Mass converters considered harmful

Let’s be honest, Supreme Commander had severe balance problems with mass fabricators. They were simply too good, and rapidly obviated the need for map control. They replaced strategic fights for mass points with ugly, exponentially growing resource farms.

Forged Alliance rectified the issue somewhat by nerfing mass fabricators (and removing the T1 mass fabricator entirely). This curtailed the territory-less exponential ramp-up in the early game, but didn’t do anything to address the exponential ramp-up of Support Commanders in the end-game. Support Commanders generated a decent amount of mass and energy on their own, and when given the resource upgrade, just forget it. Roving packs of resource-producing, hard-to-kill SCUs were better than any resource-generating building by far.

It looks like Supreme Commander 2 has made the same mistake as Supreme Commander in terms of making mass too easy to get while bypassing territorial control (one might say “turtling”). I was playing through the UEF campaign yesterday and I found a building called a “Mass Converter”. My heart instantly sunk. “No, they couldn’t’ve done it again”, I told myself. But they did.

Let’s look at the numbers of the Mass Converter (and please, correct me if I’m off). It takes 1,000 energy to make 100 mass. This establishes a conversion rate of 10 energy for 1 mass. But energy is really cheap and easily available. One power plant makes 5 energy per tick — convert that into mass, and that’s 0.5 mass per tick, so you only need two power plants to equal a mass extractor.

And therein lies the problem. Two power plants cost less than one mass extractor, yield the same amount of mass as mass extractors when fed through the converter (you only need one, and it’s not that expensive except maybe in research points), and, most importantly, they can be built anywhere. I suspect that the end-game of any multiplayer match that lasts past the opening salvos is going to be filled with farms of energy generators … which was exactly the problem with Supreme Commander.

And the only disadvantage of mass converters? They’re micro-intensive, requiring a key press each time you want to use them, instead of working continually in the background like they did in Supreme Commander. They break the economic balance of the game and they add that intensive mindless micro-management that I love so much. FML.

I really hope to be proven wrong about this. But I can see an out — by the time mass converters start mattering at all, it’s already the end-game, and the end-game is so deadly and prone to topple off its knife edge that mass converters may not have an effect in most games.

12 Responses to “Mass converters considered harmful”

  1. MeDDish Says:

    its true mass converters are a big part of the game, but consider the game without them? how would u save 1000 mass for a exp with just mex’s?

    not to mention without them if u get stuck in a corner, what are u going to do, i still say they are a large part of the game!
    and dont forget, every faction gets them and they all produce the same, so now its a matter of who can energy farm the fastest with big games!

  2. scotchtape622 Says:

    I actually think they aren’t as bad as you say they are. Going for Mass Converters will cripple you early game, because you enemy can be going for Land Unit upgrades while you are going for structures. Also, you will be spending more resources to build extra energy plants, and remember 1 PGEN=1.5 Tanks or so, and that will effect your production.

    IMO if you can survive an enemy onslaught long enough to get Mass Converters, you deserve that advantage.

  3. scotchtape622 Says:

    And another thing, that is good for a player like you who doesn’t like eco micro, you don’t need to go for Converters. That was the biggest issue with Mass Fabs from SupCom 1 was that you needed to go for them, you had no choice.

  4. scotchtape622 Says:

    Sorry, now it feels like I’m spamming :P

    Assuming you are an Aeon player (the Aeon are definitely a good choice for going for Mass Fabs, they cost one more RP than the Cybran’s fabs do, and they are a separate building, but the Illuminate Point Defense is highly effective, especially when you place one behind a factory) it costs you 13 Research Points to get Mass Fabricators. Here are some other things you can do with 13 (or so)RP:

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=illuminate&rtb=0000100000000001000000000100000010000000000100100000001000010020010021002210102110000

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=cybran&rtb=00001000000000001000000000100000010000000000100000001000010222211000010000010000000000100000010000

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=cybran&rtb=21012221110000001000000000100000010000000000100000001000000100000000010000010000000000100000010000

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=uef&rtb=00000010000000000000100000001000000001000001000000001000000000100000100001021002121001000000100000001000010010000

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=uef&rtb=00000010000000000000100000001000002102101002210000001000000000100000100000000001000001000000100000001000010010000

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=illuminate&rtb=0000100000000001000022210210001010000000000100100000001000000010000000001000000010000

    http://www.supcomresearch.com/?faction=cybran&rtb=00001000000000001000000000100000010000000000100000001000010221001021022110010000000000100000010000

    These are just a few of the things that you can get with 13 (or so) Research Points. Also, don’t forget that if you go for Mass Converters it is harder to keep map control, which means that you will have a harder time keeping up in not only unit production (with less map control and you are spamming energy), but with the extra mass your opponent could be building more Research Stations, which would allow them to progress even further past you.

  5. SilenceoftheClams Says:

    Having played a few games in MP I’m beginning to feel that the mass converters in supcom2 are a little bit game-breaking. In Supreme Commander (and hey, Total Annihilation as well if you want to go back that far) energy was a dynamic resource, in that it wasn’t the amount of energy you had so much as the flow of energy you produced that made your economy happen. Supcom2 has changed that by simply making it an as-and-when tradeoff, energy for mass, whenever you want it, which removes the whole gamble of stalling yor economy (and everything else) should that energy flow suddenly drop away.

    When you combine it with the fact that there is no high-tech energy generator, what you end up with is vast energy farms (as predicted) which just spread and spread. There’s no longer a handful of high-value economic buildings to knock out, you just have to paste an entire map area with damage and pray your enemy crumbles. To reduce the micro, I usually set a group of energygens/mass converters to hotkey group 0 and spam out 0 + Ctrl-M like it’s a magical mass button. Which it is.

    In MP this usually means that, with a 2v2, say, you’ll have one player (usually Cybran, to take advantage of the lower research cost of mass conversion and their impressive air power) as the endgame player, with the second concentrating on harassing the enemy and protecting the Cybran until he’s ready to roll. The Cybran beelines for mass conversion and proceeds to use his instantly massive economy to produce as many air factories (or research points, or whatever) as he can, before spamming gunships, backed by as many fighters as he can get – all fully upgraded, of course. He then sends these over to a likely location for the first enemy commander and kills him, rinse and repeat. It’s not foolproof, but by stacking mass conversion with the unbalanced nature of gunships (particularly their ability to wipe out ACUs) you can quickly dispense with a large, large number of otherwise important game concepts, which doesn’t seem quite right. Apologies for overlong post…

  6. Apheirox Says:

    Completely agree with every single part of article.

    BTW, in any game with even five or ten minutes ‘rush timer’ you can consider yourself to be in the ‘endgame’ as soon as timer ends as mass convertors will be out by then and the eco explosion takes off.

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  10. noyon Says:

    They’re micro-intensive, requiring a key press each time you want to use them, instead of working continually in the background like they did in Supreme Commander.

  11. shahriar Says:

    i am little agree with this article for every part . You should use best converters

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