insta-gibbing entire squads is the problem
I realize that these AOE abilities are sort of designed this way. I see it as a counterbalance to the pretty large forces you can muster in this game (250 pop cap) – especially true with escalation phases. However, in the early game, you often are working with just several squads. So, Elites with powerful damaging abilities in the early game can potentially take out your ENTIRE ARMY in an instant. Playing over the last weekend, there were numerous times where I “looked away” to micro or produce something, only to find that the Weirdboy threw out the Fist of Gork and murdered my squads.
My biggest problem with this effect is the little counterplay or recourse in playing against these abilities. The speed and frequency which these abilities can fly out means that you need constant attention on your squads 24/7 just to avoid catastrophic losses. While it is possible to dodge the abilities, and very rewarding when you do so (as some Elites lose a lot of their potency once they need to wait for the CDs), you basically need lightning quick reflexes. When I was playing, even if I saw the abilities immediately when they were casted, I often felt pressed for time to just barely dodge their devastating effect (often with just barely a second to spare). And since Elite abilties are essentially free to use (only costing time), it means that the cost in using and missing the ability is far lower than the cost of getting hit. This creates an imbalance in both gameplay and user effort (much easier to cast an ability than to dodge it). This is what I mean by little counterplay (hard to dodge) and little recourse (hard to comeback).
- Anecdotally, When Elites and their armies go up against eachother, it can sometimes end up in both line units being obliterated by enemy elites and leaving the elites staring awkwardly at each other without their army.