This is a preview of our upcoming August balance patch. Our last post generated great discussion and unearthed everything from balance concerns to bugs we hadn’t encountered before! We wanted to open up the conversation even earlier to give ourselves more time to gather and react to your feedback.
But before we get into the meat of it ...
Balance Process Overview
It may often seem like balance updates are far between, but it’s with good reason. It is important to allow changes to settle after a patch, to see how the community reacts and adapts beyond initial impressions and theorycrafting.
A combination of watching replays, streams, reading player feedback, and matching this with collected data allows us to identify trends. We’ll then discuss the findings, whether we think they’re problematic and work to determine the cause of that problem. Often what people view as the problem is actually a symptom of something else entirely.
Once we decide how we want to approach the problem, we implement and test them internally. Many of you are absolutely right to point that we’re not top tier players (anymore ). Keep in mind though that it’s NOT only top tier players or 1v1 that we consider when balancing. The largest group of people playing this game are not in the upper skill brackets. On top of that, nobody - including ourselves - is immune to bias. Which is WHY we rely on all of these factors.
Lastly, we are aware that many of you feel we have over nerfed and over buffed certain units in previous patches. As a result, for this patch we will both be adjusting numbers more conservatively but also changing fewer things so we can more confidently track changes in the data.
With the help of the community, we’ve identified that fast teching to Tier 2 (e.g. 7-8 minutes for Nobs) requires too few Power generators, too little resource investment, and therefore has little impact on the size of your army or ability to control the map. The resulting trend in the meta is to hold as little Power as you need to get Tier 2 and your game-changing units.
One symptom of this is that Orks have a big advantage as their limited Power spend helps them invest in tech, hold ground and provide great early game buffs. Additionally, there is much less incentive to invest in early game units and upgrades that require Power, since they compromise your tech time.
We are going to increase the required investment of Power generators and decrease their rate of power in Escalation Phase 1. Players that want to tech up quickly will need to hold additional generators to make a timely play and will be sacrificing more of their army strength. We hope that this creates room for interesting decisions in the early game and that it begins to incentivize higher Elite Point units to be picked. This will not only stretch out the early game but will increase the attractiveness of other Power-based upgrades and units relative to it.
Lastly, to compensate for the decreased rate of Power in Escalation Phase 1 we’re going to lower the Power cost of certain units and upgrades to make them more competitive.
- Base Requisition cost increased from 80 to 100
- Scaling Requisition cost increased from 16 to 50
- Power generation decreased from 25 to 20 per Power generator
Escalation Phase Power bonus
- Escalation Phase 2: Power generator bonus increased from 50% to 87.5%
- Escalation Phase 3: Power generator bonus increased from 50% to 62.5%
- Escalation Phase 4: Power generator bonus increased from 25% to 30%
Note: The net effect is that Power income in Escalation Phases 2/3/4 remains the same as it was
We are aware that some people feel that Requisition generators grant too little benefit in Escalation Phase 1. We are keeping an eye on this, but want to avoid too many changes to the economy at once.
The rewards for killing Shield Generators are intended to help players finish the game. However, during our continued playtesting of the new changes, we observed that in the early game, 100 Power was simply too big of an instant advantage. We are considering removing the Elite Point reward as well, but want to be more conservative. Other possible future options include scaling the reward based on escalation.
- Power resource reward for killing Shield Generators decreased from 100 to 50
From our experience, production structures are too easy to take down in the late game. A health increase is something we could do to fix that, but would make it harder to dislodge early forward bases. Instead, production structures will now benefit from vehicle/heavy infantry health upgrades. Our instinct is to exclude Turrets, Waaagh! Towers and Webway Gates for the time being.
- Vehicle Health upgrades will now apply to production structures (e.g. HQ, Barracks, Doctrine Chapel, Machine Cult, Armory)
This includes Deathstorms as we felt they evaporate too easily in the late game.
We put a high Power cost on these because we found that they were very hard to deal with in early testing, so we felt they needed a big drawback for the map control they help secure. After observing their usage and given the Power rate decreases, we’ll be lowering the cost.
- Power cost decreased from 60 to 50
Orks are currently experiencing very high win rates vs. both Eldar and Space Marines. As we mentioned, we would like to be more conservative with these changes, but also improve some underperforming units at the same time.
Waaagh! Towers provide great map control and provide a fall back point for Orks; they need this as they are more susceptible to kiting, unit loss, and area of effect abilities. We will be increasing the cost on Waaagh! Towers which will make them come out a bit later, extend the early game, and hurt that much more when they are destroyed. Health or damage may be needed to be adjusted in the future.
Even with this change, the strength of the Waaagh! Ability buff needs to be addressed. The intention is that the long cast time gives the opponent ample time to prepare, attack or retreat. But even with good positioning and planning, it’s a bad idea to fight a Waaagh!’d army. As a result, players often have to concede their resource points, generators and forward positions.
There were lots of great suggestions in the forum that could be viable in the long term, but we would like to take a smaller first step. We are reducing the damage and speed of the buff, and offsetting those gains to the Longa Waaagh! upgrade. We do think speed is one of the biggest factors into why this ability is so powerful, as it allows you to run right through setup squads.
- Power cost increased from 75 to 85.
- Requisition cost increased from 75 to 125
Waaagh! Buff (including Gorgutz’)
- Damage bonus reduced from 50% to 35%
- Speed bonus reduced from 3 to 2
Longa Waaagh! upgrade
After looking at the usage rates, we agree that they’re still underperforming. People are correct that in numbers or when built from scrap, they can be quite effective for the investment. However, they should be able to stand on their own. Given that skimmer units have a powerful counter, they can still be kept in check with the proper counterplay.
- Health increased from 550 to 650
- Damage increased from 9.25 to 11.1
Killa Kan usage rates overshadow all other Ork vehicles by a large margin, especially in higher skill brackets. In our opinion, the problem largely lies with the combination of Long Range Rokkit and upgraded Killa Kans.
We’re making a change that retains the functionality of Long Range Rokkit, but requires the player to sacrifice their burst potential for super long range poke. If players want to decrease their downtime, they’ll have to sacrifice a doctrine slot to use the Rokkit refill doctrine and aggressive Pile o’ Gunz placement. We’ll keep our eye on whether further changes to Kans are needed.
- Decreased the max Rokkit bonus when looting from 6 to 5
Doctrine: Long Range Rokkit
The squig bomb demands too much micro to counter relative to its effectiveness. We had considered making it a one-hit kill, but the model is too small and finicky to click on with reliability - especially during a chaotic fight! It will now be auto-targetable, but given a lower attack priority. Meaning, units like Boyz can still screen for them. If they’re still considered too strong after this, we’ll look at lowering their health or preventing them from entering cover.
- Squigs can now be auto-targeted by enemy units
- Squigs have lower attack priority than other units
- Fixed a few cases where squigs would get stuck, they can now pass through other units
- Fixed squigs not always playing an explosion when killed
The Mad Dread is in need of some love. For a 7 point Elite, he provides good utility with his Tunnel (however the Weirdboy offers a similar benefit) but is a little lackluster when he arrives.
We’re currently testing an ability where he charges forward in a line, dealing damage and knockback. Colliding with a vehicle or super unit immobilizes and damages them over a 10-second period. This combines well with Tunnel, since he can reach high value targets more easily. As an added bonus, it can help him reach a full fury bar if Rampage has triggered, restoring his health.
- Charges in a direction up to 50m
- Deals 100 True damage and knocks back in a 4m circle around him as he charges
- If he collides with a Vehicle or Walker, the Mad Dread stops and begins to channel, continuing to drill into the target - immobilizing them. Deals up to 3000 True damage over 10 seconds unless interrupted by crowd control effects
- Increased Shields from 1250 to 1750
Even after some changes, the Weirdboy is still a dominant pick. We agree that his Scrap Blast, given how good it can be, should be on a longer cooldown.
- Scrap Blast cooldown increased from 20 seconds to 30 seconds
We stand by our change to Stun Trap, but recognize that he struggles when caught behind enemy lines. He may require more significant changes but for the time being, we’re going to increase his health and slightly buff his speed boost.
- Health increased from 2500 to 2800
- Increase speed bonus granted by Sneaky from 2 to 3
Note: This does not fully stack with the Waaagh Tower bonus
- Fixed a bug where if he attacked from Stealth, then used Sneaky to re-stealth his Shotgun would not knockback units
- Fixed a bug where his Stun Trap would not stun units that jump into its radius
Recent changes have improved the Eldar to a 50% win rate vs. Space Marines - a significant improvement from pre-patch values. We suspect they may still have some weaknesses to address, especially when on the back foot early game, but don’t want to change their early game units at the same time we reduce the capability of the Ork’s Waaagh!
Vehicle & Skimmer Shield Upgrades
Most Eldar units have a 60/40 shield-to-health ratio, but vehicles (Vyper, Falcon, Fire Prism) were changed to 25/75 so that they’d need some downtime to repair. Unfortunately, this makes them scale poorly with shield upgrades. For example: a Big Trakk and Falcon have the same total health values, but a fully upgraded Falcon had 500 fewer health than a fully upgraded Big Trakk.
While it is true that Eldar have a convenience and speed advantage with shield regeneration around Webways, in our tests it was changing too many unit matchups (such as Land Speeders defeating Vypers). Though this is technically a good buff, we feel that it was an oversight and skimmers do have strong counters.
- Vehicle Shield upgrade bonus to Vehicles increased from 25 to 50%
Note: Wraithguard and Wraithblade will continue to get 25%
In our first major balance patch, we increased the Power cost to both unlock and build Rangers as a result of the effectiveness of ranger spam in 3v3 games. Though they are still somewhat popular in 3v3 games, their usage rates are much lower in 1v1s. Given our intent to slightly reduce Power income in Escalation Phase 1, we’re going to revert them to their original Power cost.
- Power cost decreased from 20 to 15
Prior to release, there was a time where these units were extremely dominant. Realistically, they are hard to get in any large number and can be easily countered, so we’re increasing their health and shields by 20%. We noticed that the Vyper’s missile launcher gunner slow rotation rate often contributed to it performing poorly in combat - so we’re improving that as well.
- Health increased from 375 to 450
- Shields increased from 125 to 150
- Missile Launcher rotation rate increased from 58 to 174
Despite increasing health, weapon range and adding a passive melee charge - these units still have low usage rates. One of their biggest weaknesses is getting them into melee range and reliably staying on top of units. To combat this, we’ll be increasing their base movement speed. This will also make them faster than most infantry units when they’re affected by Fleet of Foot.
- Movement speed increased from 3 to 4
In our experience, newer players find Ronahn very hard to deal with - but once they figure him out, he is quite easy to counter. To be more competitive as a pick, we feel that he needs to have a more active playstyle, so we want to increase his rate of fire and the rate at which he gains Long Shot charges.
- Rate of fire increased from 9 to 7
- Time to generate a charge outside of stealth cover lowered from 85 seconds to 60 seconds
- Time to generate a charge inside stealth cover lowered from 57 seconds to 40 seconds
- Fixed a bug where Ronahn had to setup his rifle again after Snapfire expired
We agree with the sentiment that the Wraithlord is a bit underpowered for the cost. While Glaive Charge can turn the fight in your favour, we feel he needs a bit more than that. Increasing his damage vs. single targets will make him more of a threat and increasing the length of the shield improves his resiliency and gives players more space to make plays with its other effects.
- Damage increased from 250 to 350
- Area of effect damage will remain at 250
- Duration increased from 8 seconds to 12 seconds
Since we’re focusing on Orks with this balance patch, Space Marines won’t see as many changes.
To adapt to fighting Orks, the current flavour of the month strategy with Space Marines is to rely on spamming Scouts for hit and run attacks and lengthy disables. This strategy can be very frustrating to play against and since we’re going to be reducing Ork early game effectiveness, we think it’s time to increase the cost of Scouts. With these change, for the requisition you pay you’ll have fewer stun grenades. To compensate, we’ll be increasing their ranged damage which is quite low.
- Increased Requisition cost from 200 to 250
- Damage increased to from 1.15 to 1.44
Flamers feel either too powerful or like a waste of 50 Power. The intention for this upgrade was to set up big plays, but not to the degree that simply running through the flame for one second can completely destroy a squad. What we noticed in testing is that the damage over time debuff was the main culprit. This change should make it less potent unless you can utilize other abilities to keep enemies inside the flame.
- Damage over time debuff reduced from 40 -> 20 damage per second
Note: Standing in the flames still does 40 damage per second. Amounting to a 25% decrease in damage overall.
- Power cost decreased from 50 to 40
- Power cost decreased from 65 to 55
Looking to the future
We’d like to loop the community into some ideas we’re considering for future patches. Time to kill being too fast for many players is a recurring criticism. While this does get easier with game experience, we do want to take a look at making it less punishing for new players.
We’ve been testing balance changes that increase the overall resiliency of line units, going even so far as 50%. While we’d likely avoid a completely uniform increase, we could see increasing health of line units by 20-25% on average. This is not a light undertaking as it will change relationships and pacing considerably. We’ll need to consider a wide range of questions when deciding whether these changes are worthwhile:
Should infantry upgrades scale as well as they do, should they cost more?
Do vehicles need a bigger health increase relative to infantry?
Will heavy weapon teams / snipers need more damage to compensate for the fact that they’ll be easier to run up to and disrupt?
Do the objectives need more health since it will be harder to kill units with Armor Piercing damage?
We thank those of you who have read this far (whew - this is a long post!) and would love to hear your feedback. Would a change to line unit health - and, as a result, less Elite effectiveness - be preferable to you?