Thoughts on units #'s vs neutral upgrades

This thread is more of an outloud pondering to see if I'm thinking about this correctly in terms of gameplay approach. I kind of want to put into a (relatively) public place to see if I'm making any logical fallacies in my approach.

Back in the era before the "march of the tier 1's", I would rush T2/T3 on Hydros. In going for fast Quads or Aquas, upgrades became important midway through the game. Attack speed, in particular, allowed for faster reapplication of Vindication for Aquas or healing from Quad's Combat Paragon. The utility I provided my allies ramped up along with these increases.

Now, fast forward to the current state of the game. T1 is central to the game, with many players just continuing to swarm T1 units for most of the game. Because of that (and due in large part to the pathing changes made over the past month+), I too have gone with heavy T1 in my Hydros play in order to again play a support role in trying to either surround units or intercept the enemy from my ally.

But how to do best do that? More units, or armor upgrades? If what we discussed here is accurate, 1 point of physical resist (let's just call it armor) equals 1% effective health. That means the upgrade on armor, which yields 11 points, gives me 11% more HP for 100 gold.

Thus, when I'm playing Hydros it doesn't seem to make sense to get this upgrade until I get my Scuttlebros into double-digits in terms of the effective HP I'm introducing to the battlefield. Even then, it still doesn't seem to make sense considering that this doesn't reduce magical damage. Furthermore, by upgrading Scuttles vs getting more of them, it makes it harder for me to either Retracting Roll and surround a larger area (and fewer applications of Chilling Claw when I don't get a complete surround), or make an effective wall for my allies

Now, you'll notice my subject specifically cites neutral upgrades. I still feel like squad-specific upgrades have their place, and ironically enough these upgrades further mitigate any use from neutral upgrades. Plated Shell is a huge upgrade in my opinion - if you look at the charts that @Aethallyn put together here, you'll notice that all but three squads take 21 or fewer hits to kill a Scuttlebro. Adding 8 hits taken is pretty significant, as most engagements in my experience will have all my Scuttles taking damage and thus using up all stacks of Plate before they expire (5 seconds IIRC?).

This upgrade makes me want to pump more Scuttles vs getting any armor upgrades because (a) their armor is moot for the 8 hits they're taking under the effect of Plated, and (b) each 100 gold I spend on another Scuttle gets to apply his own stack of Plated, adding more effective survivability to the field than 11% physical EHP would do. I realize that higher tiered neutral upgrades are more cost-efficient but those seem to be late-game options regardless. I've been toying with the idea of pumping armor vs getting Quads against Poison but that's just one very specific situation.

In short, if I were to summarize my babbling into a question for the purposes of discussion, it would be:

For the squads you normally play, when do you commit to neutral upgrades vs more units? Furthermore, how has your approach in that regard changed since the "march of the T1" change?

Disclaimer: I'm not voicing an opinion of dislike for the T1 unit cap increase, I think it adds a more options early on in the game.


  • BurdockBurdock Member

    To further add to this point. I think the static nature of gold income, and the limited spending options (8 at most at the moment) means there will likely be an "optimal" gold spending path for every squad.

  • CycleCycle Member, Moderator

    As an Alder player, I find certain upgrades to be absolutely vital to the utility of some skills, and end up getting them as soon as I can. eg: Replenishing Roots after my first Grove Tender. Similarly, I jump tiers before maxing on T1s because the usefulness of Alder's Grove Tenders and Bramblethorn Goliaths often outweighs having more T1 dps (although you totally need enough saplings)

    Also like the Sapling Grow Range upgrade Lengthy Sowing is just vastly better than a single Seedbot once the midgame starts. So in Alder's case, I feel like the cost of certain upgrades becomes more worth T1 units, and he ends up not suffering from the March of the T1 phenomenon you've described.

    However I totally notice other squads favoring more units, and wonder if it's because the practicality of actually getting the upgrades is outperformed by just having a massive army.

  • SpideyCUSpideyCU Member

    So, hilariously I started this thread back in Atlas 1.0 when weapon/armor upgrades were still a thing. There are no more neutral upgrades, though there is indeed some disparity in squad-specific upgrades. Given how much there is to consider on the merc side, I honestly haven't been thinking too much about this, which per what both of you alluded, seems that I'm fairly static on my decision for whether or not to get certain upgrades each game.

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