It's no secret that the advent Loyalists are at present a weak faction. I've spent the last few days thinking about what exactly makes them weak and more to the point how these problems could be addressed with simple changes which are actually a reasonable expectation this late into beta.
I'll start by discussing the problems and some of their causes, the move on to proposed revisions.
I. The coronata Titan is subpar
The coronata has one very potent trick up it's sleeve(Suppression Aura)- but it's still a one trick pony when it comes down to it. Repossessions was great back when it could be used to steal capital planets, but now is rather circumstantial as unless the enemy happens to have a non-capital desert/terran planet deep within their culture it does little besides save a bit of time.
Subjugating assault doesn't really become reliable until later ranks and even then only is at all useful when the enemy brings combat frigates(this ability will do nothing against an enemy using carriers kept at a safe distance & front line capitalships). These two qualities create a problem: if the ability is to be useful you need to drop 3-4 points into it, but if you do, the enemy can make those points utterly wasted by adopting what is already a very potent viable strategy.
The biggest problem though is Unity Mass. It has 3x the cooldown of snipe, less then 1/2 the range, a hefty nearby fleet component to deal it's full damage, and for all those drawbacks does only 15-20% more damage at full fleet support. Honestly I think the key to making the Coronata viable lies in buffing unity mass.
II. Weak late game
Most agree that the chief problem with the advent loyals lays in their late game rather then their start. The question then becomes "why is this the case"?
Well first off, they have none of the late tier "gamechanging" technologies some other factions have(such as the TEC loyal's Twin fortresses, the Advent Rebel's wail of the sacrificed, the Vasari loyal's ability to strip planets, or the vasari rebel's jumping starbases). Their only T7/T8 research "fury of the Unity" is laughably weak for it's tier.
Another issue that contributes to their weak late game is of course issue I(the coronata titan is weak).
Though personally I think one oft overlooked and every important reason is their lack of strikecraft support. Pretty much none of their new combat techs(Ancient retribution, Assimilated Populace, and Planet-for-a-planet) affect strikecraft. And let's face it, especially now with the presence of titans that eat frigate fleets, carriers ARE the most important late game frigate(they can stay at a safe distance & have a lot of a hull/shields). Most other faction's damage boosts apply to strikecraft(TEC loyal militia techs, tec rebel savage thrill, vasari extra weapons tech upgrades). The point is it's a major oversight that pretty much none of the factional main combat techs affect the offense of the single most important late game frigate,
III. Culture still isn't very good
Even with the huge tech benefits the advent loyals have, it's still too easy to defend against culture once the enemy has access to culture buildings of their own.
The 2 ranks of zealous worship required to be taken before Confluence of the Unity is researched delay the advent loyal's actual culture advantage too long(think of it this way, for the cost of zealous worship+confluence the opponent can put up 2-3 culture buildings to defend with, which even +60% culture isn't going to let you push through).
And later game when the opponent has a strong economy to build culture buildigns with and capitalships to spare it's extremely difficult to cause any real damage with culture if you're not already winning(which is to say have enough of an economic advantage that culture bombing makes sense)
IV Heavily split between tech trees
Most of the late-tree advent loyal goodies are in the harmony tree, but at the same time the advent loyals are a very militaristic faction and their most important combat tech, ancient retribution requires 6 hostility labs. As a result it's difficult for them to hit all of their important techs in a given game(by contrast most of the more successful factions can get almost everything important with either a civilian or militaristic focus).
This also holds in the early game, as the advent loyals pretty much need to rush 2-3 harmony labs if they want to benefit from their early culture, but at the same time like any advent faction also need to rush out 3 military labs for repair platforms/ship techs.
This is a smaller problem the I-III, but is still worth noting.
Changes to the Coronata Titan:
Unity Mass: Reduce cooldown to 15 seconds, increase maximum number of allies benefited from by 10 at all ranks
[comments: short and simple- shorter cooldown and slightly higher max potential damage. Would give the Coronata a larger punch when supported by a large fleet]
*Subjugating Assault: Attacks against enemy capitalships while subjugating assault is active drain 3/4/5/6 AM.
[comments: This would make the ability useful against capitalships as well. at 3/4/5/6 it would still likely be better to attack frigates when they are present(Slower drain rate then the kortul per target), but it would add *something* when attacking capitalships]
* : this change may to be a bit too fundamental for this stage of beta- I mainly posted it because I think it would address an existing problem well- but it is less important then most of the other changes
Changes to Advent Loyal technologies:
Confluence of the Unity: no longer requires Zealous Worship, now only requires temple of communion tech to research.
[comments: This change will allow the advent loyals to actually adopt an aggressive early culture game. With this change they can have confluence early enough that the enemy hasn't had time to build a bunch of culture buildings yet. Perhaps with this change the advent loyals would actually stand a chance at causing some lasting economic damage]
Fury of the Unity: Reduce to T7, increase damage bonus from 5% to 12.5%. Additionally as long as the 7 harmony temples necessary for this tech are maintained, this tech grants 2 extra hostility temples for the purpose of research.
[comments: This is the biggest change. it would provide the advent loyals with a strong late game tech that makes them VERY hard to fight inside their culture. Being that TEC loyals have a lower tier tech that gives +30% damage in friendly gravity wells, it feels reasonable to me for the advent to get 12.5% extra damage in friendly culture. The extra 2 labs is to make going 7 labs deep in the harmony tree actually make sense to the advent loyals who also NEED to be going 6 deep in the military tree for Ancient retribution.]
Global Unity: Reduces the cultural resistance of enemies against advent loyal culture by 7.5/15% in addition to it's current effect.
[comments: This would make mid-late game culture a bit more viable for the advent loyals much as the confluence change would help the early game. A reduction to enemies culture resistance could make culture pushing(and thus forcing the opponent to attack or lose their planet to culture) actually a viable later game strategy]
Ancient Retribution: The 10% damage bonus of this tech is additionally granted to strikecraft
[comments: This combined with Fury of the Unity buff would make a decent portion of the advent loyal damage buffs apply to strikecraft. Honestly it would be even better to have Planet-for-a-planet apply to strikecraft, but I suspect that would be harder for the devs to implement because of engine limitations.]
All in all these changes would accomplish the following goals:
-improve the coronata titan
-improve late game fleet potency by extending boosts to strikecraft & making the advent loyal later game tech(Fury of the Unity) stronger & more accessible
- Increase the potency of advent loyal culture warfare a bit more(by allowing confluence to come out earlier & adding a late game culture resistance reduction)
Honestly with these changes I think the advent loyals would be viable and playable in the way they are intended: as an aggressive mix of cultural and military pressure.
Moreover the only aspect of their early game(which is already decent) which would really be buffed by these changes is their culture-capabilities(earlier access to confluence). Consequently most of these buffs are focused on bringing the advent loyal late game to par.
Anyway, post your own thoughts on the causes of the advent loyalist's problems and potential solutions here- any feedback to my ideas is also welcome. That said the one restriction I'd like to request is: please try to keep suggested changes fairly simple. At this stage of the beta I doubt Stardock is willing to completely rework abilities/techs. Even the addition of secondary effects I've used in some of my abilities may be in point of fact too much.