Co-op Commander Draft: Selendis

Multiplayer Discussion
Hi. I know, I know. Another Selendis suggestion thread, we've seen those before. Hell, I've seen those before. However, as I've been playing through the individual Co-op commanders, especially the ones that have come out lately, I've noticed a trend of gradually departing from the classic core mechanics of a race and wandering into the undorthodox. This is where my suggestion comes in, as it's been one I've been mulling over in my head for a while, but the design always seemed a little too radical. I always tried to bring it down to the ground a little to line up with the classic Protoss mechanics, but seeing what the devs have been doing recently with commanders like Tychus, maybe it's not so outlandish anymore. To preface, this is just a draft. There are still some holes to plug (calldown lineup, levelling, upgrades, hero unit mechanics) but the general concept is where I'm looking for feedback here. So here goes...

======Selendis, Commander of the Golden Armada=======

The basic design stems from the Safe Haven mission from WoL, specifically Selendis' Purifier Mothership. Now, traditional designs would suggest making the Mothership Selendis' hero unit, similar to Kerrigan or Dehaka and otherwise making her play like classic Protoss. However, I find that, in general, all the Protoss commanders already play mostly like default Protoss in terms of base building and tech, with only the units and calldowns being different. Other races, on the other hand, go all over the place with their base construction and design. Tychus, Stukov and H&H being probably the most radical. To make Selendis feel different and really hammer home the idea of the Mothership being the centre of your playstyle, the Mothership would BE Selendis' base. Like H&H build their Assault Galleons to serve as mobile battle bases and Barracks/Factories, Selendis would have her Mothership to serve as her entire base. It would train workers, it would train ground and air forces, it would unlock the tech tree, it would research upgrades. It would be your all-in-one base. Your hero unit and your loss state (should you lose it). And it would fight...sort of.


So how would this work? Obviously you need some buildings, right? At least a Nexus for mining. Well, no. To push the importance and flavour of the Mothership as your base further than H&H do with their Galleons, Selendis would start with her Mothership, couple of her special Probes and nothing else. No Nexus. Your workers would be automatically warping the resources they mine onboard the Mothership for processing. If you've played Warcraft 3, you'll be familiar with the Night Elves' system of collecting wood. A wisp (worker) attaches itself to a tree and automatically generates wood from it periodically. Only one wisp can collect from a single tree, but you can essentially run your entire wood economy off of a couple of trees where other races have to cut down acres of that stuff to get their mills going. While Selendis' workers wouldn't be generating resources from thin air (wisps in WC3 wouldn't actually deplete the tree while Selendis' Probes would totally mine out minerals if given enough time) they would work similarly otherwise. Selendis' Advanced Probe would attach itself to and occupy a mineral patch. As long as it does, no other workers can mine that mineral patch, meaning Selendis' base would be fully saturated with 7 Advanced Probes on minerals. Obviously, you normally mine with 3 Probes per patch at full saturation, so Selendis' Advanced Probes would gather 3 times as fast (she would start with fewer Probes, obviously) and would be 4 times as expensive and durable and would take 4 times as long to build. This would compensate also for the fact they don't have to spend time travelling to the Nexus to return the resources and the fact that Selendis doesn't need to build a Nexus to get her expo going. She doesn't even need to destroy the rocks, only the gas rocks.

Speaking of gas, Selendis' Advanced Probes would only be able to construct two buildings. An Advanced Assimilator and Plasma Cannons (we'll get to those later). Building the Advanced Assimilator would consume the Probe as if it was a Drone, and the Probe would deploy into an Assimilator that automatically collects gas (since, obviously, the Probes have nothing to carry the gas to). Since all "buildings" are essentially contained in the Mothership, Selendis would start at max supply, so she doesn't need Pylons.

All this has two major effects. Firstly, your focus can be fully on the Mothership. Since it trains your units, builds your Probes and unlocks your tech, you'll be motivated to keep an on it at all times. No need to pop back home to check your Probe production. Your Probes would be built right there on the battlefield (allowing for some Plasma Cannon shenanigans too, similar to Karax's Cannon creeping). The reason for this is that if you lose your Mothership, you're done. It's like losing your whole base. Now, there could be a Mothership Warp Beacon in your base to respawn your Mothership some time after death, but I'd personally be for an all-or-nothing approach. If you lose your Mothership, you're dead, that's your base you just lost. And obviously, since your Mothership trains your units and has some abilities, you're motivated to keep it close to the front line. So it's a push and pull situation.

Secondly, one of the key parts of RTS is defending your base. If your base is on the battlefield, on the move, what's to stop you from just abandoning the defense of the base and letting your ally fend for themselves, right? Well, it just so happens that your whole economy is back there. And since you have no other buildings unless you Cannon up, guess what your enemies will be going after once they're in your base. Your Probes. You have no buffer buildings to slow them down, no tech to destroy, no production buildings to lose. Just your juicy Probes. So you're still motivated to take good care of your main spawn and your expansion (and thus also your ally) even if your actual base is floating somewhere out there on the battlefield.
----Base Building...or Not----

Now we're getting to the meaty part. How exactly do you "build up a base" when your base is a single unit? There's not much progression there to be had, right? And what about the interface? Well, here we can actually take some inspiration from the Hatchery or worker interface the game already has. When you select your Mothership, you'll have tabs similar to what you would see if you select a worker. One key to open up a unit menu, similar to what you see when you select a hatchery and click to select larvae. In the next tab, attachments. These would be your tech tree progression. Your Gateways, Robos, Stargates, Fleet Beacons, Forges, what have you. These could all fit into a single tab instead of a worker's standard two tabs (Basic and Advanced Structures) because, remember, you don't have Nexus or Pylons and your Assimilators and Plasma Cannons are built by your Advanced Probes. Third tab, research. To fit everything into one tab, your Protoss Ground and Air Weapons would be combined to a single Protoss Weapons upgrade line, and your Protoss Ground and Air Armor and Shields would be combined into a Protoss Armor and Shields upgrade. That would leave enough space for specific tech for your units. Since Selendis would be forced to share both specific unit tech and weapon upgrades on a single research building, I would give her two research queues, displayed when your Mothership is selected in a similar way as when a Terran has a Reactor on a Barracks. Two research queues, running simultaneously.

Constructing a production building attachment would pop up a Gateway/Robo/Stargate indicator on the right side bar, the same place where tutorial messages appear in the campaign as I recall. You would then just select these to open up your Gateway/Robo/Stargate queue and click up whatever units you want to build. If this "Command & Conquer"-like sidebar solution was used, there would potentially be no need for the unit construction button on your Mothership, and that button would be used solely to train Advanced Probes instead. Clicking the button of the given production structure would select all the attachments of that type your Mothership carries, allowing you to click through all the queues and see what's building where. There could be a visual indicator on the Mothership to show how many of each attachment you have. The Mothership is quite large and would fire from a long distance so making it even bigger would not obstruct visibility. So your mothership could carry the typical Gateway arch with crystal on one of its bays, etc. and there could be a limit to how many of these attachments actually fit on your ship, so that you have to be conservative with what you build.

Lastly in base building, the static defense. Static defense would play an interesting role for Selendis. Since she has no other buildings in her base, static defense would play the role of a buffer to prevent enemy units that got inside your base from going straight after your exposed economy. It would also allow her other interesting strategies like "cannon rushing". Since Selendis has no power fields and does not warp units in (hence the use of a Gateway, not Warpgate), she could warp her Plasma Cannons anywhere (alternatively, the Mothership could provide a map-wide power field to allow interesting synergies with Protoss allies). And since the Mothership trains workers, she could also pop out the workers to do so on command right on the battlefield. The Plasma Cannons would be more powerful, AoE versions of the Photon Cannon. They would fire projectiles similar to the Solarite Dragoon's AoE ground wave projectile that Fenix gets, but obviously weaker. This would help make her less miserable to play on defensive maps compared to, say Han and Horner, whose lack of static defense can make for some truly miserable commander combinations on Dead of Night and would give her a different feel on defensively oriented missions compared to most Protoss (except Karax).

Since the goal of Selendis' design is to make her feel unique among her Protoss brethren and give off the atmosphere of the Golden Armada, Selendis' units would be similar to Nova's in that they would be more unique, elite, tactical compared to what other Protoss commanders already cover. As such, Selendis would be the only Protoss commander so far to not have Zealots or their equivalent. Zealots are an integral part of Protoss frontline for every other Protoss commander. They rush in so that your other units are safe. Selendis would instead focus on keeping enemies at a distance and crowd controlled. Since a great number of Selendis' most powerful units would be fliers, and since keeping enemies out of her base is so vital to her, she needs tools to prevent swarms of ground units that cannot attack air from simply running over her smaller ground force and then continuing onwards to her Probe line. However, she can achieve that without the suicidal services of the Zealot, instead utilising a more tactical combat force, similar to what Terrans would do.

Her first Gateway unit would be the Golden Elite, a sturdier version of the Adept. They would only be capable of attacking ground, and would toss plasma javelins that do a narrow line of AoE and pierce through units until they travel their maximum distance. These would be her main clearing force against Zerg Swarmy compositions of Zerglings and Banelings.

Her second Gateway unit would be the Sentry. AFAIK this is the only unit from the LotV campaign that has not yet been implemented. The Sentry would work as the equivalent of Terran Medics, restoring Shields. Since Selendis' armor and shield upgrades for ground and air would be condensed to one upgrade, the Shields of her units would be generally stronger than other Protoss commanders, making their Shield restoration potentially more valuable for her than Shield Batteries are for Karax. The Sentry would not have an attack or any other abilities, healing would be its only role and way of spending energy.

Her final Gateway unit would be the Vicepraetor (or Grand Templar if VicePraetor does not fit lore-wise, dunno). They would be her version of the High Templar, however, without the ability to form into an Archon. They would also not be able to cast Psi Storms, as the AoE role would already be filled by the Golden Elites. Instead, they would retain their anti-caster ability through Feedback and would gain a new ability, Temporal Warp, which creates a large time bubble in the selected area, slowing down all enemies' attack and movement speed by 50 % (less effective against heroic and massive units, no effect on fliers). This combined with Golden Elites would be the bane of Zerg Swarmy compositions. In addition, the Vicepraetor would have an extremely powerful single target attack, particularly against Massive air units. The idea here is to provide a possible out in case the player creates a Gateway-heavy army (no other anti-air) and is suddenly faced with heavy Air units such as Carriers or Battlecruisers on the push to the final objective point. However, this would be a compensatory measure at best, as Vicepraetors would be fragile and expensive and generally not used in large numbers, similar to High Templars or Ascendants.

From her Robotics Facility, Selendis would be able to recruit only a single type of unit: the Line Breaker, an Immortal capable of knocking back enemies it fires on (similar to Alark wave's knockback, but with much lower knockback distance, and only on single target). Particularly useful against Aberrations and Ultralisks. Once again, the idea is to keep enemy units crowd controlled and away from her ground forces. Would reward the player for proper target fire.

These would be the only ground units Selendis would have access to, as they cover both sustain (Sentry), crowd control (Vicepraetor, Line Breaker), AoE (Golden Elite), and focus against masses of light targets (Golden Elites, Vicepraetor), casters (Vicepraetor) and larger, beefier units (Line Breaker). The theme of all the units is keeping enemies at a distance, holding and sustaining the line and preventing enemies from running past the line into the base. However, once enemies are up close, her units generally lack front-line tankiness, with the Line Breaker the only sturdier unit in her ground line-up. Once Zealots and Zerglings get close, their numbers are usually too many for the Line Breakers to pick off or knock back, and the Golden Elite's AoE loses its punch, since the pierce works best against units running in a line, not spread out in a concave in melee.

Finally, the Stargate units. This would be the true strength of Selendis. Her air units would be less focused than her ground forces, and would serve as a more general force. However, going full air as Selendis in all circumstances would be ill-advised, as the generally-focused nature of her air-force will prevent her from dealing efficiently with certain ground compositions and casters such as Infestors would be able to greatly hamper her forces without the support of Vicepraetors on the ground. These in turn require units to stand in front of them as meatshields in order to survive. This would differentiate her from, say, Fenix, who can in theory Mass Carrier no matter what, or Vorazun who can rely fully on Voidrays alone.

Having learned from her encounter with Raynor in Safe Haven, Selendis' first air unit would be the Avenger. An elite version of the Scout, the Avenger, unlike other Protoss commanders' air superiority fighters, would be equally capable against ground and air. In addition, the Avenger would eschew the use of the Scout's heavier anti-armor missiles for an adapted version of Terran's Valkyrie missiles, doing heavy AoE damage to light air targets. Its ground weaponry would be similar to Fenix's Scout, but would do much higher damage in general, but without a bonus against light units that the Scout has. It would also become a much more dedicated fighter aircraft, having greater mobility than the Viking or Scout, especially once upgraded (inspired by the Scout engine upgrade in BroodWar that nobody ever researched). It would thus be much more capable in general combat situations than the niche Mirage or Phoenix thanks to its anti-ground without having their ability to shoot on the move, yet would mimic their mobility and maneuverability and their anti-light anti-air focus to differentiate from the Scout.

Her second Stargate unit would be the Refractor, a craft similar to the Voidray, though only in looks, not function. The Refractor would use a similar crystal-based, charge-up technology to the Voidray, but to a different effect. Instead of charging up as it fires, the Refractor would not be capable of firing until it charges up all 3 of its arms (though it would do it much faster than the Voidray). Once it does, it fires a powerful, long-range (more like Vorazun's charged up Voidray, less like Tempest) one-time pulse that deals heavy anti-armoured damage and chains between targets similar to Mutalisk projectiles. The bounces retain their anti-armour bonus, but decrease in base damage. After the Refractor has fired its pulse, the weapon powers down and has to be charged up again. The purpose of the craft is to be potentially the only real counter in the game against clusters of flying Hybrid + Leviathan + Corruptor waves on missions such as in Void Launch and would make her the one undisputed choice when it comes to air superiority, rivalled possibly only by Horner. The Refractor's weakness would be the first volley, as it is incapable of pre-charging its beam before firing. The enemy would thus be able to get off several shots before the Refractor fires, which can potentially allow units such as Scourges to fly through before the Refractor is able to defend itself unless the Refractor is defended by a line of Avengers.

---continued in next post----
---Units continued---
Selendis' third Stargate unit would be the Auxiliary Core. Based on the Mothership Core, the Auxiliary Cores would function as Selendis' detectors and spellcasters, similar to the role Science Vessels fulfil for Swann. However, while the Science Vessel, and Selendis' own Vicepraetor has a mostly defensive/utility role, the Axuiliary Core would be almost offensively offensive. The Auxiliary Core has no attack and thus requires babysitting when A-moving. The Auxiliary Core would be to unleash a Concussive Blast onto a selected unit (ground or air), the selected unit would take a 33 % of its current health (so you cannot spam a unit to death with a couple of casts, the returns are diminishing) as spell damage and would be stunned for a few seconds along with any units near it. This ability could be tweaked if it makes Selendis too strong against Hybrid or heavy units such as Stanks. Its second ability, Amplify, creates an temporary aura around the Auxiliary Core that increases the attack speed of all allied units within range. This is particularly effective when combined with Refractors, reducing their charge-up time, but requires good micro from the player, since the Cores have no attack and will therefore tend to hover above the enemy forces when A-moving.

The cream of the crop of Selendis' Stargate arsenal is the Vaporizer. A unit even more expensive than the Battlecruiser or the Carrier. The player would be unable to field many of these due to their cost and unwieldiness but they would be more than compensated in terms of raw power. The Vaporizer's model would be based on the model for Aurana's Transport from Malwarfare, except smaller and flying. The Vaporizer would have but a single attack/autocast spell with very long cooldown, that focuses a powerful energy beam onto a ground area. After a few moments, the beam terminates, releasing an explosion that deals damage to both air and ground units in the area that ignites the ground (but not air) and everything on it for a few seconds. The duration of the unit burn effect would be shorter than the ground burn effect (say 2 s vs 6 s) making it so that units that remain in the zone take more damage than those that only walk through it. All enemy ground units that enter the zone while the ground is burning are also ignited for the full (2 s) duration. The fire is particularly devastating to buildings, though light units are likely to also die quickly due to their low health. The fire from multiple Vaporizers does not stack. However, the duration of the fire is shorter than the spell's cooldown, allowing a skilled player to stagger the cooldowns for maximum damage. Though 4 Vaporizers would be a difficult army to field due to exhorbitant costs, they alone could level an enemy base very quickly. Their weakness is complete lack of anti-air capability. Though the explosion they release does damage air units, it would require multiple Vaporizers to fire on the same area to finish even a Voidray. And of course, the enemy units can easily move out of the area. Vaporizers would have great synergy with Vicepraetor's Temporal Warp ability, that slows enemy units to keep them in the flames while increasing the duration for which the ground burns.

Finally, we need to talk about Selendis' Mothership itself as a unit. Firstly, no cloaking field, obviously. Its health pool would be massive. Like, in the high thousands massive. However, the Mothership would have very little shields, and would be completely, and utterly, unrepairable. No Karax healing beams, Science Vessels, SCVs or Abathur's Mend. If you put your Mothership at risk, it's not going to drop dead within a single encounter. Its attacks would be weak but the health pool would be high enough to weather the storm. However, once that HP is lost, it is lost and you have to play careful for the rest of the game. If a lategame Hybrid wave catches you off guard from the back with the Mothership exposed, you're in trouble. The ship's attacks would be similar to that of the standard multiplayer Mothership, perhaps only slightly stronger, or rather, more frequent, but with much greater range. This would keep the Mothership from getting focused when you're safely roaming with a full army, since you don't want to suddenly lose the game because of Scourge splash, and would also keep the battlefield easier to see due to Mothership's model size.

----Calldowns and Research----

Selendis' units would be expensive, but as you can see from the above, their power level is very high. Therefore, her calldowns would not be anywhere near the power level of a Stukov or even Artanis' Solar Bombardment.

The first and I'd say the only necessary top bar ability would be Warp Jump, allowing you to teleport your mothership every 6 minutes anywhere on the map (whether you have vision or not). This is to allow you to dig yourself out of bad engagements where you lost your forces and would lose your Mothership too if you tried to run (Mothership is generally slow). The cooldown is intentionally long to prevent the player from just playing recklessly and putting their whole base and the game at risk without reprecussions. If they do, the calldown is now gone for 6 minutes and all the lost health on the Mothership is permanently gone. Also note that the calldown only teleports the Mothership, not any of the nearby units, so you can get yourself out of the frying pan and into the fire if not careful.

Secondly, to pay homage to the Safe Haven mission this is inspired by, the Mothership would be able to emit an Obliteration Wave, releasing a beam beneath the Mothership that then spreads into an AoE explosion, about a screen and a half in diameter. The damage of the explosion tapers heavily from the centre, but most things in the centre, ground or air, would be killed outright. It can be used to clear a wave that beat your ground forces and is running past your army to your base, or can be combined with the Warp Jump ability to put your Mothership into position for a massive blow. However, the move is appropriately risky, as you can sustain heavy damage on your ship before the beam explodes if you teleport into an unexplored hybrid area, such as on Chain of Ascension. The ability starts with a long, 10 minute cooldown, that gradually gets shorter as your research 1/2/3 weapon upgrades.

Her final calldown would be Armada's Descent. The ability would call down a small temporary squad of max. upgraded Avengers and Refractors at the selected location. The calldown would seem underwhelming at first, with longer cooldown yet power comparable to Raynor's Dusk Wing Banshees, but the units would become permanent after commander lvl 10 (or 15). This would make Selendis potentially the most powerful commander at max army size due to her ability to have any number of free units that take up no supply in her army, limited only by how long the mission lasts.

As far as research goes, there is nothing particularly key that has to be here, and can be used to tune Selendis' power level up or down as needed. Her research can be more or less expensive, her most powerful units might need their most powerful aspects researched before they become truly strong (such as making Refractor's attack charge-up longer, shorter, making them able to pre-charge their first attack, etc.) or can instead be made even more powerful if they are underwhelming (such as increasing the travel distance of Golden Elite's javelins, making you research Temporal Warp instead of starting with it, etc.). Unlike most commanders however, I'd make it so that Selendis' weapon and armour research affects her Mothership as well, so that the ship retains some form of combat efficiency or can be used to secure first few objectives if researched quickly, and more importantly, so that her ship and therefore her base does not become more and more vulnerable as enemy weapon upgrades scale up in late game.
Thats a lot of work put into this. For that at least it deserves a read.

My opinions;
Abilities seem a bit too strong. As you said above free units that can be called down like "armadas descent" are permanent it would make her really storng and push people to avoid macro even more.

A Concern About Co-op in general

general a question/problem about co-op design i have in this example why would Selendis should be more powerful than artanis? i mean it makes no sense how can abathur be stronger than Kerrigan, its just bad desgin and whenever a newer hero comes that hero just becomes stronger for pushing people to buy them. But lore wise its just absurd.

I think the core heros requires re-work... All 3 Artanis, Kerrigan even Raynor although hes renegade commander, Han horner being stronger than him is just absurd.

This every new hero being stronger than the one before is certainly creating a power creep. rather than having rich lore evenly powerful but different commanders and unit choices.
True, that's why I'm open to her being toned down by upgrade restrictions so that she doesn't peak in power too quickly or make her expensive so that she becomes starved on gas and requires careful selection of units for any given situation. A maxed out army with Descent calldowns (even though there'd be maybe three throughout the game) would make her the strongest commander in lategame. It might just be that making the calldown permanent is just too difficult to balance (weak early because the units aren't numerous, OP late because now you have so many of them) so that could be removed. Or hell, the calldown might just be taken away completely. It's not like she needs it, it was just an idea I had, nobody else has permanent calldown reinforcements yet.

However, I would disagree that the commanders are power creeping each other out. Though I guess it's hard to really tell when every commander can solo Brutal due to lack of difficulty, I'd say that, for example, Raynor can steamroll a map just as easily as Han and Horner and probably do it earlier since he's not bound to building all 5 Galleons to get his production and force rolling. In fact, there are times where H&H's force seems to just evaporate where Raynor is holding ground quite nicely in comparison.

Going back to the design, these are all pieces that can be shifted around and that is the type of feedback I'm looking for. For example, the Vaporizer might just be removed entirely without greatly hampering Selendis as a whole. I wanted her to have a major, capital ship like a BC or a Carrier but we already have two commanders with Carriers, one of whom can just spam them on every map and win. I decided to go for something new and unique, and plug a hole in Selendis' arsenal, since most of her units don't do that well against buildings, but between Avengers, Line Breakers and Refractors, she might not even need Vaporizers for anything. You can just as easily keep the Vaporizer and remove the Obliteration Wave calldown from the Mothership and let her forces do all the heavy lifting. Everything can be adjusted and I'm grateful for your feedback. The Armada's Descent might be too much.
Every single commander has his/her own strenghts and weaknesses. There's no power creep between them and no one is pushing anyone to buy 'em. It's your choice will buy a new hero or not.

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