams that lack big AOE burst that doesn't involve Kingpins
    2. Blue feels very powerful now at Tier-2 and beyond
    3. Blue feels much more diverse due to Quadrapi letting them utilize smaller groups of units to achieve similar effects. You'll never be incredible at DPS but you can now use Glacial Rangers and Aquadillos in much greater numbers to much greater effect and be very respectable damage. Blue feels much less shoehorned into the "tank" role as an entire army: Quadrapi can supplement teammate tanking or 1-2 elite tank units while the army does something else.
    4. There feels like less incentive to pick Hydros since Quadrapi get powerful heals and Glacial Rangers are even better in armies with Quadrapi (since you don't need as many tanks to hold a line)
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 2

    Day 2: Build 224. Titan Nerf, More Blue Units

    Replay of the Day: G5f2b1ddaa6d1420ca48964b7700aba23
    Features: 75 minute game where the timer loops around oh god

    Titan Nerf and other changes = LONG games

    1. This stealth update features a Titan that gets weaker over time rather than having a set expiration timer

      • The end result, coupled with other recent changes, appears to be even longer games - the above 75-minute replay is a fine example of this
    2. Teams that do not have a strong defensive option to keep a push alive seem to have a lot of trouble closing out the game currently
    3. While we've only seen one hour+ game, most games now seem to last between 35-40 minutes. The average length of games is continually increasing
    4. Most games are still "decided" around 10-15 minutes before the game actually ends. The cleanup phase is just lasting much, much longer than it ever did before.

      • Defending with mass tier 1 in your own base is very, very good at stalling out the game. Blue can overcome this pretty easily with Quadrapus pushes, but other factions have a lot of trouble if the defensive team just tries to trade armies over and over without trying to gain an advantage

    Aquadillos vs. Ice Frogs

    1. Aquadillos feel good to use now due to the rise of the Quadrapus as a viable support. They are great for engages, especially in a 1v1 situation
    2. They are very expensive however, and take up the same slot as Ancient Ice Frogs. It's almost impossible to use both due to resource/supply constraints

      • Because they cost the same amount of Shards, and because Blue feels like it has some wiggle room with using Supply due to good, cheap options for most roles, they have very similar opportunity costs
    3. Ice Frogs feel like they might be better for big team fights due to Ice Breath forcing hard, full-team engages better than Aquadillos do

      • Most lategame battles feature big team fights over bases
      • I find myself almost always wanting an Ice Frog for these scenarios
    4. As a result, I find myself wanting to use Aquadillos in many games, but feeling like I have to cut a possibly better unit to do so, and since both units come into play at the same time and fill about the same role I almost never choose the Aquadillo unless I am looking to mess around a little

    Shield Slugs vs. Plated Warriors

    1. This is similar to the Aquadillo/Ice Frog paradigm. Both are cool units, but feel to me like they competing over the same slot to do roughly the same thing

      • Some testers disagree strongly with this opinion. I'll be testing Slugs a lot more in the coming week to see if my thoughts change
    2. This observation feels like it is mirrored again with Frostcallers/Shadows
    3. Blue feels like it has a theme of overlapping units, which feels bad because most of Blue's units are very fun to use, but more than with other factions I feel like I'm being tasked with making a "good choice" or a "bad choice". Even if I'm wrong about which is the good and which is the bad choice, feeling like I have two similar options and have to figure out which is right feels bad
    4. When playing Blue, I feel like I'm often choosing the best unit out of a pool of like options for each slot, rather than assembling a unique team
  • MilleaMillea Member

    Shield slugs and plated warriors feel like they have completely different roles to me.

    Shield slugs are light armor and ranged, while plated warriors are heavy, have plate, and are melee. Shield Slugs deal more damage, while plated warriors are much more tanky. There's easily room for both a durable ranged relatively high damage unit and a pure tank in blue.

  • tedstertedster Member

    @Millea said:
    Shield slugs and plated warriors feel like they have completely different roles to me.

    Shield slugs are light armor and ranged, while plated warriors are heavy, have plate, and are melee. Shield Slugs deal more damage, while plated warriors are much more tanky. There's easily room for both a durable ranged relatively high damage unit and a pure tank in blue.

    While I agree with some of those points, for practical purposes they seem like they are used for very similar roles. Other primarily Blue players I have talked to have voiced similar feelings as well as an issue with being unable to find a place for Slugs in most armies.

    Ranged units that have tanky activated abilities are typically easier to micro in and out of fights, so even with light armour I've found Slugs to fulfill the role of tank respectably. But their damage has never felt high enough or their range long enough to be a strong tradeoff vs. the much tankier Plated Warriors.

    I could be wrong on this, and Slugs could end up being a strong part of a ranged DPS strategy for Blue. But so far their damage has felt too low and their cost too high for me to make this work or see it working for other players.

    Anyone else have experiences/thoughts related to this issue?

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    As someone who played almost all of my games with Shield Slugs, I agree with Millea's point that Plated Warriors and the Slugs do not take up the same role. Slugs are the best and in some ways the only ranged dps option, in terms of raw damage.

    Slugs seem good against tier 1 compositions that attempt to brawl in short range against you. Glacials in the same situations would lose many of those fights, either due to being more fragile or due to dragging the fight out too long. Plated Warriors are also good in brawls, so there is some overlap in this area, but the crucial difference is in how the fights play out. Plated Warriors will prolong the fight while Slugs will trade a lot faster, and in general, kiting backwards is a more viable option with a Slug\Glacial combo.

    In an honest fight, I find Slugs to be one of the best units in the game. Problem is, you should never even get an honest fight against slugs. Slugs compositions taxes scrap, they lack range, they lack utility. In a more practical sense, when the opposing team throws all their ultis and shit on you, Slugs don't really do much in return. On the other hand, in a favourable position, like a cut-off or a good flank, Slugs will decimate most armies much quicker than both Warriors and Glacials.

    I have found a lot of success with my composition. However, I did not try playing with a couple of Quadrapi, which conceivably would make the composition a lot stronger, and even negate their weakness against large aoe abilities and ultimates to a greater extent.

    I might differ in opinion because I had different expectations of the unit. I didn't add a few Slugs to my army to create some amazing utility. Slugs were my principal äuto-attack damage dealer. That's what they are, they deal 66% more dps than Glacials, while taking 20% more supply. So barring slows and range, they do deal a lot more damage. Upgrades are also key for making them work I feel.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 2

    I will try playing a bit more with Slugs but so far my impressions have been the opposite, due to the Slow/Range on Glacials giving me enormous advantages in most of the fights I get into. They let me constantly pick off units/heroes for no investment and are good even when I only want to make 1 or 2. The increased range and slow also translate into tons of additional DPS, and the fact that they aren't huge and fat means I can focus fire more on a single target. Plus I can have as many Glacials as I want because they cost no Bio.

    The fact that Slugs lack range/utility and cost Bio are precisely why I don't feel they really fill the niche of ranged DPS. As you say, you shouldn't be getting into an honest fight with Slugs. But you can often force an honest fight with Glacial Rangers due to the slow, and if the opponent refuses to take the honest fight you can just kill their hero or a handful of their dudes for free.

    Slugs remind me of unupgraded Roaches in SC2: reasonably tanky (but only against some things), reasonably high damage (assuming they can get in range of things) and reasonably easy to beat if the opponent brings the right tools to a fight. Having slightly higher numbers than other units doesn't feel super important when those other units are often better at doing the same types of things due to range or great utility abilities.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 2

    This is from another thread im about to post, but here's my biggest reason for considering Shield Slugs in a tough place:

    "Since BioShards are usually limited in lategame trades/wipes, it is much easier and cheaper to rebuild an army of 3-4 Plated Warriors and 10 Glacial Rangers than it is to make 4 Scuttleguards and 10 Shield Slugs, and a force of 10 Scuttleguards + 4 Shield Slugs isn't really ideal since that's often too many tanks and not enough damage. This, coupled with the amazing snare effect of Glacial Rangers, makes Ryme extremely compelling."

    It's possible I'm focusing too much on the supposed "tankiness" of Slugs and not enough on their utility and cost vs. other units. Maybe it's not so much that they take up the same role as it is they fight over a competitive deckbuilding slot and compete for resources.

    I'm going to force myself to use them for a while and see how my impressions change. Thanks for the gut check and good posts, guys.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    Well, I also always try to keep around 5 Glacials. I'm not arguing about a pure composition, just about the principal damage dealer unit.

    I agree with most of your analysis, but I disagree with your conclusion. The damage is there, you can still find success. You can also still make up for their weaknesses through teamwork or hero abilities.¨

    Sometimes it's ok that they are weak in some areas. That's to be expected. I am aware of those, but I think it is justified for their price. 20 dps for 5 supply is quite good. I think you are underestimating the damage.

  • tedstertedster Member

    I probably am. I'm really torn on what to cut for them, however. Do you not use plated warriors? They seem so crucial that I can't imagine cutting them

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    I tried incorporating them. Initial idea was 5 glaciers and 50/50 slugs and plated warriors but eventually phased them out. They didn't really fit the kind of situations that Slugs demanded to be efficient. Slugs want to either kite backwards, or chase an opponent that is committed to retreating, getting picks with frostbolts\slows. Dancing back and forth (also bad for plated warriors) and brawling against stronger opponents (very good for plated warriors) are two situations that Slugs do not really want to be engaged in.

    What I would do is to work towards around 5 glacials, 2-3 quadrapi and rest shield slugs. This way you can also brawl against quite strong opponents, which you were previously weak against because of aoe spells, as well as the good scenarios described above.

  • tedstertedster Member

    I'll try some different strats then that don't involved plated wars. right now it's hard for me to imagine my games as Blue going much better since the strat im running has yet to lose, but that could be small sample size or because people haven't yet figured out how to counter it.

    ...but that also doesn't mean it couldn't be improved by something as simple as replacing a narrow with a more versatile one, and if Slugs prove to be more versatile I'll definitely consider a major shift.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    It's important to remember that every strategy has the potential to function very differently depending on the five other decks chosen and the players that are playing them. I actually think the plated warrior+quadrapus build is probably the most durable and possibly the strongest blue build currently. People changed their playstyle quite a lot in the last few weeks. When I was working on the Slugs stuff I wanted to make a workable ranged Blue build that could fight against the Red and White stuff people were running around with, so Plated Warriors and easily sniped casters didn't feel viable for the criteria I set for myself.

  • tedstertedster Member

    Absolutely. I think though that the core of Blue's overall mid-lategame (Quadrapus pressure and forcing profitable engages while wearing away at teams) is likely to remain viable no matter what's in that role and still may prove to be the best way to play them, even if the army doesn't end up being ideal for it. That's why I could see a situation where it actually worked even better with Slugs than it currently does with Warriors - it feels so strong in the current meta that I could be doing it all wrong and possibly still be winning.

    Since the rest of the current Blue strat I'm running is mostly about setting that Quadrapus pressure in an advantageous way, if Slugs can accomplish that (regardless of how they do it) I think they'll function fine within the current shell even if I have to change some particulars. Maybe even better. Who knows! Hopefully I can find out.

    I could try to run a completely different overarching strategy while testing them but I'm not sure what that would look like if I'm still going to make Quadrapus and Healers. I could see pairing with a green player (or another Blue player) and backing them up instead while focusing on ranged DPS, so I'll give that a shot next time I end up on that sort of team and see how it goes.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 5

    Day 3, Build 224. Visual Effects Impacting Gameplay, Units: Aquadillos, Chillers

    Replay of the Day: G73e68f2dc30c45d88bb895e7b323f350 - Millea's crew up to new shenanigans, dropping mass siege at the 6:30 mark

    Took a little break for the holiday weekend, but back to the grind. I want to start with some visual effect comments that are currently having a big impact on gameplay based on a number of comments from other testers I've heard.

    Igniter Effects

    1. The "Fireball" effect is something I know the dev team is aware of, but it's very hard to see, especially on lower graphic settings. When my army suddenly falls over I feel very confused because I have a ton of trouble making this effect out, especially in my peripheral vision
    2. It seems like the goal is a "lightning storm" or spark-type effect: I hope this effect becomes more "active" and much more nasty-looking because while it looks cool but it doesn't seem to match the enormous urgency of getting the heck out of the AOE, especially the first few times you see it

    Quadrapus Visual Issue

    1. After the minor nerf to the Quadrapus, it feels good but also beatable. But it has a few graphics issues that make playing against it feel very frustrating
    2. It is very hard to see in a mix of Blue units

      • It is the same size as Blue T1 units
      • It has similar contrast/gradients as other Blue T1 units
      • It is often standing inside an Intervention, which is a similar contrast to Blue units (and Quadrapi) and often obscures them completely
    3. It is impossible to distinguish between allied and enemy Intervention

      • This makes it very hard to know where to stand in a fight with 2 Blue armies
      • This makes it even harder to find enemy Quadrapi which are important to snipe

    Suggested Graphical Changes to Quadrapus

    1. Make the Quadrapus model slightly larger
    2. Increase the color contrast of the Quadrapus so it stands out a bit from other Blue units
    3. Link the color of Intervention to the team so it's possible to distinguish between friendly/enemy fields
    4. Make intervention not be a similar color to the actual Blue units


    1. Aquadillos continue to feel low-impact and are very dependent on Quadrapus, but the opponent seems like they can mostly ignore them

      • If the opponent can debuff and gun them down, they die quickly for their cost
      • If the opponent mostly ignores them, they don't punish you the way most other 200+ BioShard units can
    2. As a result, I have not felt like games are significant impacted by the presence of Aquadillos, which feels bad for a flagship Tier-3 unit, especially since they are The Top End Tank for The Tanky Faction


    1. I have played more with Chillers and I feel like they offer a great topend solution for Blue for gunning down high-impact casters
    2. I like how tanky the Chillers are - they can sit inside nukes while gunning for casters, making them feel like a cost-efficient answer if you have other good range to back them up
    3. I feel like they might not do enough damage to justify adding to some factions, which feels a little bad since as a Neutral unit I'd want every faction to have good uses for them, but I'll need to test them more. They work well with Blue, though, and might be great with Red as well
  • TreiskTreisk Member, Administrator
    edited July 5

    Just wanted to poke my head in and say that the new formatting of these posts is fantastic. Thanks for that! <3

    Took a ton of notes from here, especially the unit sections. Appreciate the detail!

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 5

    Thanks, @Treisk =] I've been really focusing on Blue lately because I feel like I'm working on a particularly competitive and compelling strategy that may strongly inform the metagame for a bit but I'm going to shift gears very soon to focus on other factions with the same intensity. I'll try to get to (more or less) everything eventually, I promise!

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 6

    Day 4, Build 224. Issues with Big Melee and the Stealth/Detection Disparity

    Small update this morning since I'm working on a guide and I want to devote most of my free time to that today. There are two ideas I've been bouncing around in my head for a week, however, that I want to talk a little bit about first.

    Underwhelming Big Melee and the Shard Cost Disparity

    1. Big Melee for the most part feels very underwhelming to me. Units like Aquadillos and Rustborne Rhinos feel very unimpactful and do not seem to change the nature of a fight but represent huge BioShard sinks that could have been powerful Tier 3 Casters

      • Big Melee are very expensive and take a long time to come online
      • Big Melee do not seem to kill things particularly fast, especially for their cost
      • Big Melee tank reasonably well, but tanking in the lategame is often more a function of good defensive buffs (Intervention, Plated Shell), using heroes to absorb damage, or just avoiding damage altogether since many things hit extremely hard and spells are very powerful
      • Soaking damage seems to be of limited use in many fights where AOEs are the main thing killing your other guys. An army that is wiped out except for 2 Batterhorns isn't much better off than if everything had died
    2. Big Melee seem designed to counter lots of Tier 1 by soaking lots of Attack-Move damage and disrupting lines. But offensive casters already can counter Tier 1 rather well by eliminating them quickly (rather than merely delaying them) and have little trouble disrupting lines

      • Casters are also very good at killing other expensive units, something Big Melee have trouble doing
      • It is very difficult to afford Big Melee while also buying powerful casters due to the costs
    3. Debuffs/nukes feel easy to land on Big Melee since they are big, fairly predictable, and there are only a few of them on the map at once

      • As a result of this and the ease of massing Tier 1 DPS they tend to die quicker than you might expect
    4. Heroes do a lot of the same tanky things Big Melee do but are free

      • Heroes do a lot of the same tanky things Big Melee do but are free (!)
    5. The Abominable Sludge feels like an example of Big Melee that works, at least somewhat, though they feel a little slow and supply-intensive at the moment for the low-ish damage it does. However, unlike the other Big Melee, a Sludge completely changes the nature of the battle and requires the opponent to respect its presence, something even 2-3 Aquadillos doesn't feel like it does

      • The Sludge feels like it works because even one of them requires the opponent to change their battle plan
    6. The Bramblethorn Goliath is another compelling Big Melee, though it feels a little overcosted to me at the moment. But it comes online early enough and has a strong enough ability that it feels impactful more often than other Big Melee

      • Early on many armies rely on autoattack damage and the Goliath can punish Attack-move for stretches before big nukes come online
    7. Big Melee feels good when 1 guy can dramatically change the nature of a fight, much like Hoss Spellcasters do

      • Having lots of HP doesn't feel like enough to justify hundreds of shards and a deck slot, especially in the late game

    The Deckbuilding Cost of Big Melee

    1. In a sense, Big Melee seem to have a higher deckbuilding cost than most other units because they come online so late (usually Tier 3), and unlike most casters or DPS units, Big Melee seem have a set of assumptions they want to operate under:

      • You have other units to deal most of the damage
      • You have enough good units that tanking for them is a worthwhile endeavor
      • Tanking for your other units is efficient enough that it outweighs value of simply having more damage and spellcasters
      • Having a Big Tank is more valuable than adding some sort of utility or buffs to your existing army
    2. Every Tier 3 unit you take in your deck limits your early and mid game options
    3. There are usually only a few slots available in your deck for Tier 3 units due to the need for an early and mid game
    4. You can usually only afford to pay for a handful of Tier 3 units anyway, making the slots even more difficult to lock in
    5. Some of the strongest Tier 3 units are great in a variety of situations because they slot into any army (Apocalytes, Igniters, Windrays, Sludges, Pyrosaurs) and can work when you are ahead or behind, or in both large and small armies

      • Tanks, on the other hand, have multiple situational assumptions as described above, making them feel a lot harder to justify taking if they don't do something splashy
      • Some games, you just don't want Big Tanks. You probably always want Apocalytes or Igniters

    Stealth vs. Detection: A minigame that feels incomplete

    1. There are very few stealthy units in the game

      • Most Heroes do not have stealth options outside of Sentinels and Traps
    2. Detection is universally accessible but rarely required
    3. The only unit that feels like it demands detection is the Shadow, but if you don't have detection for the Shadow it can blow your army to pieces
    4. Hedging your bets toward detection seems risky considering the high costs unless your team makes Sentinels because there are so few things that use stealth

      • But that means you are more likely to get destroyed by Shadows when they do show up
      • So if you suspect Shadows, you probably HAVE to get detection, otherwise you can probably ignore it
    5. Having more stealth in the game would make this feel like more of a decision than a 1:1 correspondence
  • For the reasons stated in the STEALTH VS DETECTION section of the post directly above this one, I feel that added depth can be introduced by creating a 100 Scrap upgrade that grants Hero Wards invisibility. That way, 100 Scrap can purchased invisible Wards OR detecting Wards, but 200 Scrap will grant both. I feel that this provides more counterplay through warding than the interaction we currently have for Sentinels.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 7

    @ItanoCircus I really like this suggestion or something like it. There's just very limited counterplay going on with regards to detection/stealth and I feel this could be a cool part of the game. It could also provide some incidental interaction with a cool unit that currently feels pretty uninteractive (Shadows) in many circumstances rather than just pure 1:1 hard-counters-or-no-counters.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 8

    Day 5: Build 225. LOLTitans, Chillers, Red's strength, Bonus Content

    Haven't had too many games in the past few days and the current patch feels a bit broken, but I still have a few things to mention.

    Titans may be a little overtuned? Tough to say.

    This is me joking. Titans are currently insane murderergods due to this patch and will almost certainly be nerfed in the next day or two. This warps the game as winning Titans is now way more important than anything else and games are almost never going to last past the midgame, since the 4th Titan from any fountain can destroy a base in moments.

    Chillers are the real deal but highlight some Faction problems at Tier 3

    1. Chillers are excellent ranged units that are great for picking off heroes and Tier 3 casters
    2. Chillers are also great for Titan defense
    3. Chillers feel very well-costed, unlike most Tier-3 Tank units which tend to be extremely expensive
    4. Chillers give Blue and Green a legitimate thing to do at Tier 3 that isn't "Tank pretty good"

      • "Tank pretty good" did not feel very good in the first place
      • Chillers tank pretty good on their own and are legitimately good against Tier 3 casters, which is something that gives regular tanks a lot of problems
      • Outside of Abominable Sludges, Tier 3 tanking now feels like a mistake in deckbuilding because you could just be running Chillers
    5. Chillers feel like they are encouraging homogeneity between factions and discouraging use of "Flagship units" that the tanky factions might otherwise consider

      • This doesn't feel like a fault of the Chiller, but rather the baseline that Chillers now represent for Tier 3 since they can go in any army

    Chillers feel like a great "baseline" unit. They do a lot at Tier 3 for a reasonable cost. They have a specific purpose but also have clear counters. Chillers are a wonderful "balanced" unit to look at when considering "If I put this in my deck, will it do as much or more than a Chiller would?" Currently most "Big Melee" doesn't feel like it passes this test to me.

    Red is Really, Really Strong

    Most players seem to agree that Red, and especially Vex, is well at the top of any Tier List. Red has a ton going for it:

    1. Great heroes and basic units

      • Vex has some of the best poke in the game and can do tons of damage at long range with his Tier 1
      • At high levels Vex 1-shots most Tier 1 in an AOE. He's one of the few heroes that gets noticeably more dangerous with levels
      • Eris's Sandstingers can easily counter early tech rushes and are amazing at picking off casters
    2. Amazing units at every tier that do massive damage

      • Red's only "dud" unit right now is the Scarab, which is interesting but like most expensive melee feels undertuned for how quickly it dies
      • Apocalytes and Igniters are among the best casters in the game and it gets both
      • If Pyrosaurs were Blue or Green I think they'd be that faction's best/most important unit. Red rarely even bothers with them
      • Devilkin Dervishes would probably feel too good at Tier 3. At Tier 2 and costing almost nothing they feel completely absurd
    3. Since a Red army with Dervishes can't be caught, it can play hit-and-run incredibly well in the midgame without losing units and teching freely to Tier 3

      • Red has arguably the best Tier 3 in the game but can't really be punished for rushing it
    4. Even when it loses a battle Red tends to devastate the enemy army

      • Red's massive AOE damage lets it essentially self-destruct and cause massive damage even in death
      • Devilkin movespeed forces enemies to totally surround Red if they want to wipe the army
      • This makes sticking huge AOEs feel way too easy
    5. Red Creeps/supports teammates faster than other factions

      • Dervishes let Red be everywhere, and Red kills creeps faster than other factions
      • As a result, Red feels strong at every facet/stage of the game
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 8

    Bonus: How to Fix Red? and Hero Levels

    1. Much of Red's dominance feels like it stems from its ability to abuse Dervishes and mass Tier-1 to pick off enemy BioShard-costing advanced units while safely teching to Tier 3

      • Red can repeatedly lose scores of Tier 1, but as long as they keep teching and keep their Dervishes alive they seem to come out ahead
      • There's no clear defense against this due to Vex's great pokes or the power/ease of Sandstinger dash snipes
      • While doing this, Red is also Creeping and supporting teammates at a faster rate than other armies due to Dervish Movespeed
    2. There seems to be no long-term penalty to Red losing scores of Tier 1

      • If it costs 8 Sandstingers to kill 1 Quadrapus the red player will take that trade over and over
    3. This is very frustrating to play against because counterplay is not obvious

      • The Red harass seems so simple that it feels like there should be a clear answer to pursue rather than "fight at a slight loss till the lategame"

    What if Hero levels mattered?

    1. The player defending against hit-and-run snipes often gains an XP advantage
    2. This advantage currently feels like it has little-to-no impact on most battles
    3. If killing scores of Tier 1 gave you an advantage, hit-and-runs on valuable units would feel a lot less one-sided
    4. Having hero levels contribute more toward battle outcomes would allow XP values of Tier 1 units to be used as balancing agents


    1. Red leads almost every game in kills by a wide margin

      • So "Hero XP Matters" could make the problem worse
    2. Red still has many of the best units in the game

      • Red could possibly just change strategies and do as well or better
    3. Faction balance may improve as other Factions have their units improved to the level of Red's

      • So maybe those factions should be looked at rather than Red
    4. Red has so many good units that do fairly similar things that some get overlooked

      • Even if some are nerfed, the others might step in to take their places
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 11

    A Follow-up to Red stuff

    Before I start, I want to say that any metagame- or balance-related posts I make are based on the current, MMR-based matchmaking system. It's impossible to tell how this would play out at higher skill levels or with arranged teams. That said...

    Red feels more and more dominant to me as time passes

    1. It feels like the team that has the best Red player tends to win, and often dominate
    2. Red does the majority of damage in almost every game. The charts are usually led by 2-3 Red players. It's often not close
    3. Double Red teams are becoming increasingly common and feel incredibly hard to beat

      • It feels almost impossible to lane vs. Double Red due to Dervishes and huge damage at T1 making Red flank attacks too fast and powerful to survive/react to
      • As a result, Double Red and Red in general feel like they overly punish uncoordinated team
      • These teams can take objectives quickly all over the map while forcing the other team to move in a clump of 3
    4. Red armies can dominate the damage charts making only Tier 1 and Dervs

      • Even if the Red army is destroyed over and over, they tend to outdamage everyone else, often by a very large margin
      • Red's armies feel extremely strong very early in the game
      • Dervishes seem like the biggest culprit here

    I spend most of every game thinking about how to survive Red and trying to come up with ways to trap/trick them into making huge mistakes. At best I feel like this helps me achieve parity, but it doesn't happen very often any more.

    Red feels like it can just keep poking at a flank forever until it happens to have picked a good time and there's almost nothing I can think of to do about it. This feels bad because it's not an isolated incident - Every team seems to have 1-2 Red players.

    Red feels like it is limiting the ability to test units and strats in Atlas

    This is the only reason this is really bothering me. Red feels like it places big restrictions on what works and what doesn't work. Things like Sludges can never catch a Red army. Singleton, expensive units can be picked off by Red very easily. Long-range, zone-control units get sniped easily by Red nukes or simple dives that happen so fast they often involve very little loss.

    Most strats are simply not as viable right now as "just going Red" and doing basic Red stuff. And a large % of them feel badly punished by "just go Red", since Basic Red is strong, fast, relatively easy to play, and punishes mistakes very severely (since you can't run away from Red).

    And since so many people are playing Red right now, it feels incredibly hard to tell if various strats/units are good or bad, working or not working, interesting or synergistic or anything. Having to evaluate heroes under the "is this guy good on a Double Red" team feels bad and feels like it limits the ability to explore the game in a systematic way, but that's the meta considering that is being made quite often.

  • tedstertedster Member

    Day 6: Decision-Making vs. Feeling Forced

    Several testers have spoken up about feeling like the game seems to follow a very set pattern without a whole lot of decision-points in a given match, and how that makes them feel. I've spent some time reviewing the points that have been made and my own experiences, and I've come to feel a similar way. Even though I really enjoy the fights in Atlas a great deal, the actual decision-making that goes into the game doesn't feel as satisfying in a number of areas that other MOBAs do well.

    It's not hard to figure out what you SHOULD be doing in Atlas

    This is the easiest way I can explain it. It seems like a good thing at first! It makes it much, much easier for teams to coordinate even with limited play experience. It certainly makes it much easier to write a guide!

    The problem, I feel, is that every game I play looks more or less like this:

    1. Kill 1 creep camp (maybe deal with minor harass)
    2. Go to lane and get gems while warding bushes
    3. Micro battle

      • Go help teammate for 30 secs - 1 minute if they are losing
      • Get teammate to help for 30 secs - 1 minute if I am losing
    4. Go help teammate after Titan finishes
    5. Repeat until Titans are done. Go get camps.
    6. Get ready to contest 1st Titan re-spawn as a team
    7. Get medium camps when they spawn starting with contested camps

    These things don't really change from game to game, and there are very few "wrenches" thrown into the gears. While many MOBAs have similar patterns, they also tend to have a number of "risky decision points" that happen constantly throughout a match that I feel Atlas still somewhat lacks.

    Below I'll list some decision points I make in a MOBA, with the indented bullet points being what I feel happens in Atlas that often feel like they lead to true decisions:

    1. Do I focus on early ganking or early laning?

      • Vision is very good at the start and ganking is hard outside of temporary support
      • Getting a level advantage does not really help in Atlas
    2. Which lanes do we stack/do we have a dedicated jungler who only occasionally shows up to support a lane?

      • Not enough players to have a jungler/stack a lane for long
      • Not enough camps to have a jungler
      • As a result player locations often feel fixed
    3. If I can't outmicro my opponent, can I still mostly keep up in XP/Gold by killing creeps, or call in a jungle gank?

      • In Atlas, if I can't outmicro my opponent I can call in help, but it comes at a high price
      • I'm probably just very behind if I can't outmicro my opponent early
      • One side losing its entire army is fairly common early
    4. Once I've killed a Tower (similar in other MOBAs to taking a Titan), do I keep pushing the lane for xp? Do I roving gank? Do I swap to another lane?

      • In Atlas, it's occasionally correct to support a Titan, but only when it's safe
      • Otherwise you almost always go support another lane
      • If important camps are up, you generally take those as soon as you aren't immediately needed to take a Titan
    5. When a Tower goes down in most MOBAs, it changes the complexion of the lane and the risks/rewards from being in it, encouraging weighted decisions. It also makes stealing opponent jungle easier for the rest of the game.

      • When I take a Titan in Atlas (especially early) it makes the opponent deal with that Titan
      • If the Titan is strong, it also tends to make the opponent deal with subsequent Titans because they cannot leave their base
      • There's often very little decision-making in answering a Titan - you must send the correct amount of troops to kill it, you don't need to send any more
      • Once Titans are gone the map is back to neutral barring vision wards
    6. When my team feels like it has (or needs to steal) momentum, it can try for dangerous Neutral camps (Baron, Dragon, etc)

      • In Atlas, the closest equivalent is rushing the Nexus in an attempt to instantly win (or lose) the game
      • This is usually fairly cut-and-dried rather than a true decision: if opponent is visible in X location and my team is at Y location in Z amount, I am guaranteed to snipe the Nexus before they can react)

    Implications and how this makes me feel

    The biggest implication I see is that if players don't feel like they're making true decisions but are simply following paint-by-numbers map objectives, the game could suffer in a few ways:

    1. Games could feel boring due to lack of decision-making
    2. Games could feel frustrating due to inability to defeat better opponents
    3. Games could feel arbitrary due to equally-skilled teams winning or losing based on early micro battles or lucky flanks/spellcasts/ultimates rather than good decision-making
    4. Finally, games could feel boring to watch because both teams are doing approximately the same thing at all times

    All of these issues seem like they could be problematic if players aren't feeling challenged to make interesting, risky decisions early and often. They also seems like problems that could be overcome, but I do feel like it might require attention to the pacing and objectives currently present in the game.

    I really enjoy fighting people and playing around with unit compositions in Atlas. But I also have to agree with what some of the criticism brought up by other testers: I'd like to experience these fights and unit compositions in more varied, less cut-and-dried situations. I'd like more opportunities to choose wrong, and choose right.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member
    edited July 14

    Been thinking for this for a while and I was finally able to figure out what it is that brings about this situation in Atlas. At the heart of the issue is the proportion that gameplay is driven by the opposing players compared to the game itself.

    In games like SC2 and Mobas, a majority of the game revolves around being better at the game itself than being better at the interactions between players. For example, in SC2, I can win against an opponent if I have more stuff, even if I am worse at micro’ing. In Mobas like League and Dota, I can win against an opponent if I am better at last hitting, even if I’m not better at fighting with my hero. In other words, being good at non-conflictive parts of the game is rewarding in those games. In Atlas, there is very little skill involved in playing the game itself. Jungle camps are quite simple, collecting gems is automatic, so there are almost no vs. game skill involved. And I think the game is intentionally designed that way.

    Contrasting SC2 and Mobas, the proportion that the game is driven by opposing players is a lot greater in Atlas. Everything revolves around improving your power relative to your opponent, and you usually do this through beating your opponent’s army or indirectly punishing his moves, by making better moves. Everything hinges on how the actions of the two teams plays out. Of course, at the end of the day there is a victor and a loser. In Mobas and SC2 you can often rationalise the loss through being worse at the game, and identify key weaknesses. My last hitting was worse, or my macro was worse. In Atlas, it’s very difficult to pinpoint these vs. game skill errors. This is because in Atlas, your loss is a result of your decision-making, your unit-control skill and judgement being worse than the opposing player. This stings, and I think many players will rationalise it by thinking that they were forced into a certain course of action. That it’s the game’s fault for not giving them more avenues for comeback.

    I think I understand better now, why a newer player might get frustrated and not find the game fun. Atlas really excels when the matches are even. On the other hand, when mismatches occur, the game can become very futile. For every move you make, it seems like the opponent makes a better one. Being a 3v3 game, the potential synergies are huge, and some are easier to execute than others. As a team falls behind, mounting a comeback requires increasingly better coordination than the opposing team.

    To sum up my views. I think the Atlas’ lack of “game obstacles” makes it so that the gameplay seems ‘forced’. This is usually argued from a perspective that to a large extent analyses the game independently of player conflict. Player conflict makes up for the majority of the game by design, and your decisions revolve around exploiting your opponent’s actions. I think this works as designed, however, as with most competitive games, mismatches in skill create matches that are not fun. This effect might be exasperated by the large proportion of player conflict driving the game, however, I doubt it as I can also imagine how Moba matches can be incredibly one-sided if there are mismatches in skill. This happens regularly in ranked matches even with the benefit of having a huge playerbase.

    EDIT: Just to add a more concrete example of decision making. If you remember the game with Me, Tedster, Treisk vs. Millea, Pursuit and Requiem. Every decision we chose to do, we did as a result of reflecting on the positioning of the opponents and what their actions were, and deciding on a course of action. I think it is very easy to say "Well, they did X so we were forced to do Y, hence there is no decision", but I think that hinges on assumption that we already perfectly considered all the options in that situation, which I don't think holds for all situations.

  • tedstertedster Member

    @TokOwa that is an excellent observation and I definitely agree with pretty much all the points you make. Coming from the fighting game community you see a whole lot mismatches leading to unsatisfactory matches, which is definitely a major factor that can scare off some new players when people are constantly bumping up against dudes who are outside their skill level.

    I think you're right about how this relates to decision-making - up to a point. I agree that responding to opponent actions is not completely cut-and-dry, even if many of the in-game triggers are.

    However, I do feel like there still are a limited number of "risky actions" that someone can take within the context of the game in an attempt to bridge that skill gap or even a momentum gap within the game itself. It's possible to do with unit gambits, but doesn't feel like you can do it by interacting with the AI/game world, like you mention, and even in fighting games (where there is no outside input) this isn't so much the case.

    Even though I might be totally outmatched in a fighting game, I can still mash out a random uppercut, try a risky jump-in, or (god forbid) fish for a lucky super in a high-risk, high-reward gambit. This isn't quite playing off the map, but it has similar implications since it's typically something my opponent cannot react to but must anticipate. Most competitive games from various genres have "high-risk" gambits like this which create variance from game-to-game and (while not upsetting the balance of the game or the typical outcome) let the weaker player have occasion victories, or partial victories, when a gambit is correctly pursued enough times.

    Going back to the game you talked about between us and millea/pursuit/requiem's team: we absolutely were making constant judgment calls based on their actions and the state of the game. But we also had enormous amounts of information due to vision and momentum to make those judgment calls, and most of them were about eliminating any potential for risk and forcing the other team to keep making the same, futile choices due to necessity. That's fine and we played it right and absolutely should happen some times, but it's not like they had the ability to try anything particular to get out of the hole we'd put them in either.

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