Faction by Faction Analysis: The Good, the Bad, and the Run-on Posting

tedstertedster Member
edited August 29 in Feedback


This thread is based on older versions of the game! There have been several major balance patches since I wrote these things so please understand this is mostly concerned with legacy content and a lot of my points no longer apply!

End disclaimer

This post has been building for a while now. I wanted to separate my thoughts on factions from outside noise, so I'm going to try to organize it all here under a few clear headers. I feel like most of the factions/units have crystallized enough for us to have a good idea of how units can/should be used, at least in the current game mode and metagame.


I like Red. Red is at once both simple and versatile. It's easy to explain to new players. It's easy to pick up and play. Eris and Vex feel like very different heroes despite both being range-y damage dealers. I like that a lot.

I think Red is a fairly complete faction. It has few weaknesses (outside of one big one) and many clear strengths. There are only a few units that feel like they aren't yet pulling their weight, and no units that feel outright over-powered in the current meta.

The biggest concern for Red is how much better they get when the map objectives encourage skirmishes rather that huge entrenched 3v3 battles. Red felt like the best faction back when that was the norm, and if the game goes back to that style of play they may again feel somewhat too good.

What Works for Red

  1. Red is a balanced faction that can both solo and support well

    • Is good in 1v1s but also can DPS behind teammates well
  2. Does not feel like it hard-counters other builds any more - more fun to play against
  3. Has powerful Tier 3 Casters that can answer some common problems

    • Apocs are one of the few things that can fight White's tier 3 (under the right circumstances)
  4. Has powerful and interesting Tier 2 between Lancers and Dervishes

    • Caveat: Siege feels very poor in the current meta
    • Caveat: Lancers felt possibly overtuned before Conduits pushed siege to the sidelines
  5. Can hit-and-run effectively, controlling large portions of the map

    • Caveat: Not very useful in the current meta where roaming the map is rare
  6. Units feel flavorful and work well together - good synergy and feel good to micro
  7. Sandstingers vs. Spitfires represents an interesting choice in playstyle
  8. Simple and clear gameplan
  9. Feels good early, middle, and late game: Lots going on at all Tiers and stages of the game
  10. Interesting choices in the midgame: Do I spend money on Red's strong Tier 2, or cut corners for their great casters at Tier 3?
  11. Many of Red's interesting choices are made within a game itself rather than at deck creation

    • I'd love to see more of this from each faction
    • Blue has this a bit as well
  12. Red feels, for the most part, like a fairly balanced and interesting faction to play as and against at all skill levels

What doesn't feel like it's working for Red

  1. Red has no clear way to kill Big Tanks - especially Bramblethorns

    • Entire army cannot typically kill a Bramblethorn solo
    • Even 2 Red armies focusing fire often can't kill microed Bramblethorns, especially if Grath is present
    • There seems to be no unit in Red's deck that helps address this
    • As a "DPS faction", this feels like a major liability to have no option for
    • PROPOSED SOLUTION: What if Red had a way to apply stacking "weakened armour" debuff or the like with some unit?
  2. Vex's ult still feels overtuned

    • Can kill armies in 1 shot
    • Can't be dodged from up close - Vex can always just suicide trade. Not fun to play against
    • Startup is fine if you're not adjacent to Vex but there are many occasions where you can't realistically do anything to avoid being pressed up close
    • Would feel less problematic if armies weren't mostly Tier 1: If more T1.5 or T2 troops that didn't get 1-shotted, might be less unpleasant in current form
    • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Have ult deal (at most) 70% of a unit's max HP or something similar
  3. Eris basic's cooldown reduction effect doesn't feel like it adds much except complexity

    • Missing a shot is annoying but happens rarely
    • Mostly just disrupts rhythm
    • Frustrating without inviting much counterplay
    • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Remove on-miss penalty. This may cause unintended problems with spamming, but seems worth testing
  4. Casters all feel lumped at Tier 3, with a lot of overlap between abilities

    • Red had lots of ways to control space and clear out T1 chaff
    • Igniters the closest thing to support casters
    • Otherwise lots of AOE damage. Choices at T3 thus feel somewhat restrictive - trying to pick the best of similar options
    • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Pyrosaurs may be more interesting with a different set of abilities rather than fairly redundant waveclear. What if they helped with Red's problem killing Big Tanks?
  5. Beetles and Scarabs both feel fairly useless

    • Most Tier 1.5 feels very weak at the moment. Beetles are pretty par for the course
    • DPS melee like Scarabs feels very weak in Atlas because Upgraded Marines (which Atlas is full of) typically chew through medium-HP melee units with little effort
    • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Tier 1.5 feels like it needs a rework - in general these units feel like wastes of Shards. Scarabs on the other hand I'm unsure how to improve - is there a place for medium-HP melee DPS?
  6. Red's power level seems rooted in map objectives

    • Not necessarily a downside, just something to keep in mind
    • The wider the range of points of conflict, the stronger red feels


  • tedstertedster Member
    edited August 10


    Green is in a weird place, with a handful of good units but much less synergy or variety than other decks. Green feels strong but same-y, and units typically don't feel like they "go together"; you're just using 1-2 "good" units and often ignoring the rest of your deck. Many of Green's units do the same thing as other Green units, just better or worse.

    Green feels like it's got a bit of an identity crisis as a result. This identity issue is magnified further by the lack of any spellcasters in the Green Faction. It feels very strange that the color of Strength, Resilience, and Nature has no offensive or defensive buffs. The most obvious parallel would probably be to Magic: The Gathering, where Green is traditionally THE color of combat buffs.

    I wouldn't expect Green to have any nukes. But no "spells" at all just makes them feel kind of incomplete and thematically sparse.

    Green's heroes are distinct and interesting (though Grath has some potentially problematic interactions with Big Tanks) and provide unique play experiences. Their basic units are strong, but don't feel like they synergize much with their advanced units.

    What Works for Green

    1. Green's Tier 1 feels interesting and strong for both heroes
    2. Green's heroes play distinct, powerful roles that feel fun

      • Caveat: Grath's basic feels problematic on Big Tanks (including himself when Ulted). Seems like it is up much too often to counterplay against in many circumstances. Armies unable to kill a single Bramblethorn between self heal and Grath basic feels bad
    3. Green's Tanks feel very Green and are fun to use
    4. Slotting 1 Green army into a team feels good as they can shore up weaknesses well
    5. Green feels fairly strong overall with a very rewarding Tier 3 unit (Batterhorns)
    6. Bramblethorns are one of the few genuinely scary Tier 2 units, which I think the game could use more of

      • This creates a more distinct midgame that Atlas sometimes feels like it lacks
      • Caveat: Bramblethorns feel rather problematic in their current form due to requiring hard counters to kill
    7. Alder is one of the more fun and straightforward support heroes for new players to learn
    8. Green is good at killing enemy bases without suffering losses, which can provide interesting play
    9. Map agnostic: Green feels strong in all modes that have been tested: Titanfight, Capture Zones, and Triple Titan
    10. Green feels fairly well-balanced outside of some Bramblethorn issues - not too good, but always useful

    What doesn't feel like it is working for Green

    1. Green's army doesn't feel like it synergizes with itself at all

      • It feels correct as green to focus on exactly 1 unit at a time
      • Basic units don't feel like they synergize with Tier 2-3
      • Only Toxin Alchemists really feel like they "support" other strategies and they have their own problems
    2. Green lacks spellcasters and any buffs/debuffs

      • Confusing thematically
      • Limits variety of play
      • Contributes to the monochromatic armies of Green - usually only doing 1 thing in any given fight
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Consider battlefield buffer - this is the faction of Strength and Resilience. Surely they can have some sort of support caster?
    3. Grovetenders now feel fairly redundant with Seedbots

      • What makes playing with Grovetenders "different" outside of higher DPS? Couldn't this same effect be achieved with an upgrade?
      • Also feel pretty weak for their cost
      • Proposed Solution: Make Grovetender "plants" into AOE buff-stations rather than raw DPS
    4. Bramblethorn Goliaths feel problematic due to introducing hard counters in a game with limited information and deck slots

      • Bramblethorns hard counter several army compositions, especially if supported
      • This can be a problem because deck slots are limited and fixed before gameplay begins
      • It is possible for even a high-DPS team to have no reasonable way to harm Bramblethorns (this happens surprisingly often in actual games)
      • Thus teams MUST be built to hard-counter Bramblethorns in case they show up
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Possible rework to Bramblethorn self-heal or how they work in general so hard counters are not required
    5. Toxin Alchemists feel like a band-aid and introduce even more hard counters

      • Green has no good way to interact with Big Tanks outside of Alchemists
      • So Alchemists are almost required in every green comp
      • This doesn't look like a problem at first glance because Green deck slots are not very valuable - most of the time you're only making 1-2 units the whole game as green - but this is helping mask green's issue with diversity, which I'd contend is not a good thing
      • Alchemists counter Big Tanks so badly that it's often wrong to make them if the opponent's deck has Alchemists at all
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Make sure at least 2 otherwise good units in Green's army can do something against Big Tanks, so Alchemists are not required as a crutch in their current form.
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Consider reworking Alchemists to stack "damage amplification" splash acid shots or something similar to increase usability but lower hard-counter propensity
    6. Most of Green's "good" units cost large/similar amounts of Shards and Supply

      • This makes it very difficult to field a diverse army
    7. Green doesn't have to make tough choices in deck composition as they probably can only focus on 1 unit + basic troops for almost the entire game
    8. Howling Commandos feel problematic from a design perspective unless T1.5 becomes more prolific as the backbone of some armies

      • AOE Ranged damage on a Tier 1.5 seems designed to hard-counter Tier 1
      • So their numbers feel very low to prevent this from happening or they'd be oppressive
      • So they lose to Tier 1, making them feel like a major trap
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Tough to say. I'd personally consider a bottom-up rework of the Howling Commando, though if Tier 1.5 becomes universally better it might not be as problematic having them devour T1 (in which case they'd probably need a very significant buff)
    9. Abominable Sludges are a super cool flagship unit but feel very outclassed by Bramblethorns at the same tasks

      • Why slow a big group of dudes when you can just kill them all with AOE melee?
      • Why tech to Tier 3 when you can get a better effect at Tier 2?
      • Why not use a unit that can self-heal and is easier to catch the enemy with?
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Unsure. Feel like they need serious differentiation from Bramblethorns who already bully blobs of enemies in a similar fashion but much more effectively
    10. Relatively few in-game choices. Save up shards till you can build 1 of the huge melee you were gonna build. Repeat.
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited August 10


    Blue is my favorite faction. It is a highly synergistic faction with lots of tough choices to make in deck and army composition. It is encouraged to build a "complete" army and has interesting support options along with neat tools for ambushing and disabling the enemy.

    The biggest problem I have with Blue, however, is that the individual components feel quite weak at the moment. Almost every core Blue unit has eaten a significant nerf, and while a fully-reinforced Blue ball can still do some work they have trouble contributing much until they get there - and even then, it feels less powerful than other balls due to very low damage potential and reliance on Tier 3.

    Blue was, for a time, the only faction that could really base its army on large amounts of Tier 1.5. It had an interesting and established midgame as a result and while Plated Warriors have since been nerfed, I would love to see other factions' Tier 1.5 buffed to bring them more in line with this midgame potential that Blue once had.

    I don't have the data available that precipitated the nerf to Plated Warriors, but I would personally argue that bringing other T1.5 options in line with the power of Plated Warriors would introduce more interesting gameplay choices than the current solution because Blue had one of the most exciting and dynamic midgames in Atlas.

    What Works for Blue

    1. Blue is a highly synergistic faction - you're building an army, not just a collection of dudes
    2. Lots of flavor - Blue digs in and makes shit cold. Feels Blue
    3. Can incorporate many different spells and abilities - Blue feels customizable
    4. Several units reward splitting armies and interesting micro (Scuttles, Shadows)
    5. Good defensive options throughout the game
    6. One of the few units that is effective at assassinating enemy armies
    7. Interesting tradeoffs between the two heroes
    8. There was a fun and interesting tug-of-war between teching and spending Shards on strong Tier 1.5 options

      • I would love to see this for every faction. It's a very fun part of RTS play that opens up a lot of doors for in-game decision-making but feels relatively absent in the current build of Atlas
      • Pre-nerf Plateds felt strong enough to justify that early expenditure but could put you behind the tech race, so it felt like a real and exciting tradeoff you were making
      • Caveat: The nerf to Plateds makes it feel right to mostly ignore them or make 1-2 to soak up specific types of attacks
    9. Units synergize with neutral units well

      • Creates interesting tension in deck construction
      • More customization options than other factions
    10. Very distinct basic units with their own advantages/disadvantages

      • Caveat: Scuttleguards have a lot of overlap with Terrapins but do much less damage, and often feel like a strictly worse choice
    11. Strong and interesting Tier 3 options between Chillers, Aquadillos, and Ice Frogs

    What doesn't feel like it is working for Blue

    1. Blue's units feel individually weak now

      • Very big nerfs have hit Quads, Plateds, Scuttles, Shadows - the core units of pretty much every build people had been using
      • Armies feel weak until they are fully assembled
      • After losses or while still building up, Blue feels weaker than most other armies
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Consider improving Blue's Tier 1.5 to give them effective things to spend Shards on in small quantities
    2. Even when fully assembled, Blue armies aren't particularly threatening

      • Aquadillos are great but other factions can do similar things and have more to do in the meantime
      • Damage is low even if Blue builds for damage
      • It's often right to ignore the Blue army and focus on other people - just hold them back
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Blue might need a DPS increase across the board. Again, I think this could be partially fixed with better Tier 1.5 options
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Improve the Frostcaller, either by cutting its Shard cost in half or changing how its ability works/deals damage
    3. Blue has no tools for fighting Big Tanks like Bramblethorn Goliaths, which can often be used to disable or zone the Blue army while you fight their teammates

      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Give at least 2 of their units some way to positively interact with Big Tanks. Consider giving Shield Slugs some effect that is powerful against high-hp units. Consider giving some caster an ability that interacts positively with enemy Tanks
    4. With the nerf to Plated Warriors and the big increase to Quadrapus cost (and nerf to power level) it's hard to have enough shards to build a complete army at all

      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Unsure. Costs feel very high across the board for Blue units relative to their power level. Many players seem to agree that it's correct to just make basic units and tech straight to Aquadillos now
    5. Blue's Tier 2 casters are both very expensive (150 shards) and Frostcallers feel quite weak, so it almost always feels better to just get a Quadrapus

      • Have to channel for long periods of time to deal damage
      • Damage component is small
      • Seem designed to counter Tier 1 with the low DPS aoe... but Tier 1 has an easy time sniping Frostcallers
      • Do almost nothing to higher tier units
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Consider cutting Frostcaller Shard cost and see if abilities are more in line with the investment. Ideally this will create an interesting choice between Quads and Frostcallers
    6. Quadrapi felt like Blue's flagship unit but feel heavily outclassed by Precogniters now

      • White Deathball feels much stronger (and more resilient) than anything Blue can assemble
      • Precogs are cheaper and easier to keep alive
      • They also block more damage
      • Quadrapi are no longer very hard to snipe and losing one is critically bad at 150 Shards
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Precogniters may be the real issue. It's possible Quadrapi are undertuned for their very high cost now. I'd consider lowering their cost somewhat but leaving their numbers the same
    7. Shield Slugs seem OK on paper but feel very weak in actual combat

      • Most Tier 1.5 feels very weak in Atlas right now
      • Slugs feel like Roaches or Hydralisks but don't do enough damage to outclass Tier 1
      • They don't really beat Tier 1 in a firefight due to being outranged and focus fire being better against Slugs
      • The Shard costs of making a Slug army puts you significantly behind in other areas of the game
      • High-damage shots are less valuable in Atlas due to the Armour system being %-based rather than raw damage reduction - lots of small shots are strictly better for avoiding overkill and picking up new targets faster
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Reduce Shield Slug range by 2 and increase their damage by a large amount. Make them hit like trucks if they are allowed to DPS, but make them slightly more kiteable. This helps differentiate them from Tier 1 DPS and also lets them kill Big Tanks, which Blue is usually unable to do
    8. Kingpins seem like they are supposed to fix Blue's issue with DPS - but they seem to have a lot of problems

      • Check out THIS POST for a big writeup on Kingpins that I still think applies
    9. Lot of similar "AOE Slow" effects limit diversity and feel like overlap

      • Shadows, Frostcallers, Ryme Ult, Glacial Rangers all doing similar things
      • PROPOSED SOLUTION: Consider changing Frostcaller spell in some way to differentiate it
    10. Reliance on Neutral units makes it even harder to assemble an adequate army right now

      • This was part of what made the faction interesting before some of the nerfs made it feel stretched so thin
  • tedstertedster Member

    Reserved: White

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited August 9

    Blue finished: possible placeholder for wrap-up

  • Bramblethorn Goliaths feel problematic due to introducing hard counters in a game with limited information and deck slots

    What if, there is a upgrade in game where you bring a new unit into your pull?! XD

  • The irony about your comments re: Precogs is that when Precog's Blinding Smoke ability was on a mercenary (BlinderMan!), I would regularly get that when playing Blue. Despite the fact that it worked differently (reduced range) it actually worked really well with a tanky blue squad because you could try and force ranged enemies to either play on your terms (in mostly melee) or force them to back away into a disadvantageous position. It seemed to mesh well with Hydros and I lament not being able to do it anymore. For White it seems like it only reinforces their ranged superiority to have this ability.

  • excalexcal Member, Administrator

    Haven't gotten a chance to read through all of your colors yet, but quick notes on Red:

    Don't have time right now to touch on everything (have to get a playtest build out!), but I agree with all of the sentiments you've mentioned. There's way too much overlap in functionality (AOE EVERYWHERE), there are some very clear weaknesses (single target damage), and some things are too strong (thanks, Pyroblast).

    Not sure how much of this we'll get to address in the near term, but I'd like to test some re-designs to add some diversity to Red. It's nice to have some sense of color identity, but it's definitely too homogenous at the moment for Red.

  • Hey I just wanted to mention that i've suspended this thread and will not be doing White for now since so much has changed about the game that there's no way what I post will be remotely accurate for the current build.

    I could post White as sort of an exercise if you guys (devs) think it might be helpful but otherwise I'm going to wait a bit before my next big megapost - at least until we have a release build.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    I'd like to say though, that I am almost 100% certain that a lot of what was written here was taken into account. At least I feel that the colours went through changes that were super beneficial.

    Although the changes haven't comprehensively changed everything you have mentioned, it does solve key weaknesses. For example, with Blue, we have weak T1.5, relatively slow ramp-up to a very strong lategame army. While this hasn't changed, the new damage upgrade on the frostcaller has made the colour much stronger.

    Likewise, with Green, the changes to the Howling Commando and Toxic Mystic has fleshed out the colour considerably in the T1.5 and T2 department. The upgrade for Toxic Mystic is very interesting for sustained poison damage, and I'm looking forward to testing them more.

    Red's lack of dmg, at least for Vex is partially solved by his new ramp up on his basic ability. On level 15, Spitfires now do 25 dmg on units on Fire, that is 10 Phys and 15 Magical Damage. They are one of the colours that benefit immensely from joint magic and physical upgrades. In the lategame you can have spitfires hitting for 40 dmg on 0 armor stuff. Eris is currently the more difficult hero to find a clear role for.

    Red's Melee units are generally quite challenging due to the inherent discord with the colour's ranged nature. I think Cinderbeetles are fine, they just need a few adjustments to how their ability is being cast (already talked about this). Exofiends have received additional 'identity' with the slow at unburrow, hopefully this will help. Pyrosaurs are really difficult to use, have a high skill ceiling. It is hard to tell if they are too weak at this stage, but I'd love for them to get a bit more toughness, and maybe have their magic attack dmg type changed to piercing, fulfilling the anti-heavy role.

  • Yeah, it seems like a lot of the changes were closely related to stuff I discussed - I'm assuming they had already reached similar conclusions, but it feels good to see some confirmation :)

    Honestly I really think the current build is the most fun version of the game I've played so far. It still needs more tweaks and I'm still not sure about the side lane caterpillar spawns, but the overall flow of gameplay and the mix of units is starting to really work for me.

    Good work so far errone!

  • SirSir Member

    Great feedback, you seem very knowledgeable and involved in the game. Waiting for White analysis. Btw, is it officially White or Purple? My friends say it's purple and I say it's white.

  • I've honestly stopped updating this thread because so much was changed over the course of several rapid-fire patches. Most of this stuff is referring to legacy units and balance and is no longer applicable in the current patch. On top of that the current metagame has not really developed enough for me to make judgments on a lot of units and strategies.

    I'd love to make another one of these threads, but I'd like a little more time to hash out the various units and strats first with the current build of the game. A LOT has changed since I made these posts.

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