The forum is always stoking a discussion about varies troops in Infinity being overpowered or underpowered. An occasionally credible naysayer will say, “No, anything can work,” which is true, but I think the fundamental point that player frustrations center around is not specific combos of units, but the relative costs of their abilities. This is an article inspired from a recent Infinity Discord chat with Teslarod on the topic.
So, I’ll point to a couple of PanOceania units who were recently complained about: the ORC, the Bolt, and the Auxilia. Let’s start with the Auxilia:
The only pricing issue here is that the core Auxilia unit himself costs 10 points when he should cost 9. There is an inscrutable 1 point tax that the Auxilia pays for nothing, and isn’t really warranted, when you compare to units like the Kerail.
Trimming a point off of each profile would help to empower the Auxilia, but more importantly, would allow a little more wiggle-room to listbuilding.
But “points are power”. You wouldn’t need to throw on ODD to make the Auxilia a real terror. Let’s cut the cost in half. Imagine that the humble Auxilia only costed 7 points, including his Auxbot. Now, whoa, look out for this thing: A 7-point Auxilia would be its own kind of trouble, as PanO players smothered your table in bullets and flames, and grumbles of “overpowered” would follow everywhere they went. And this Auxilia wouldn’t just be a cheap unit―he would be a cheap unit who also supplied orders to better units.
In a vacuum, the Bolt isn’t a worthless unit. The Bolt Hacker is actually a hidden gem, since BTS6+Bioimmunity+Veteran makes him far more resistant to Killer Hackers than the average hacker. If you want to throw in a buff Hacker who can stay alive, Bolt Hacker is your man.
But the Bolt is still generally and rightly viewed as an underpowered unit. Why? BS13, Shotguns, Veteran, etc, are good.
The problem is the cost. Imagine if that basic Bolt costed 12 points. Would you take Neoterran Bolt fireteams more often in the Neoterra sectorial? Would you take Bolts in generic PanOceania? Definitely. Probably every time. And many people would call them an “overpowered” unit for 12 points.
Now, Bolts can’t realistically cost 12 points, but there are ways for Infinity to empower the Bolt without changing any of the existing skills or adding new ones.
The first power sink of the Bolt is the Combi+Light Shotgun pricing. After I’ve pointed it out to you, you’ll notice this problem everywhere (Bao, Bagh-Mari, Rodok, Maakrep, etc.). The Combi+Light Shotgun is underpowered because it is overpriced.
If you swing over to Haqqislam and look at the basic Rifle+Light Shotgun profiles, you can deconstruct that that combination costs the same as a Combi Rifle. What’s going on with Bolts and Baos and Bagh-Mari, then? Light Shotguns cost 3 points. Added to a Combi Rifle, Light Shotguns cost 4 points, bizzarely! So let’s fix that. A Light Shotgun with a Combi Rifle now costs +1 point, instead of +4 points. (It’s fair as roughly the same as a basic Rifle+Light Shotgun, since you rarely fire Combi rounds where the Shotgun rounds get the BS+6.)
While we’re at it, let’s also drop the situational Bioimmunity skill from 2 points to 1 point.
Okay, so now, the basic Combi+Light Shotgun Bolt now costs 18 points, instead of 22. All other Bolts would drop by 1 point. Is that game-breaking?
I don’t think so. There would still be a very credible reason to choose Fusiliers over Bolts in Neoterra, and Fusiliers or Regulars over Bolts in generic PanOceania. But the new pricing empowers the Bolts without strapping on new skills or stats.
This one is pretty simple. To go from BS13―the average BS value of standard HI―to BS14, the ORC pays 4 points. Is that worth it?
Outside of PanOceania, maybe. Within PanOceania, with its superheavies like Swiss Guard and various TAGs, BS14 isn’t a remarkable advantage. Roll over to Nomads to see the Mobile Brigada, who gain Courage and WIP+1, but pay 2 points less, and you can understand the grumbling of Tohaa’s allies.
This is a context issue or scaling cost, and could be resolved by simply costing BS14 equivalent to the Courage and WIP bonus of its enemy counterpart. An HMG Rifle ORC costing 42 points would be sure to see a bit more play.
But “points are power”. Imagine if the MULTI Rifle ORC costed just 25 points. No new skills, just a price cut.
You can be sure, given a month, thread after thread would appear about the broken-ass PanOceania Haris teams of ORCs causing problems in every ITS event that they appeared in.
However, using extant costs, there are other ways to empower units, just by modifying their profiles with existing Infinity point values:
Imagine that there was an SMG Zhanshi profile. That unit would cost 6 points. Would Yu Jing players spam them for orders? I expect so. These Zhanshi would almost certainly be overpowered in comparison to Keisotsu and Kuang Shi.
Worse still, imagine that there was a Killer Hacker Device program on one of these SMG Zhanshi. It would cost only 9 points.
Now, at 0 SWC and 9 points, every meta with Yu Jing would be flooded with cheap Killer Hacker Zhanshi, murdering enemy hackers and Suppressive Firing their SMGs to their hearts’ content. Price alone would break that Zhanshi.
Similar power potential here: Zerats are very unloved, and very under-taken. So imagine that the basic Zerat had an SMG instead of a Combi Rifle, and gained a Sensor.
That Zerat would cost only 17 points, and you can bet your bottom that Morat players would happily field at least 1 such Zerat in every list.
Imagine further that that Sniper Zerat had a Shock Marksman Rifle instead of a MULTI Sniper Rifle, which would cost 0 SWC and only 22 points. Would Morat players take that, too? I certainly expect so.
You could go a step further and add Albedo to each Zerat, bumping the price up by 2 points each, but making them “camouflaged” against Visors.
At 19 points, a camo-sensing visor-ignoring shock-and-fire-armed infiltrator would turn the Zerat from a “broken” unit (because it currently sucks) into a “broken” again (because it would approach Ghazi- and Proxy-levels of power).
On that note, as a Q.E.D., price is the primary problem of Ghazis and Posthuman Proxies. You could fix Ghazis just by increasing the base cost to 0.5 SWC and 9 points, and you could fix Poshtumans by slapping 6-12 points to the price of each Proxy. No nerfs to their skills or abilities necessary.
Now, I don’t actually want the ORC to cost 25 points, but you get the idea. When you’re talking about units being “overpowered” or “underpowered”, what you should probably being pointing out is that they are “underpriced” or “overpriced”.
And be careful when suggesting combos that are too cheap or too synergistic, since a combo that is too good can throw off the balance of not only the faction it is in, but all other factions that it opposes. Corvus Belli does listen to us, the fans, so we probably shouldn’t want 6-point Zhanshi running around, for the health of our game.