What role does Stock play now that Unit Queue has been reduced?

tedstertedster Member
edited June 25 in Feedback

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Stock does not currently feel to me like it serves a particularly large function now that the Unit Queue size has been reduced to start the game.

Before, Stock already felt like it was in a weird place - you mostly ignored it unless something went really wrong, in which case running out of stock forced you to stop all your other production to "catch back up", making it extremely difficult to win the game. It was kind of a gut-check that made it difficult to vomit out hordes of T1 units as a stalling tactic but otherwise just contributed to a snowball effect if you ran out.

With the reduced queue size (especially with regards to cheap T1 units) Stock feels even more ignorable than it ever was before. It seems to live in the same niche where you maybe click it once per game unless you are falling far behind, but due to the natural checks imposed by the queue timer it doesn't even really seem to be the limiting factor preventing someone from spewing out loads of cheap units.

It's not that stock doesn't matter - it clearly does at specific points in the game, insomuch as you have to occasionally pay attention to it and click a button in lieu of another button to get a bit more. But as a primary resource type it's significantly less important than the others, and feels redundant with a number of other factors that already limit army production:

  1. If my strat is to spew out loads of T1 units that are rapidly dying, it's already clogging up my queue and also feeding XP to my opponent without stock making things even harder
  2. If I've fallen behind and had an expensive army wiped, I'm not able to rebuild "good" units anyway, since I have no scrap. Needing stock just makes it take slightly longer to get back the scrap I'd need to compete
  3. If I'm trying to rapidly recover bulk from a loss, the queue limits me more than stock. I can research upgrades to reduce this effect but even in the very lategame it's still pronounced and the opponent can get a large lead in the time it takes me to rebuild
  4. If I'm an inexperienced player and ignore my stock by ignoring creep camps, I can get screwed at a crucial time by being unable to make an army when I need it. This is unlikely to happen to a more experienced player, however, so it's mostly just punishing to newbies
  5. If I'm ahead, even just slightly ahead, stock has no bearing on my game at all (this in particular seems really weird for a primary resource)

Again, it's not that stock isn't doing things. It absolutely factors into every game - but in a very minor way that doesn't feel differentiated from the other systems that are already in place, at least with the current pacing. It seems to be used more as a "glue currency", or as a safeguard to keep the lategame from being a big slog between expendable armies, and maybe it does such a good job at this that it's invaluable in its current form. But I also wonder if in each of the bullet points above, you could stress the underlying system SLIGHTLY more to achieve almost the same effect.

For example, maybe if hero levels were slightly more valuable, throwing away armies would naturally be a losing strategy even without stock limitations. Or maybe if central creep camps spawned slightly faster in the lategame, the limitations provided by the queue timer would be enough to punish someone for losing an army due to naturally lagging behind in the resource fight.

I'm not sure what the end-goal is with stock, but above all I would like to feel like it mattered in every game, even the ones where I am winning.


  • tedstertedster Member
    edited June 25

    The other thing I wanted to note is there doesn't really feel like there's any "stock management" system. I don't find myself making any decisions with regards to stock: I need it to make guys and if I don't have it (and need to make guys) I punch the button and get it. I also get stock from doing Regular Stuff. That's literally it, there's no decision making there, nor in how I spend it, because Not Spending Stock isn't an option.

    Contrast to Supply and Scrap, where I'm constantly making interesting decisions about what to get, when, and how to use it, and having to weigh the pros and cons of those decisions down the road. When I suddenly get 100 scrap or see my supply cap jump enough to build that cool new T3 unit, it feels good and rewarding. When I get 40 more stock I don't even notice because it wasn't the result of any decision i made and doesn't impact my future decision-making either, it's just a checkbox I'm very occasionally required to mark.

  • tedstertedster Member

    Thinking about it, stock at least serves as a cautionary function preventing someone from throwing T1 units at towers over and over again, though I'm not sure that would be a serious issue even without stock.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    How about thinking about it more like investing in insurance. The value of Stock only rises when you lose units or are at a greater risk of losing units. Banking Scrap is also insurance in the same sense that your new army can be recovered with additional strength, but different in the sense that you can use it to build a more Scrap-dense army. But let's focus on Stock.

    In addition to the straight forward idea of needing Stock to replenish your army, it also faces conflict with Scrap exactly because of the 2. point you mention. I think the fact that you only have one slot in your Core, makes the economy different from a game like SC2. You have to decide how to spend that slot according to the 'positions' that you are able to secure and the 'risks' that you take upon yourself, because these two elements can substitute the need for certain Core productions.

    I don't really agree with your second post though. I agree that it seems not very intuitive the value of Stock, as well as there's no exciting or shock value to good management of Stock. But I think you go too far to discredit its role, when it has similar elements to Scrap for example. I think when tech'ing and expanding your late-game capabilities becomes a greater necessity, it will create a natural conflict between boosting your early game presence through Scrap and Stock, and boosting your late-game capabilities through Manufacturing, Supply and Scrap. In other words, I don't think it is as simple as just pushing a button and getting more Stock, when you are constrained between several objectives within the game, that might require the Core to produce other things.

    The various constraining aspects that I am describing here might not seem apparent at the moment, but when the skill levels go up, the margins of error decrease and the general speed of the game increases, I think the constraints will become much more apparent, which in turn will highlight the significance of Stock.

    It has been my goal to provide a perspective of how Stock management might become important, but I recognise the possibility that a clear and no-brainer hierarchy of when and which Core production to choose, might arise.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited June 26

    But banking resources is almost never the right thing to do in RTS games where momentum is an issue, that's kind of how I'm arriving at this point. The goal of good RTS resource management is keeping all your resources as close to 0 as you can at all times despite producing as many of them as you can. Good SC players don't save up thousands of resources in case their deathball gets wiped: they spend every last dime on expansions and guys until they hit 200/200 because it's objectively the strongest thing they can do.

    Planning for recovery rather than having the most powerful army I can have RIGHT NOW is virtually never the right play option in a competitive sense and is even more damaging a strategy in a team game where your teammates can get steamrolled while you rebuild - so even though you might regain most of your personal lost strength, you've fallen much further behind as a team than you would have if you'd simply brought a better, more developed army to the fight. And the best way currently in Atlas to have the best army is to acquire and spend as much Supply and Scrap as possible.

    Incidental banking of Stock due to collecting it from a camp is fine. A fully-maxed army that starts banking Scrap (and has nothing immediate to upgrade) is also fine. But at any level of play, you really should be trying to spend all your resources all the time because they don't do anything at all when they are sitting at the top of the screen.

    There is, of course, a very small amount of pressure to have some backup stock in case of lost units, but even clearing a small camp on the way to an objective typically proves sufficient to cover this so it's not too much of a decision to make when you have the opportunity.

    I definitely understand where you're approaching stock from, I just personally haven't experienced the conflict in the way you're describing. Clearing camps gives me the stock I need, and when I have to punch the stock button it's a hard pill to swallow, but my decisions with regards to stock feel completely predetermined to me.

  • PursuitPursuit Member
    edited June 26

    TBH Stock feels like it makes a losing team lose even harder. Lose an army? Your opponent gets experience and map control which will translate either into titans or camps and with stock in the game they'll also get ahead in max army pop or queue slots from the generator while you have to remake stock to remake tier 1 units.

    But personally I dont mind where it is atm.

    edit: To elaborate on this, I feel like it might actually be a good thing because without it games would drag on for much much longer IMO.

  • MilleaMillea Member

    But banking resources is almost never the right thing to do in RTS games where momentum is an issue, that's kind of how I'm arriving at this point.

    Atlas is substantially different from other RTS games in the resource system because of the fact that increasing your supply is something done gradually rather than immediately.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited June 26

    @Millea said:
    Atlas is substantially different from other RTS games in the resource system because of the fact that increasing your supply is something done gradually rather than immediately.

    Yes but that doesn't change the implication that having more, better units early to help win fights is typically better than having replacements for stuff that dies. Having 2 guys on the field is a lot better than having 1 guy on the field and 1 guy on the bench. And in most cases, having 11 guys on the field, or 10 guys with an upgrade on the field, is better than having 10 guys on the field without an upgrade and 4 weak guys on the bench.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member
    edited June 27

    In a game like SC2 I would 100% agree with your all the time, about the no-banking and bigger army is better. But I think Atlas is different because of a few reasons. First of all, I would contend that Scrap-density is not linearly correlated with army efficiency. Whether it is a full tier 1 army or a army with a bunch of spellcasters might be equally efficient in a push on a naked tower, but the second army carries a much higher risk if the opponent invests in a surround that decimates the army either way. In a much more severe way, armies seem to be more situational than in SC2.

    Secondly, because of the 3v3 and moba nature of the game, we shouldn't rule out trading and pressure as a strategy. This does exist in SC2 but is much more distinct in Moba's. A 5-man gank might net a kill, but if you lose two towers while doing it, then it might be a net victory for the team that gets ganked.

    Thirdly, SC2's constant stream of both gas and minerals from the economy serves as a running pool of replenishment. Atlas' economy doesn't work that way, but I do acknowledge that map objectives do provide a stream of income, which is why I wrote that Core usage would be dictated by positioning as well (securing camps etc.).

    To respond to the banking stuff. I didn't mean to propagate banking as a viable strategy to pursue. I was just saying that having a bank does have value. It might not be the highest value, but it has value nevertheless. It might be that it only manifests when shit hits the fan. Even if it is only noticeable in 2-5% of the time you play, it's still a factor that carries some significance.

    I forgot to make the point that, by themselves, I think every resource could be criticised, but when you combine the several options in the core and are constrained by which one to boost, it becomes more interesting. I understand your view but I think it relies on some assumptions on how the game should ideally be played. If you are right on those assumptions, then I guess your viewpoint becomes absolutely correct, but if we imagine different ways of playing, different composition dynamics, various map movements that create more complex situations, then it might go either way I think.

    EDIT: As I play more, I do get a bit closer to your perspective (stock doesn't feel significant in many situations), but I also can recall moments where I needed additional stock, but I didn't really want to use my Generator to produce it. These moments do exemplify constraint. Effects of Stock management seem much smaller or less noticeable than what I have alluded to in my posts, but that doesn't mean that it is not significant. I agree with Pursuit's post that it magnifies leads, which is good, as it is another way of saying that it rewards good plays and decision making.

  • wondiblewondible Member

    I've long felt that stock wasn't adding enough to justify dealing with an extra resource. Generator wise it's equivalent to scrap, since when you lose units (stock) you have to build less scrap. The one thing it's adding right now is that you can spend your scrap to zero on some big purchase and still build units.

    I think the argument against making T1 free (by removing stock) is that people could suicide them over and over. There are other ways to penalize that:

    1. Increase base unit build time so T1 clogs up the pipeline more.
    2. Reduce supply when a unit dies, and have it recover at a constant rate, so rapid deaths will have a similar army reduction effect. Earlier versions had a mechanic similar to this and was kind of confusing.
    3. Permanently reduce supply a little bit when a unit dies. Rapid deaths will drive it down, and there is already a generator to gain supply, so the gameplay tradeoffs are similar to what we have now - a losing player will be forced to build supply instead of stock to maintain an army, thus forgoing scrap.

    I'd also kind of like to try it where generators only made scrap, and build-queue/supply functioned as upgrades.

  • wondiblewondible Member

    Another crazy idea to be thrown away: the build time tradeoffs of techs are significant enough that I wonder if we could dump resources entirely and make build time/slot the main cost. Camps and such that grant resources could instead grant supply, temporary bonus slots, or reductions on current build items (which allows some timing micro to maximize benefits)

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