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» Idea: predeployed Mech on defense front
Idea: predeployed Mech on defense front EmptyThu Dec 27, 2018 11:48 pm by Master Knight DH

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Idea: predeployed Mech on defense front

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Idea: predeployed Mech on defense front Empty Idea: predeployed Mech on defense front

Post  Master Knight DH on Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:48 pm

Introduction

The whole purpose of Design Maps is to come up with a better variety of ideas, granted that ideas would inevitably need to be streamlined to make sure that some gaping hole doesn't cause too many problems. There has been headway in making competitive maps, but people always come up with new map ideas of their own, ones that could be inspiring for other new ideas for updating the standards, preferably in interest of better versatility.

It also helps when Days of Ruin fumbles CO balance to the point where map creativity gets suffocated because you have to account for FTA by Lin or Tabitha COing the Light Tank and junking on their opponent's economy. I'll get to that, but I've been thinking about the possibility of a predeployed Anti-Tank on each player's defense front--of course, that could be rather much even for DoR. Still, that does bring me to what I have in mind.

The basic idea

The idea is to give each player a free Mech on their single Factory front. The intent is to make an early rush less able to cause FTA without causing the snowball effect that poorly checked predeployed units could cause. The Mech would be solid at this due to both their strengths and their weaknesses: it would definitely be useful at stopping an early rush by a Light Tank or a Recon, while the 2 Movement Power would prevent an easy front switch forcing the Mech to be on the defense front to have any chance of a more active offense.

I created this table to display general damage for 2 Mechs VS an attack first Light Tank or Recon, using arguably the worst CO matchups, in addition to the cost damage the Mechs inflict:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fiCEhnhxbWo8w7tIXQotbdM5wZhn8QWUzi6PyosARCk/edit?usp=sharing
Oh, and this assumes max luck for the Light Tank/Recon player. Even with that, against the Light Tank, even Jess would clear 4000G worth of damage if she has the Mech on a Forest while the vehicle is on Plains--oh, and by the way, I didn't implement terrain cover reduction from HP loss into the table because it got too complicated, so I should tell you that Jess/Sturm Mech on Forest VS Von Bolt Light Tank on Plains would actually result in 4900G of cost damage. (For reference, Jess and Sturm would both deal 70%.) The Recon isn't much better off: Jess VS Von Bolt is the only matchup where the Recon can survive on equal Star terrain--and of course, even then, because of the way terrain works, that actually doesn't even apply with the Forest or City.

And remember: I'm involving both the worst CO matchups for dealing with the vehicle rush with 2 Mechs, AND the absolute minimum luck for the Mech side. Suffice to say that the Mech counter works on curbing the early vehicle rush as need be. Of course, Days of Ruin had ruin this: Lin's CO Light Tank deals 105% base to the Mech and terrain cover calculations is significantly worse, changing THAT damage from 73% to 81%, which even gimps the counterattack against Lin's CO Light Tank, further aggravated by how Lin's CO Unit not only gets a 50% DEF boost (come to think of it, that's more than the HQ's boost, except the HQ doesn't even boost attack power either), but also can retreat to maintain meter if it survives. Tabitha is disgusting as well: 126% base against Mechs, which raises the possibility of a luck KO on a freaking Factory unit, something I wish I could do with the freaking Anti-Air Tank against foot soldiers without a CO like Grimm in the older games. (Max needs to use his CO Powers in post-AW1 as well. Communication Towers barely let him have a chance of luck KO without them.) It just amazes me how you can't even hold the problem off playing defense there, simply because the only way to have a remote chance to stop the abuse leads to mish-mashing your COing and ruining your economy, forcing maps to have Airports that get controlled earlier than they should. At least AWBW doesn't have this problem.

Anyway, I may as well provide the selling points of the idea.

Selling points of the idea

Obviously, the idea is to stop Recon or Light Tank FTA rushing with a unit that itself can't cause problems. There's also a useful point to using the Mech specifically: the Anti-Air Tank, which point counters for 105% base and has 6 Movement Power (albeit on Treads) to the Mech's 2 guaranteeing first strike, while still not causing FTA because the Light Tank would respond to threaten to munch it. Also, once the bigger vehicles are out, the Mech would barely even blip, limiting his presence to the earlier portion of the game.

The Mech can also capture properties, which can be used to increase the total funds on each Day. This would allow for earlier vehicles that could actually catch infantry shenanigans before they can get the chance to build up. It is true that Infantry are meant to be equivalent to Pawns in Chess, but let's not forget to keep in mind that Pawns actually had their numbers thin out as a Chess match went on and allowed the field to open up, particularly helping out the Rooks. I should also mention how Advance Wars shows signs of meaning to balance around actively predeployed units, but didn't think about how deployment property usage would provide appealing gameplay, so that's likely a good chunk of what made infantry spam so powerful in the first place.

Aesthetics and dynamics would also be a point in the predeployed Mech's favor, for one simple reason: the concept of anti-armor in game design. Anti-armor's role in game balance, when not poorly handled, is to reward good gameplay with being able to punch through thick defensive power, but it tends to be hard to get going because of the inevitable obvious weaknesses that can be exploited by people who milk accuracy or evasion crutches. Having anti-armor be available naturally without losing the desired effect of methodical gameplay involvement would make it more viable when the weakness would not stop its availability.

Of course, naturally, this being an idea in its infancy, there's still cleaning out the crud.

Potential drawbacks and addressing them

Now here is something that would have to be mentioned as a possible issue right off the bat: Mechs' capturing. This could lead to an unexpected income increase at a wrong time. I don't think it would mess with the flow of total funds to where FTA countering would be ruined, although the hidden rule of keeping the first player to afford a relevant vehicle from affording the second or third could be a concern, but when I think about it, the whole idea could mess with early game interaction. Granted, making an early attack too strong without a reasonable counter would lead the the very problems caused by unchecked Recon Rush or that freaking DoR Tabitha/Lin CO Light Tank. At the same time, however, the Mech could make it easier to choose between income or deployment point.

At least, that's what would be the case on the surface level. I did mention before: because of that 2 Movement Power, the free Mech would still have trouble switching fronts, which if they're on the defense front they would need to do to have any workable offense. Better yet, that 2 Movement Power could prevent more active coverage against a rush if the Mech moves away. My question is, what if the property proximity was heightened on a slight yet secure detour path to the offense front? The defense boosts wouldn't matter in an area that the opponent already can't contest, and having the properties in the path need only 2 Movement Power to hop between them in general would incentivize the Mech going that way, but if the Mech moves too far into the back, the opponent could capitalize to launch an attack. There wouldn't be that big a need to lower the number of properties for the defense front to snag, because the Mech could still get economy from them, but would telegraph reduced attack ability.

There's also the concern of CO bias. Let's cover each of them:
-Sensei and Kanbei, while they boost the Mech for basically free, are of course broken anyway, so they're a non-issue, and the same goes with Colin and Hachi making use of their lower prices capitalizing upon increased funds from faster capture.
-Grit actually doesn't care about the Mech on either side in combat beyond necessities because his Mech isn't going to compare to his Artillery and the opponent's Mech will just get engulfed in the Artillery shower if it's part of any attempt at defense. Of course, giving the Mech an economy option that just costs defense that most likely wouldn't be a problem against Grit's 20% attack deficit to direct-fire vehicles (hi, Recons) would allow the opponent earlier vehicles to melt Grit's defenses sooner.
-Sami boosts the Mech for free, but if there's an economy option like what I provided above where increased attack power and capture rate aren't worth anything, she will be wasting her free stats by going with it, so she would end up demanding more methodical usage.
-COs like Max, Grimm, Eagle, and Jess could get the economy for earlier vehicles, but it would inevitably involve overcoming risk. Their Mech is also going to be overshadowed for more active attacking, so they'd be unlikely to beeline the guy to the attack front, generating leeway in getting properties.
-It's a guarantee that with more vehicles in midgame, CO Powers would likely gain importance compared to D2Ds, which would strengthen COs such as Drake and Adder, while weakening the likes of Sasha, Hawke, and Von Bolt, although Olaf and Eagle might be a touch more concerning.

Of course, Fog of War could also be a bother, because the free Mech's actions would be impossible to guess conclusively and that could mean the risk of rolling snake eyes with whatever strategy you go with. However, the CO choices are still visible, which can be useful in making a guess in how the opponent would behave. Is it enough to make sure that the free Mech wouldn't decide entire matches? You tell me.

(Besides, Sonja's invisible HP and added Vision just relate to intel anyway.)

Oh, and the elephant in the room of a predeployed unit at all? I'll just say it now: law of diminishing. A single unit gets weaker when a game lasts longer to let the unit count increase. If that unit's early game effectiveness is given a clear check, then it shouldn't cause problems later on either. As for the notion of letting players choose their units before anybody wants to remind me of playing Predeployed Maps on AW2 with Colin going up against Kanbei? Oh, they still can choose their units. The Mech trying to play David against the inevitable Goliath is just one unit within a unit type already reliant on numbers or some gimmicks I guarantee would break a map in their own right if they could be a problem.

Would this be worth it?

Now I should outline what we have with the free Mech on the defense front idea:

Pros:
-Interaction
-Useful for neutralizing vehicle rush FTA
-Fosters Anti-Air Tank usage via efficient point countering
-Added funds for slightly more vehicles to hold Infantry numbers
-Anti-armor usage gets emphasized

Cons:
-Usage of a predeployed unit
-Capture-induced FTA/STA
-CO bias, particularly with strong (S)COP user bias
-Fog of War potentially obscuring critical information

I say the Capture-induced FTA/STA point would be the biggest concern, really. And to that, as I provided for an idea earlier in the post, making sure the Mech has THREE options (defense at the cost of active offense; offense that eschews economy that could go to a lasting siege; or economy that runs the risk of a timing attack hitting a weakened defense) would prevent the player's additionally built soldiers from covering everything too easily in capture phase.

I'm not sure on other ideas, particularly for double checking against CO bias or Fog of War issues, but I don't doubt turning the weaknesses into strengths would be useful for getting the whole idea streamlined. It would especially reflect well on the mere point of anti-armor: that it gets used well by overcoming obvious defects and letting the merits shine all the brighter.

Really, it helps when Mechs' flowchart was only existing until Infantry were determined to cost-effectively defeat them. Yes, including Jess's Infantry VS Sami's Mech if Sami's Mech is on Plains, and ideally, flanking should be reasonable anyway, at the very least to have countertactics against Artillery that would simply make doubly sure the word "overextend" is sufficiently in their dictionary. The reason Mechs were as flowchart as they were was because they countered Light Tank flowchart, and if that stays stuffed because of the free Mech, people would go for alternatives that won't be as viable to disrupt. As long as Infantry are still stable enough at their roles, Mech flowchart would still stay in the past.

This whole idea is ultimately about striking the fine balance, in the interest of making sure that hitting a foot soldier with an Anti-Air Tank actually is felt instead of relying too much on burst damage, but also making sure that there are still enough foot soldiers to consider using the Anti-Air Tank's secondary combat feature in the first place.

As long as early game is addressed nicely enough, it's a guarantee the defense front Mech would improve things.

Bottom line

The cons can still be a definite issue, but creativity flourishes better when it is more mindful of them. I daresay that this is a worthwhile frontier, and in light of how Campaign maps, despite being an off example of such, tend to be balanced with predeployed units in mind, I find that predeployed units should be considered.

Who knows. Maybe we could also see 2 predeployed Anti-Air Tanks per side on isolated islands to help the Lander work out via flow from being a 4K profit investment.
Master Knight DH
Master Knight DH
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