Playtest 181 - March of the T1s and Other Balance Changes!

starfighterstarfighter Member, Administrator

March of the T1s, and Other Balance Changes!

Tonight, the unit cap for all Tier 1 units across the board has been drastically increased (by ~67% for all squads).

Squad Changes


  • Tier 1 units for all squads now have a unit cap roughly 67% higher than previously.


  • The Bramblethorn Goliath no longer has unitwalking.

The Hive

  • Hornets (T1) are now using Vex's previous model.

    • Which also means they should hopefully now show up on Windows and Linux! Hooray!


  • Stride should no longer be broken by attacking, only by being attacked.
  • Removed the excess tooltip icons for Stride. Stride's tooltip is now rolled into Fair Warning.

    • This also corrects a bug that prevented Vela's ultimate from properly displaying


  • The Sparkbot has received a new model and animations!

    • This change was in on Wednesday but was not documented.


  • Units exiting a Warp Pad should no longer be stuck at the destination
  • Reduced the size and appropriated the selection size of the Conduit (T3).
  • Chain Lightning should now properly continue chaining even if the unit it chains from is killed by the attack.


  • How did pathing feel? Did formations feel more meaningful?
  • How did the squad changes feel?
  • How does Vela's new passive feel to play with and against?
  • How does playing with and against the Bramblethorn Goliath feel without unitwalking?
  • Tell us lots about your squad battling experience!

    • Early, Mid, Late?
  • Any other comments or questions?


  • SnowSnow Member

    Hey! Loving the balance changes, thoughts on the increased T1s :

    • REALLY like this change, however, on champions like Eris, it can become chaotic. Maybe toned down a little is the answer but the symptom comes from massive amounts of units on a super cluttered battle field. I found this really diminishing my ability to micro.

    • Alder change feels nice. Not much more to say.

    • Vex change is awesome.

    I've been maining a lot of Eris and playing some Alder. Early game these two races feel good. I'm personally not a fan of Alders mid game. It feels like he really slows down as his tier two unit is so vital to his comp that you almost need to slow down production of T1s to save up for it...which during the mid game puts you behind. I'm hesitant to comment on comp play yet (Eris and Alder, Vex and Wind, etc...) because i feel like this has a lot more emergent patterns that has yet to happen before I can really gauge this.

    An interaction I really like is the Gem bases. They feel like an intentional decision - go for this for the potential advantage or disadvantage.

  • RCM94RCM94 Member

    @Snow said:
    Hey! Loving the balance changes, thoughts on the increased T1s :

    • REALLY like this change, however, on champions like Eris, it can become chaotic. Maybe toned down a little is the answer but the symptom comes from massive amounts of units on a super cluttered battle field. I found this really diminishing my ability to micro.

    I actually did not like the changes to the amount of tier one units. Before the changes I felt there was a good balance of how many of each tier that I bought but now it just feels that bar some important spells on T2 units just spamming tier one units is the best way to go!

    How did pathing feel? Did formations feel more meaningful?

    I like the pathing feel and how it is a meaningful game play mechanic. However, since now there are so many tier one units I am finding it particularly hard to get past my allies armies if I am playing a front line squad and we are out of position strictly because there are just so many units on the field.

    The Bramblethorn Goliath no longer has unitwalking.

    I didn't mess around with alder too much today, but I more or less agree with what Cycle was saying in discord, that is, it just feels too hard to maneuver it around the army now since it is so big.

    How does Vela's new passive feel to play with and against?

    I liked playing with Vela's passive. My main complaint with vela is that its matchups are just so polarizing. She has such a hard time with squads that have a ton of cheap tier 1 units but does pretty well against those with few expensive T1 units. I had fun with it in a Vela+Alder vs Ryme+Grath top because i got to pick off units and it felt meaningful. however, playing vs Eris or Wind just doesn't feel like you can do anything.

    Any other comments or questions?

    Playing against Ryme in the late game is pretty interesting because he forces you to micro units out of the frostfalls.

  • CycleCycle Member, Moderator
    edited January 18

    hooooo mannnnn it's been a while. I've been super pumped to play Atlas - it's been about 3 weeks since my last PvP game so the rust definitely showed. I lost every lane I played, and only won a game 'cause my teammates were badass. One Hive game, and I think 4ish as Alder.

    Also, since I haven't played for the last several playtests, I wanna give my opinion on a few of those changes as well.

    edit: after writing everything I just condensed it into the tldr at the bottom lelelelele

    A. Playtest 178 Feedback

    1. T1 Refactoring

    Squad refactoring seems to mostly be labeling? Seedbots and Saplings feel appropriately as effective as they used to be, give or take minor advantages. I could not find a way to gain an advantage (or even break even) against Eris in the 2-3 games I played the matchup.

    2. Sapling Range and Seedbot Health

    Sapling range completely changes the playstyle. Saplings are no longer used to zone out units, and instead are DPS buffs to the army. I feel almost like with their reduced range, they're not much more than a buff to Seedbot auto attacks, since it's significantly easier to walk away from the shots. I think in every game I played, my opponent was very easily able to disengage, and making Saplings felt much less cool than it used to - felt like I was helpless in engagements and that making Saplings was purely to do more damage, not to zone, slow, or dictate engagements.

    On Seedbot health, I think the 50-point reduction is fine, 'cause Seedbots used to be literally invincible. I'm reserving more opinions on this because there are a bunch of other changes to Atlas that have happened that made playing Alder today not feel great, and I don't think the health nerf is one of them.

    3. Eris' Ultimate Speed Rework

    I think this is way cooler and way more awesome.

    B. Playtest 179 Feedback

    1. Time Change


    2. New Squads

    woooooo I will give input on this based on the next section since I've only played them/against them after the balance update.

    C. Playtest 180 Feedback

    1. Hive Squad

    Wow Hive is so cool. I love the concept. Hero basic is super sick. T1s ability seems super cool. I played a single PvP game and the Eggs feel underwhelming. Only a couple times did I get good Egg hits, and it felt overall like it wasn't helping much, and playing any other Squad would have been more effective. Over 90% of my Eggs were killed by my opponents before detonating. Felt super glass cannon.

    The T2 Cleave felt underwhelming too, its one-use-per-ability-click feeling like it needed to be a duration, not "next attack". The T3 I did not make in the PvP game but felt kinda useless even against bots.

    I did not play vs the Hive.

    2. Wind Squad

    I did not play as Wind, but played against it a ton.

    The T1s are plentiful but super fragile. Very satisfying to kill them. Opponents would phase out my units, and use the opportunity to surround. Super cool.

    I did not notice the T2, and the T3's range and chain damage seemed super super strong. While I have some frustrations in my memory when playing against Wind Squad, I'm pretty sure they're related to Alder's weakness, not Wind's strength.

    D. Playtest 181 (aka this playtest) Feedback

    1. T1 Unit Cap Increase

    The idea is really cool. A lot of people mentioned liking the change. It felt super super awkward for me, and I'm not sure why I had this feeling. There are a lot of things that I think contributed to the awkwardness of the playtest regarding the Unit Cap Increase:
    - rusty
    - the rate at which other squads get T1s is much much higher than Alder (due to unit cost), meaning Alder doesn't see the benefit of the new cap as early as other Squads. In Eris v Alder, normally I would lose during the early game, and stabilize as they hit their T1 unit cap and couldn't as efficiently add on DPS. Now the unit cap is much higher, and engagements remain difficult for a much longer period of time.
    - Seed Squad's main strength is the power of Tree of Life and Deeproot Terror. With more units and more DPS on the battlefield, these Trees (as well as the vital Hero unit and T2s) are relatively weaker than they were, and can more reliably be 1-shot or 2-shot.

    My overall feeling in every engagement was that I was at a disadvantage. It felt more correct to not engage and poke anywhere else where my opponent wasn't. Thinking over it again, I'm not sure there were many moments at all where I actually wanted to fight, especially pre-ultimate.

    2. Bramblethorn Unitwalking Removal

    I found it much more difficult to eat trees and engage with the Goliaths. This could just require more control, but they felt super ineffective. But since this is a mechanical issue I might have to just learn to play and manhandle them into the right position.

    3. Sparkbot Art Change

    My initial reaction was disappointment because I loved the old model so much. I will play a game as Vex one of these days and note my feelings on the art as I play more games against as well and see if they grow on me. I personally tend to not like humanoids in games in general though.

    edit: ohhhhh the art is super cool, but the model I'm not a fan of D:

    4. Pathing

    Pathing, other than the Goliath, was unnoticeable so I think it's working as intended :D

    E. Conclusion (aka tldr)

    The forum's formatting isn't as diverse as Reddit's because I can't make that cool line break thing, so I ended up doing everything outline-style I hope it's organized clearly enough.

    Overall I'd say today was one of my least fun playtests of all time, due to a ton of different factors. My general feeling in engagements was helplessness unless I could sneak in a Deeproot Terror without my opponents noticing, and it only barely offset the feeling of weakness. My gut said to just switch squads to something else so I could engage better (and engagements will probably always be the soul of the game).

    Just for some extra info, I tried several different builds as Alder. I tried the T1s 4 dayz, a handful of T1s into Tree of Life (my old standard play), a Tree of Life rush, and a Goliath rush.
    - I felt like Saplings couldn't zone like they used to and instead were just damage boosts.
    - I felt like Seedbots died a lot more than they used to (unsure of my opinion of this change).
    - I felt like the Grove Tender was immediately killed in all situations, and when not, the Tree of Life was immediately killed with little benefit. I started to feel discouraged to even make them at all.
    - I felt like the Goliath was very hard to engage with properly due to the unitwalking change. I'm not sure if this is because I need to control him better or what.
    - I felt like due to the above weaknesses, it was much more difficult to hit level 6 and unlock my ult, which is a key moment in Alder's combat strength, and felt like my opponent could snowball against me.

    While I started to want to play another Squad, I was determined to try different things and improve my play with Alder to really feel out all of the changes. I think with another 4 or so games I could try a couple more builds to get better perspective, but in general I think this is the weakest that Alder has ever been, which I guess he had coming since for literally every other playtest I've said "Seed Squad Best Squad" :D:D:D

  • Pathing

    (1.1) - I didn't notice much to add about pathing tonight. I was curious whether units have mass (momentum), in particular with regard to allied pathing. I don't know which I'd prefer, that my large units displace my allies or not. Move in formation is still nice, still would be interested to see formation management tools, but current is fine, as it leverages micro.

    Squad Changes


    (2.1) - I didn't look too extensively (might be in the emails or on the forums), but it would be nice if we had access to a cheat sheet on the damage types for units, not as something that would necessarily normally be there, but as a way to keep track of what to expect in a matchup, without having to track the design changes.

    (2.2) - T1 qty increases are interesting, but with most games tonight, as with most recent playtests, I never tended to reach, or if reached, feel like I was impacted by reaching the T1 max unit count. Result of tending to play more tech focused?

    Vela Passive

    (3.1) - I didn't really notice much playing against Vela with the passive, but I wouldn't expect to (not at the point where paying attention to where the opponent should be would reveal a discrepancy). Didn't play as today.

    Alder: Bramblethorn

    (4.1) - I did like that I could reliably target the Goliath when it was trapped, but it does feel outside of the unit design. Didn't play as today.

    Squad Battling

    (5.1) - Mirror Hydros top was an interesting matchup today, and one that you couldn't really play blindly, which is pretty cool. It feels like it has great potential to shape the engagements top lane, and is tricky to setup so that you can maximize the synergy with your teammate. It's a long enough slugfest that maybe the frontline-counterfront options are more pronounced.

    (5.2) - I found Ryme tougher to have an impact tonight, in part due to playstyle. Frostbolt used to be a very effective tool for getting away or walling in opponents, and it feels much less effective now, maybe in part due to the pathing improvements? Tonight was the first time I really noticed that it was less effective. Can we get an add to the ability that it spreads to units in contact for a minimum time, after a short delay? :)

    (5.3) - I still often find myself getting thrown by Stinging Surge cancelling movement for the Sandstinger.

  • PursuitPursuit Member
    edited January 18


    • How did pathing feel? Did formations feel more meaningful?

    It felt a lot easier to move past enemy units? This might be my imagination but I felt like it was harder to pathing block this playtest. It felt pretty good using the increased amount of tier 1 though which I was initially a little scared about, so that's good.

    • How did the squad changes feel?

    • How does Vela's new passive feel to play with and against?

    I never played against or with Vela in this patch.

    • How does playing with and against the Bramblethorn Goliath feel without unitwalking?

    Never played as Bramblethorn Goliath, but it felt much less scary to play against than usual.

    • Tell us lots about your squad battling experience!

    Vex felt super powerful with the mass Tier 1 + His ult, you ended up with a bunch of 9.5 range super high DPS monsters. Playing as Vex it felt very powerful, playing against Vex as Ryme it felt nearly impossible to engage. Both times I felt like Vex was too strong.

    Frostfall felt too weak to me, even with the 25% increased radius. I remember one game in particular where I cast three frostfalls spread out to hit all of Vex's Sparkbots and the Sparkbots just sat under the Frostfall for the entire duration and didn't die. This was with +10% ability power as well.

    Ryme felt significantly weaker than before in this playtest, which is probably a good thing since before he felt too strong. I'd have to play him a lot more to tell if Ryme is really weaker like he felt though.

    Eris felt significantly stronger than before (perhaps because the new pathing?). It felt like the Sandstingers could very easily dart in and pick off heros.

    Hive felt pretty weak overall. The mine is too easy to dodge, especially in early game when you dont have many hornets and the cooldown is really long.

    • Early, Mid, Late?

    Early game felt more the same, Mid game felt like you stayed on tier one for much longer, Late game felt like AoE was much more important. Hitting or missing a big AoE spell felt much more important and game deciding with the new mass Tier 1.

    • Any other comments or questions?

    I feel like today was the first day where I looked at all the heroes on the hero selection and found myself thinking "Huh, there's not actually anything I really want to try out." I feel like I'm starting to mine out the complexity of the game.

    I wish the unit that collects gems wasn't also the unit that spends gems, because I really enjoy using the Neutral Weapons for multipronged aggression but the problem I often run into is that I have to pick between collecting gems and spending gems, and in almost all scenarios it's better to collect gems until you have a bunch then use them all at once in a final death push than it is to not be collecting gems to throw down a weapon or two.

  • bycebyce Member

    Hey! My game today was my first as a daily tester, so I haven't played since the big 1K test thing. Unfortunately, I was only able to play one game, and I didn't play as one of the new squads as I was a little nervous from being pretty rusty, so no feedback on those yet!

    I played as Hydros vs Eris, bottom lane. Harass was annoying to deal with early on, of course, but I felt like as soon as I got about 6+ scuttleguards I was able to just start bullying my way into sandstingers and towers. Needless to say, once I got near the new T1 cap, there wasn't much that I was scared to push into! :) Maybe the current cap is a little too high, especially for how big scuttleguards are (then again, the regular PvP map is pretty cramped in general on the lower portion). However...

    I really, really enjoyed having way more units than before. It felt a lot more possible to do something really cool with my army, like hold off enemy units with part of my army while the rest took out a building and whatnot. It was more like I had an actual RTS army, where, with proper micro, I could surround not just one small group of units, but multiple (or a building too). Before, with the smaller army, it actually felt more deathball-y to me: move together, and just attack-move into stuff. You couldn't really split your army up (well, I think I saw some of the really good players do it, but it didn't feel right to me :D).

    I liked some of the abilities being moved from default to purchasable upgrades. I think having all that stuff to choose from makes the game a lot more fun.

    That's pretty much it. See you next time!

  • Thanks! A fun test and keep up the good work.

    The pathing felt MUCH better than 1K test - overall, unit formation was kept well when moving, though it could be interrupted by the terrain. I really liked the effect - unit positioning and engagement shape felt meaningful, and I would like to see continued emphasis on this effect. I think it could be better if the map was just a little bit more open...

    I did notice that I could push units through standing units - my own or my allies - and the effect was somewhat water-like - the group of standing units would part and the moving units would cut through. Sometimes the re-positioning seemed effective, sometimes not. Two groups of moving units would 'F-up each-others movement.

    I did notice units would sometimes "wander around" when there was no route, but at least they tried to go in the right direction. I did feel some frustration when there appeared to be a hole to maneuver units through, but I guess it was just 1 pixel too small and they got (momentarily) stuck 3-stooges style. With the relative large size of the units to the terrain microing correctly seemed challenging (are the T1 units smaller than before?)

    I liked the overall impact of Stride, this made Vela more difficult to use - frequently 1 or 2 units would get left behind as they were attacked and moving slower than the rest - but not unfairly so. I feel like this led to some more interesting choices, and attempts at "hit-and-run" tactics that were more risky, but with the tier 3 were esp were more rewarding.

    More Tier 1s
    Really made the battlefield come alive, though got a little overwhelming with some of the more swarmy squads. Would suggest something in-between the previous amount and the current test. I like how it made when to take higher tiers and when to get upgrades more of a decision, and mid game was more interesting. Before I

    Early game and esp. late game are still less exciting than the mid - moving in the right direction though.

  • LefLef Member

    The tier one change was excellent. Having more army made the game feel much more like an rts. Upgrades were far more worthwhile that the had ever felt before.

    The new model for the Sparkbot was excellent. Vex also felt great in the one game I played since Sparkbots are excellent in large numbers and upgrade really well. It felt like I was doing a really high amount of damage whenever I got into a fight.

    Hive continues to be awesome, thought I will echo the sentiment that they are a little weak on stats. Their cool moments come almost entirely from laying mines and not actually fighting the opponent. When against a B squad is feels great but is otherwise a bit hard to use correctly.

  • How did pathing feel? Did formations feel more meaningful?

    I didn't notice anything particularly stand-out with regards to pathing this time, apart from getting stuck more due to the additional T1s that I wasn't used to accounting for.

    How did the squad changes feel?

    I actually managed to avoid playing as or directly against most of the changed squads. The Hive T1s actually having a model now is a nice improvement though! Though planting their mines without a targeting circle/line felt worse than it did before, when I could be aware of which Hornet would be casting before actually clicking a location.

    How does Vela's new passive feel to play with and against?

    I saw exactly zero Velas in my games for this test, so sadly I can't speak to this.

    How does playing with and against the Bramblethorn Goliath feel without unitwalking?

    Likewise with Goliaths! Guess I didn't wind up having Cycle in my games.

    General Gameplay Stuff

    Played as Hydros, Hive, and Eris (ofc) for this test.

    I'd never played Hydros before, so I built a bunch of T1s and rushed Aquadillos like all the cool kids do. That seemed to be pretty effective. Eventually I got the plate upgrades for both of those units, and I think I built a T2 somewhere, but overall Hydros just feels SUPER good with the cannonball to engage and a billion crab people to beat up stragglers. Didn't feel like I output a huge amount of damage or anything, but oh boy does Hydros feel like you're invincible.

    Played against a Hydros. Turns out with that many crabs in the mid-game he can just kind of pile on you under your tower and just out-tank Sandstingers that are healing. Lost everything and didn't feel like there was much recourse at that point other than just being anywhere Hydros isn't.

    Played Hive solo bot against something aggressive, an Eris or a Vex or something. Did absolutely nothing except throw down the odd annoying mine that would get triggered and evaded. Kind of feels like Hive gets WAY too few mines early on, and then with the upgrades, WAY too many. Early on I was waiting for every single cooldown to be able to just do something, while later I had more mines than I knew what to do with (both due to upgrades and due to the higher T1 cap). Beetlepocalypse dealt terrible terrible damage with my first cast (the first time both myself and the opponent I used it on had seen it), but later on it felt less impactful.

    Hive just feels like it needs more love. The concept of sneakily planting mines and blowing people up with your superior map control and stuff sounds super cool. That's not where Hive is yet imo.

    Eris early feels super strong, and the extra T1s compound that. I still went for my T2 faiiirly early, but got more T1s first because of the burst. The higher cap on T1s meant that to deal full damage, they often had to close in tighter because they were easily over-filling the max-range concaves available in the gaps, which is probably okay, as it plays directly into positioning being the absolute most important thing to consider while playing Eris.

    Mid and Lategame Eris still feels strong, but not as overbearing as she does early. With both sources of major AoE damage having large delays, her combat capability vs other squishy squads is literally hit-or-miss, while tanky squads become very difficult to deal with, and long-range attacks that can take out multiple sandstingers freely hurt her a lot.

    In all honesty, playing as Eris early on feels great, but she may very well be too strong.

    Any other comments or questions?

    I may just be still learning things, but for a lot of squads, I feel little to no reason to ever split my units up (beyond perhaps sending my hero on a special task). For Eris, her units are just so squishy and feel like they rely on the extra burst and armor shred Eris herself provides to be able to win a fight. For Hive, you could possibly get creative and send Hornets out all over the map, but there's not a lot of movement through neutral areas of the map until those mines would be easily taken care of. Also wards being so strong really ruins a lot of the hiding spot potential. I'd imagine tankier squads with CC could split up feasibly in order to contribute to combat well because those units don't just fall over to a strong glare.

    Apologies for rambling on a bit! All in all, it was a great test. And after all that, I'm still not entirely sure where I stand on my feelings about the increased T1 count.

  • bycebyce Member

    @byce said:
    but I felt like as soon as I got about 6+ scuttleguards I was able to just start bullying my way into sandstingers and towers. Needless to say, once I got near the new T1 cap, there wasn't much that I was scared to push into!

    @MeltCat said:
    Played against a Hydros. Turns out with that many crabs in the mid-game he can just kind of pile on you under your tower and just out-tank Sandstingers that are healing. Lost everything and didn't feel like there was much recourse at that point other than just being anywhere Hydros isn't.

    Hey look, consistency in our testing! Sorry, that was me. :D

    Starting out, you were harassing the crap out of me and I thought, "oh great, my first game back and I'm going to get stomped by an Atlas all-star!" Then I hit a critical mass of scuttleguards and was like, "now I don't need to be good! Charge!"

  • Unfortunately this week I only had enough time for two full PvP games, so I wussed out and stuck with my old favorite from the 1k test (Hydros). Hoping to have more time for tinkering during the week and such, but in the meantime:


    • How did pathing feel? Did formations feel more meaningful?

    I still had some minorly questionable pathing results with my own units, but they were far and few between and the previous frustrations of moving against my allies was virtually nixed. When I was top lane with an ally and we were dancing back and forth to try and get an advantageous engagement, I never felt like our positions relative to each other were causing huge issues. A welcome change!

    • How did the squad changes feel?

    OK, specifically re: T1 units. I had a fancy idea in my head: "Well if my allies have these huge numbers of T1 units, I'll rush straight to Quadrapii and we'll try to outsustain the other side!". I was figuring that I had trouble getting all my Scuttleguards to engage the enemy previously, and now with more of them, I'd just be in a giant cluster of uselessness.

    The problem ended up being that I still had the mindset of the art map in my head (from the 1k test) and wasn't properly prepared for the regular map, where it's the 2-and-1 split. As a result, my Quads didn't have as much of a "wall" to hide behind and could get sniped rather easily.

    So I ended up getting some Scuttles and, like everyone else here, I felt somewhat more useful. I didn't have nearly the level of frustration I did with Scuttles previously and I think it's a combination of two factors. First, the pathing changes made it more manageable. Secondly, the increased number of enemy units made it such that I had a larger surface area on which to engage, so the thoughts I had two paragraphs above didn't come to fruition.

    Hope to play more this Sunday to offer more feedback!

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