Here's the worst replay ever: G4b80e410ed6a48d9aff57179db5a896d
Thanks to @Treisk for forcing this topic on me
I think Kingpins are broken. Not in a "numbers-are-off" way, but a "how-does-this-fit-into-the-vision-for-Atlas" way. Playing with Kingpins feels a lot to me like playing that game where you spread your hand out on a table face-down, take a knife, and start stabbing the spaces in-between your fingers. If you mess up even a little, you're in for a world of hurt, and if you do it well, it's admittedly kind of neat but you couldn't for the life of you explain to your mother why you chose to do it in the first place.
WARNING: This is all just my opinion, and it's a pretty strong thing to claim, so I'm going to break them 'pins down as granularly as I can. I'm framing these claims matter-of-factly because this post is already huge but please keep in mind they're just my own experiences. I am often very wrong in my observations, so please disagree and let me know why!
Let's start with a talk about Reavers, the 500-lb scarab in the room. Reavers are a specialty unit in Brood War. They have very specific, challenging, and powerful uses. These typically fall into 3 categories:
Of these, it's important to note that the first two scenarios don't exist in Atlas. I'll focus on that a bit more in a second, but not having the option to instantly slaughter a dozen+ workers or hide inside a screen full of cannons is huge. Let's peek first at the 3rd point: supporting lines of 'Goon, since this seems closest to what you see in Atlas.
Reavers work because the impact they have is so dramatic. In addition, there are situations in SC where sniping Reavers is hard and requires splitting up armies while defending multiple points. Dragoon battles featuring Reavers often have characteristic features:
So why don't we see a similar dynamic in Atlas?
These are all major problems for the Kingpin. But what makes it worse is that these problems ALSO make it hard to use Shuttles!
In the time it takes a Kingpin to attack once, I can often move my Raptors/Spitfires/Glacial Rangers/Sandstingers forward and kill the Kingpin. Him getting in a Shuttle doesn't really change that. I have to decide whether to shoot at the Shuttle or the Kingpin (maybe) but often i have time to shoot both due to the huge range and damage on my dudes. Sniping Shuttles feels very, very easy in this game, which just compounds the problem that they don't seem to have much use anyway.
A quick caveat: Kingpins + Shuttles can do things. I don't think they're optimal. I don't think they're even actually good. But if your control is great and your team is attentive and your opponents don't have much in the way of ranged troops (a LOT of ifs, especially the last one) they can be effective sometimes. They can also just lead to you throwing a match because they all die and you didn't really make a mistake. Anyway!
On the "risky actions" I think the lack of those high risk-high reward situations is also deliberate. Assuming that both sides have symmetrical opportunities, imagine that the worse team has a "risky action" with a certain chance of succeeding. Obviously it follows that the stronger team also has these "risky actions" but because they are skill-dependent and player conflict driven, the stronger team also has a higher probability of succeeding those actions. Hence, risky actions would at the same time as creating additional comeback mechanic, also creates additional avenues that could snowball the game even harder, and the better team is more likely to take advantage of those opportunities. Sean in his AMA said that the game is specifically designed so that if you lose fights, you are supposed to be able to iterate to a certain extent on your army, and try to fight again. I think the lack of these high volatility moves is part of this design. That being said, there are things in the game that can potentially turn the tide of the game in a flash, like a good vex ult, or a good pyrosaur hits.
For your last paragraph, I strongly disagree with your conclusion as it leaves out the crucial element of the game, namely the different strategies in the form of the armies created. This is also what irks me about the "risky actions" discussion. By claiming that there are no risky actions, without considering armies and strategy (how you order your macro), you are indirectly asking for there to be more ways to comeback independent of your armies. The way I understand the game, your capabilities and set of viable actions comes as a function of your army, your opponents' armies and your respective army handling skill. Hence, when one strategy is better than another, it is natural that the set of viable decisions for the worse strategy shrinks and for the better team grows. The same goes for the other variables, when there is a discrepancy in skill, the set of good decisions changes in favour of the better team, when the better team gets further ahead economically, the same.
So when analysing the game we had, I don't think that the game played out solely as a result of what happened throughout the game. The strategies employed by the players directly impact on their capabilities, both individually and as a team. As I perceived that their overall strategy was worse than ours, it was quite apparent to me that we were in a favorable situation from the start, even independently of skill levels (even if there probably was a skill mismatch too). So when your strategy doesn't really bring the correct tools to the table, it's your responsibility to improve your strategy, not the game's to provide you with solutions independently of your strategy. If you decided to not bring certain cards that were necessary to deal with such a situation, then you were basically performing a cheese. Contrary to your conclusion, I absolutely do think that there were ways for them to 'dig their way out of the hole'. But they really had to play well along the skill dimensions and the strategic dimensions, which on the strategic part I don't think they did. They actually had some good actions that reduced our lead in the latter stages of the game, but by then we had already enough buffer to adjust and come back to deal with what they had.
There aren't any mechanics that wipes the lead away though, there's nothing that really 'resets' to 0, but I think this is deliberate, referring back to the argument made in my first paragraph. Atlas is a game that requires a string of good decisions to actually edge out the game, or at least making a higher proportion of right decisions compared to the opposing team. Personally, if I played a game and did really well, and the opponent did one move that invalidated most of my lead or wiped out all my lead, that would feel horrible. It's kinda gimmicky and I think it's a better game as a result. If it is an even game and someone beats me through several engagements, it's much easier to come to terms with it being a fair loss than if I am winning and suddenly someone takes a huge dump on everything over the course of a second, which would suck.
Gonna go back to my roots and look at some specific units. Nothing super in-depth, just some dudes I've been thinking a lot about lately.
Shadows are cool. Shadows are specialists. Shadows feel either dominant or dead-weight, depending on the state of the game, and often within the same game. Shadows can be countered by pushing "Tab" during the game, seeing my deck list, and deciding to buy Ward upgrades.
Shadows feel VERY restrictive.
Blue is a tricky faction because it is much more synergistic than the other factions. Blue's units work well in concert but are very exploitable alone. Every slot is precious, and even with 5 slots Blue was forced to cut important units.
With only 4 slots, I have to decide if I want to gamble on an uninteractive win or if I want to build a complete army. And if my opponent just checks my deck choice and gets wards, I'm out of luck anyway most likely.
This is a tough one for me. I'm fine with counters, and I'm fine with hero counters to a degree, but currently hero choices are quite limited in Atlas which makes them stronger than usual. It's also more punishing to be forced to lane-swap or double up a lane than in many MOBAs due to there being only 3 heroes per team.
Seedbots would already be very good against melee without such a big slow. With the slow, they don't just beat melee early - they feel like they completely crush it. It's very easy to wipe a melee army to the man in a 1v1 if they don't beat a full retreat the instant you start planting saplings.
I don't know if this is a problem or just a thing to note. It feels very hopeless as a melee hero seeing Alder in my lane, and feels pretty invincible being Alder vs. a melee hero. I think I'd personally support a reduction in the slow component, maybe to 80% instead of 60%, to see if that makes skirmishes a little less disastrous for the melee player without hurting them much vs. other ranged.
One thing to talk about today, and it's a big one.
Clearly Vex should be the best at something - but right now he feels like the best at everything. So what might be the "big problems" with Vex and what could maybe be done to fix them?
It's possible that if other heroes felt "on Vex's level" it might all balance out - if everyone could 1shot basic troops or armies it might not matter - though this would change the flavor of the game and push the balance toward hero micro with units being supporters, not armies onto themselves. I'm not sure, but it feels like bringing Vex down several notches to be in reason compared to other heroes might work better for the purposes of the current builds.
Hmm, I don't really agree with your assessment of vex's strength. I think Vex is good for sure, but not by that
wide of a margin. I honestly have not played as vex recently but from playing against vex I have not noticed
him feeling stronger than other heroes. Too me spitfires feel a bit weak actually, they have low dps for their
supply and I think Eris and Alder can both bully them early. Especially as Eris I feel like I can win a 1v1 against
vex because I have superior dps with my sandstingers and Eris's basic ability is better than fireball at poking
because it doesn't miss as easily.
I Don't play blue or Grath much, so I can't really speak on them.
I think Celeste is one hero which suffers really hard vs Vex, but in my opinion Celeste is currently the weakest hero, maybe along with Hydros. I think Vela can handle Vex perfectly fine, in fact in some ways I think Vela is very good against vex because deadeyes are perhaps the best unit in the game for dealing with lava spitters.
In my opinion Vela has on of the stronger 1v1 early lane as she has such a strong range control.
Vela can easily dance with vex and his spitfires early as they are a bit slow so they have a hard time getting close enough to Vela, thus Vela can poke away safely and also snipe gems for days, I think Vela has a much harder time vs a mobile hero like Eris or celeste who can catch raptors and erase them.
I think Lava spitters are really strong before I knew how good they were I lost some annoying games as they erased my army, however, I actually like their power atm. Perhaps they will need to be tuned down, I think their mobility vs the insane damage may be a problem, but I like how they are such a defining unit in an engagement. when facing spitters you have to actually think about how to take an engagement, even if you are 2v1 often you should not try to jump on spitters. I like how spiteres instead force you to play a positioning game, taking fights when the spitters are out of position, sniping them while they are unburrowed etc. In addition there are some pretty solid counters to Spitters, they die easily to deadeyes, many aoe spells wreck them.
One last thing, I agree with the assessment of Vexes Ult., It is probably one of the best Ultes in the game right now and while I don't mind asymmetry among hero abilities I do think that perhaps the amount of damage combined with how fast it casts is too good; especially combined with his very solid basic ability.
As a bit of context, my last six wins all included a Vex on the enemy team while only two of those games I had a vex as an ally. Vex is certainly one of the most popular heroes right now though.
I don't think vex is overly strong.
I like how strong Spitters are, probably will have to be tuned down though.
Vex's Ult may be too good.
I'm inclined to agree more with Slammer. Vex has an edge with versatility, but that is about it. He benefited from Red being strong overall, and the nerf to devilkin dervish and the buff to Non T1 HP has put him further back in line. He's still good, but not gamebreakingly so.
I respectfully disagree. I think it's hard to understand how strong he is because on average both teams have a Vex on them. That helps mask his dominance I think but it does not feel like the sign of a healthy hero.
Vex can kill multiple T1 units at once with his basic ability starting at low levels. No other hero can do anything like this.
Vex's ult can kill entire armies without support. No other hero's ult can consistently do anything like this.
Vex is supremely versatile despite being a great hit-and-run hero.
Vex is nearly impossible to catch due to huge range and ability to get speed buffs at T2 if needed.
Vex can always just dive in and blow his ult at point-blank range to at least trade evenly. I think people really underestimate this last point and how ridiculous it makes him when he's already #1.
Reposting from Tokowa's thread since I was originally writing this piece for here:
I find all 3 methods of capturing Titans interesting mechanically and from a gameplay standpoint. I've had fun fighting over Titans regardless of how they spawn. There are pros and cons to each method (some more than others, I think)
I personally think the Titan mechanics are a bigger issue than the capture method. For example, if a single Titan wasn't enough to start the inevitable Titan-Defense-Chain where you never leave your base despite the enemy being nowhere near it, killing a tanky, stally army only to have them get the Titan might not be an actual issue.
I think if Titans functioned differently it would help smooth over some of the issues with capture mechanics, which I think all have potential to work
First off, let me talk quickly about how these games tend to go, then I'll discuss the mode:
These are just some thoughts I have on Titan mechanics vs. Capture Zone mechanics. Hope they are interesting to consider!
Short little addendum but important enough to me to separate off from the main post!