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What should be the primary method of balance for 40k?
Unit vs Unit (Tactical Marines vs Guardians)
Army vs Army (Space Marines vs Craftworlds)
Faction vs Faction (Imperium vs Aeldari)

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In a recent thread, I noticed that it seemed people had very different ideas about how the game should be balanced. There were two primary groups from what I could tell.

Group A appears to be advocating for the direct balance on a unit vs unit level. For example, in terms of damage and durability, X points worth of Guardsmen should be equal to X points of Tactical Marines. Or Y points of Fire Warriors should be equivalent to Y points of Eldar Guardians. Or, in similar fashion, a Leman Russ costing 1.25 Predators should outclass a Predator by approximately 25% in terms of damage/durability. This approach seems to be more akin to a game of Chess, in which every unit controlled by any faction is roughly the equal of the corresponding unit of the opposing faction. A Pawn = a pawn, but since your Pawn is a X% better, you have X% fewer of them. The biggest downside to this method of balance is that it would be, at least in my opinion, fairly bland. Each army is basically the same, just with different looking models. Your infantry are equal to my infantry, your tanks are equal to my tanks, your monsters are equal to my monsters, etc. The differences between armies would boil down to stratagems, army-wide rules, psychic powers, etc.

Group B, on the other hand, appears to be pushing for the balance of each faction against each other, rather than each unit. So in this situation, we should see that a 1500 points Space Marine army is approximately equal to a 1500 point Ork army or a 1500 point T'au army. In this example, it would be okay for Tactical Marines to be subpar to Fire Warriors, as long as the army makes up for that difference somewhere else (better tanks, faster units, etc.). I think this is the method of balance that GW is currently attempting, in which every army is very unique and does some things better than others, but overall each army is able to compete with each other army (clearly this is not entirely the case at the moment, but it does seem to be the goal. There are two immediate problems that come to mind with this particular method of balance.

1) What exactly constitutes an army to be balanced? Are we balancing based on Space Marines, Craftworld Eldar, Tyranids, Orks, etc.? Or are we balancing with Imperium, Chaos, Aeldari, and the other scrubs in mind?
2) With as much unit variety in each individual codex, how do you balance each "army" based on all of the different options they can take? Do you base it on taking the best units of each codex all the time, or would it be based on a smattering of units from Codex A can fight the same points value in this group of units from codex B?

What are your thoughts?
   
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Unit vs Unit is probably the best way of doing it to actually achieve balance, since soup armies can just pick and choose what units they want from each codex available, so army vs army balance is largely irrelevant if you can just ignore the bad parts and pick only the good parts.

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Ideally it should be Faction vs Faction and only afterwards Army vs Army.
Problems arise when a single Army equals to an entire faction

 
   
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 Horst wrote:
Unit vs Unit is probably the best way of doing it to actually achieve balance, since soup armies can just pick and choose what units they want from each codex available, so army vs army balance is largely irrelevant if you can just ignore the bad parts and pick only the good parts.


However, I think it's safe to assume that a unit's efficiency not only depends on itself but also on what you bring along with them, hence trying to balance the entire army and it's "combos", rather than units. Taken out of context, its hard to evaluate their actual effectiness.

Secondly, unit vs unit would mean as I understand it to balance guardsmen against tactical marines, eldar guardians, ork boyz, chaos space marines etc at once. Just imagine how awful it'd be to balance the most specialised units according to that principle!

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Actual balance is unit vs unit. Anything else is just lip service to balance.

The more balanced the game, the more bland it would be.

GW is not interested in unit vs unit, and quite honestly neither are the people who play GW games. The desire for non-balance is actually quite high (particularly if our favorite faction happens to also be very strong / OP) because of the principal that the more balanced the units are to each other the more bland the game is.

GW games are more combo centric. They are built on the backbone of collectible card game mechanics only they use models and dice. However the core principals of combos multiplying unit effectiveness and deckbuilding the most efficient combos is what drives both 40k and AOS.

In a unit by unit balancing measure, that type of mechanic could not prosper.

However anything less than unit by unit balancing means you are advocating and supporting a game with a host of false choices and traps, which has been a 40k and aos/whfb reality since the inception of the internet. Often times, an army seems balanced against another army only because 9/10s of either army are ignored for the busted and OP 1/10 of the army.

To me you might as well just strip out the 9/10 of the game if you're going to go in that direction and get rid of the false choices and traps.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/12/31 18:06:55


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On moon miranda.

I think army vs army balance, as opposed to unit vs unit, is the most important...to a point.

Context matters. Different armies have different strengths and weaknesses. What is fine in one army or for one unit can be horrifically broken with another depending on the context. Expecting every unit to be perfectly points balanced with every equivalent from every other force out there will lead to disappointment. That said, this can be overused and some emphasis on the unit v unit consideration given, but the broad look should start army to army.

Faction vs Faction, essentially expanding the Army concept to include multiple armies, is a total disaster because at that point you're basically trying to treat multiple armies as a single army, and they really just arent designed that way, they're operable that way, but not really built around that concept. This is why we see Soup being so powerful as theres lots of things to take advantagr of at this level.

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Unit vs unit, insofar as their value in game for their points.

100pts of guardians don't have to be equal to 100pts of marines in all things, just broadly balanced (weaker but more numerous for instance).

Army vs army balance went out the window with allies.
   
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A mix of faction to faction and army to army, IMO

Sisters shouldn’t have all the tools available to match one to one against craftworld Eldar... but, Necrons vs CSM should be a fair fight.

Unit to unit is more about correctly costing things, less about mechanical balance, so I think that concern should be shelved... with Super Heavies, Knights, etc being the exceptions... where 1 unit/model basically IS the decider in game balance when it is used... then the unit to unit matrix is less about cost and more about rules and abilities in the balance

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 Lobukia wrote:
Sisters shouldn’t have all the tools available to match one to one against craftworld Eldar... but, Necrons vs CSM should be a fair fight.
So you propose that some factions should just be arbitrarily crippled? Why?
   
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Only faction vs faction is important on the table.

Hypothetically, external balance is most important to the game. Even if there were only one “optimal build” for each faction, that would establish a balance baseline to which all units could be balanced to.

If the Imperial faction is balanced against Chaos, Aeldari, Necron, Ork and Tyranid factions, all units / armies can be tweaked to become viable.

Unit vs Unit comparisons fall apart in 40k, due to super-units that don’t care about the differences between an MEQ and a GEQ unit. For example, Tacticals could be balanced against Guardsmen, but a Volcano Cannon treats both units the same. Only # of wounds matters, so the cheaper per wound Guardsmen will always be at an advantage.

So when we return to the tabletop and consider the Imperial Faction, Tacticals need to be “better” than unit vs unit Guardsmen to make them viable, because Lascannons, Plasma Guns, Volcano Cannons all are more points efficient vs Marines.

Which is more of a scale issue than anything else. In our current environment, mid-value stats are less valuable than extreme stats. Lots of little guys trade more favourably against super-guns and those same little guys have the volume of firepower and staying power to interact with Knights.

Mid-range stats are more valuable against low stats, but are effectively equal vs high stats. Hypothetically this could create a rock-papers-scissors interaction but in practice has not. Mixed armies could then thrive. Some parts weak against an extreme army, but others “OP”.

That should be the balance point the game strives for. Encouraging games to be played with mixed forces. Which can be achieved by decreasing the cost of mid-stat units. I can sum that up by saying...

Marines just need to be chee-eeper!
   
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The concept of X points of unit Y vrs X points of unit Z is less about as you believe it to be X points of Y kills 2 marines so X points of Z should do the same.

It's that at some point in the game state Y should be able to beat Z but at another game state Z should be able to beat Y.

The issue is some units in the game just can't be beaten by similar units from any other codex for the points.

The idea that codex A having undercosted troops is ok because codex B has undercosted elites and Codex C has undercosted HQ's and codex D has undercosted heavy support is also broken because the allies rules as they are allow codex A B and C to mix and match without penalty while codex D has to go it solo.

Balance has to be applied at all levels otherwise each codex may aswell just have a single 2k or 1750 point list printed in it thats balanced against every other codex's fixed list as otherwise balancing codex to codex or even worse super faction vrs codex isn't possible.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/12/31 19:30:21


 
   
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Balance should always be calculated between the forces that are used on the table - so army vs army. The effectiveness of an individual unit is always going to depend on the force that it is a part of.

That only works, though, when the armies are self-contained entities. Allies should never have been open-slather, as the moment you grant permission to include whatever you want in your force, any balance goes out the window. To be balanced, the forces need to be structured.

   
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I don’t think allies are an inherently bad thing. I do enjoy the potential to develop a new force while still enjoying a “full size” game.

So, to contrast, I think the restrictions placed on Allies are what make the game imbalanced. If all Armies could ally with any other army, the cherry picking opportunities become available to all.

Fluff murder? Sure. But anyone could come up with a flimsy reason to put a couple of factions together. I’d rather see a flat penalty to allied armies... a 5% points penalty for every faction beyond the first. A two-army list at 1500 points instead has 1425 points to work with. Three factions have 1350. You can build any crazy wombo-combo you want but have fewer points to pull it off with.

Nids and Chaos and Aeldari with an Imperial assassin? Go for it at 15% less points than mono-faction.
   
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Unit to unit would be ideal but due to the core mechanics of 8th, (like 7th but for different reasons), such a balance is nearly impossible. That's because 8th edition is all about cp generation, stratagem usage and making use of auras. With so many outside factors that can boost a unit's performance, unit to unit balance is really hard even if GW actually cared about balancing the game, which they really aren't
   
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It's pretty simple really...the best combos and interactions should be within a units codex - not some other unit in it's faction of allies.

So IMO - the game should be balanced by codex to codex. Codex should have strong and weak points also. For example eldar units should get bonus speed for their cost at the loss of durability - nurge should sacrifice speed for durability and so on. Plus CP shouldn't even be a factor in all of this. All codex should have equal access to CP and all codex should have stratagems as good as the ones coming out in later codex.

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Unit to unit is the only reasonable way to do this. But it doesn't mean everything needs to be the same. Hundred points of Y can do more damage than hundred points of X, if X is commensurately better at something else, such as durability or mobility. Units can have strengths or weakness, but those are more about how they do things. You can't just make some units in the army undercosted because some other units in it are overcosted. This just leads everyone ignoring the overcosted units if at all possible and focus on the undercosted ones.

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A.T. wrote:
 Lobukia wrote:
Sisters shouldn’t have all the tools available to match one to one against craftworld Eldar... but, Necrons vs CSM should be a fair fight.
So you propose that some factions should just be arbitrarily crippled? Why?


Not crippled, but yeah, kinda. Every special snowflake IoM army with a couple dozen units should not be on equal footing with the big, diverse, 60+ unit codices. That’d be dumb.

If you have a play style and a plan that lets you double down on the snowflake’s strength, then yeah, that should be plausibly competitive... but big ‘dexs should have an upper hand due to breadth and depth.

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 Lobukia wrote:
Not crippled, but yeah, kinda. Every special snowflake IoM army with a couple dozen units should not be on equal footing with the big, diverse, 60+ unit codices. That’d be dumb.
Sounds like a faction vs faction balance problem if one has a dozen units and the other has 60+. Ignoring it doesn't fix it.
   
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A.T. wrote:
Sounds like a faction vs faction balance problem if one has a dozen units and the other has 60+. Ignoring it doesn't fix it.

But that's how it is and how it has always been. That's why it is completely silly when people cry that soup has way more choice than monoarmies, because the exact same issue exists between monoarmies too.

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Army to army balance seems the most sensible.

Unit to unit is nice in theory but there are just too many factors for it to be viable. You could have two units that are balanced against one another in a vacuum (and so would be costed the same), yet one performs better because its army has access to more/better buffs, or more efficient transports, or more useful faction rules, or some other aspect that is simply beyond the scope of unit vs. unit balancing.

Not to say that units shouldn't be balanced against one another at all, just that it should be secondary to army vs. army balance.


Ice_can wrote:
The idea that codex A having undercosted troops is ok because codex B has undercosted elites and Codex C has undercosted HQ's and codex D has undercosted heavy support is also broken because the allies rules as they are allow codex A B and C to mix and match without penalty while codex D has to go it solo.


I'd argue that it's not the idea that's broken - it's the ally rules. They are the problem because they allow anyone to just skip the inbuilt weaknesses of their faction by pilfering units from other factions that are strong in that area. e.g. armies that would otherwise be short on CP can simply take a cheap IG or AM Battalion for some extra CPs. Or an army like AM, with weak melee, can just grab some BA or Custodes units and suddenly they're punching with the best of them.

The fact is that people should not be able to cherry-pick units from any allied army at no cost.

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Unit to unit balance isnt a good idea because units can (and should) have wildly different roles.

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 Insectum7 wrote:
Unit to unit balance isnt a good idea because units can (and should) have wildly different roles.

That has nothing to do with it. They can. It is just that a role of a unit shouldn't be that they suck.

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Unit vs Unit is the only real way to balance since soup basically made "army" a meaningless distinction. Balancing by "faction" is also not fair to people who want to stick to mono-codex armies, for example, why should unit X be nerfed just because of units from other codexes that can soup together and make it "broken", when X is not a problem in it's own codex and is fairly priced otherwise.

 vipoid wrote:
The fact is that people should not be able to cherry-pick units from any allied army at no cost.

Except that GW said that it's what they want. So, the only real way to make this work is unit vs unit balance with points being an objective (whatever "objective" means in a game where power is situational) measure of tabletop performance.

This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 2019/01/01 02:30:16


 
   
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well this is a GAME right.

ofc all the factions have different rules to give them flavor.

But to make things fair lets ABSTRACT the game very far.

Lets say ARMY A has 3 HQ 2 Elites, 3 Troops, 2 Fast Attack and 2 Heavy Support.

Then HQ 1 should have skills 1, 2, 3
HQ 2 should have skills 2 3 4
HQ 3 should have skills 1 and 4

go on from there for all the units

Then each and every other ARMY should have a game piece/unit that has a comparable skill set.

So All Fast Attack units will share a set number of skills. So each army may have 1 or 2 unit combinations that other armies wont, but for the most part the toolbox would be the same.

Then you factor in the different Faction and army bonuses and adjust points accordingly.

Would this dumb down the game....possibly. But streamlining of this sort would go a long way to clean up glaring imbalances and make it easier to adjust point and ability costs.

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 Crimson wrote:
 Insectum7 wrote:
Unit to unit balance isnt a good idea because units can (and should) have wildly different roles.

That has nothing to do with it. They can. It is just that a role of a unit shouldn't be that they suck.

I think Insectum is at least partially right.You can't balance "unit anti tank" against "unit anti infantry", or "anti infantry tank" vs "titanic unit", etc. And you can't just look at units and their preferred targets because even if all its units are perfectly costed, a codex full of "anti tank units" won't be great for example, even though on paper its units are "balanced".
Units should absolutely be good at doing something and unless it's part of a weakness/strong point in a faction, similar units should perform similarly though ("similarly" still allows differences, more bodies weaker impact vs less bodies bigger impact, etc). But unless all units are all trying to do everything at once and becomes all more of the same, they will naturally be "imbalanced" as long as the game has such a large scale (from grots to knights). Thus you need to look at a faction against all other factions and then start to tweak if one of its elements becomes too good/bad at its role.

So to not have everything feel the same and still have a game worth playing, it's probably a bit of both unit vs unit and faction vs faction balance that you are aiming at. Which probably, imho, can't hold in the long run due to allies (if you balance faction A with a weakness but it can ally with faction B that cover it with its strong point, your making your task harder).

Edit : Also, to answer the previous post, giving bonuses to some factions against certain types of units or to help them perform better in their chosen field and then adding a point cost to it, doesn't really achieve anything. You just made a bunch of special rules that seem flavorful but doesn't help this faction at all as it's now at the same point it was before the addition of said rules (meaning : it will perform just the same with or without a special rule as you're tweaking the point cost to keep the same expected performance from this unit with or without it). Imho, you WANT some imbalance in a game like this (but it should be covered by flaws/advantages from the faction), otherwise you end up with more of the same every time you add a new unit.

This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 2019/01/01 03:40:14


 
   
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dhallnet wrote:

I think Insectum is at least partially right.You can't balance "unit anti tank" against "unit anti infantry", or "anti infantry tank" vs "titanic unit", etc. And you can't just look at units and their preferred targets because even if all its units are perfectly costed, a codex full of "anti tank units" will be absolutely awful for example, even though on paper its units are "balanced".

Of course when building an army you must include variety of different units to deal with different foes. That has always been the case. Balancing units merely means that thee units pay a fair point cost for the capabilities they actually have.

Units should absolutely be good at doing something and unless it's part of a weakness/strong point in a faction, similar units should perform similarly though ("similarly" still allows differences, more bodies weaker impact vs less bodies bigger impact, etc). But unless all units are all trying to do everything at once and becomes all more of the same, they will naturally be "imbalanced" as long as the game has such a large scale (from grots to knights). Thus you need to look at a faction against all other factions and then start to tweak if one of its elements becomes too good/bad at its role.
Just no. Units doing differnt things do not mean they're imbalanced. As I said earlier it is fine for one hundred point unit do less damage than another, if it is commensurately better in another area, such as mobility or durability. Also, points exist. A grot and a Imperial Knight have very different rules, but the Knight costs a few points more. And factions should not have weaknesses in a sense that their units are overcosted in certain area.

So to not have everything feel the same and still have a game worth playing, it's probably a bit of both unit vs unit and faction vs faction balance that you are aiming at. Which probably, imho, can't hold due to allies in the long run (if you balance faction A with a weakness but it can ally with faction B that cover it with its strong point, your making your task harder).

This is why you need to balance units, not factions. Once units are properly balanced the factions need to be merely balanced in a sense that they all have access to essential tools that are absolutely needed. And this doesn't mean that their units need to be the same. For example, all armies need to have some ability to heal with heavily armoured vehicles, but one faction may have units which deal with them using long ranged firepower while another has units able to punch tanks to death.

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Spoiler:
 Crimson wrote:
dhallnet wrote:

I think Insectum is at least partially right.You can't balance "unit anti tank" against "unit anti infantry", or "anti infantry tank" vs "titanic unit", etc. And you can't just look at units and their preferred targets because even if all its units are perfectly costed, a codex full of "anti tank units" will be absolutely awful for example, even though on paper its units are "balanced".

Of course when building an army you must include variety of different units to deal with different foes. That has always been the case. Balancing units merely means that thee units pay a fair point cost for the capabilities they actually have.

Units should absolutely be good at doing something and unless it's part of a weakness/strong point in a faction, similar units should perform similarly though ("similarly" still allows differences, more bodies weaker impact vs less bodies bigger impact, etc). But unless all units are all trying to do everything at once and becomes all more of the same, they will naturally be "imbalanced" as long as the game has such a large scale (from grots to knights). Thus you need to look at a faction against all other factions and then start to tweak if one of its elements becomes too good/bad at its role.
Just no. Units doing differnt things do not mean they're imbalanced. As I said earlier it is fine for one hundred point unit do less damage than another, if it is commensurately better in another area, such as mobility or durability. Also, points exist. A grot and a Imperial Knight have very different rules, but the Knight costs a few points more. And factions should not have weaknesses in a sense that their units are overcosted in certain area.

So to not have everything feel the same and still have a game worth playing, it's probably a bit of both unit vs unit and faction vs faction balance that you are aiming at. Which probably, imho, can't hold due to allies in the long run (if you balance faction A with a weakness but it can ally with faction B that cover it with its strong point, your making your task harder).

This is why you need to balance units, not factions. Once units are properly balanced the factions need to be merely balanced in a sense that they all have access to essential tools that are absolutely needed. And this doesn't mean that their units need to be the same. For example, all armies need to have some ability to heal with heavily armoured vehicles, but one faction may have units which deal with them using long ranged firepower while another has units able to punch tanks to death.

Of course units should pay a fair cost for what they have, but you can't take one unit and compare it to the entirety of the game (with units having vastly different purposes) and achieve "perfect balance" point wise. Some units will and should always be terrible against some others.
I didn't mean that doing different things is imbalanced, but how do you attribute point cost "fairly" when one unit should stomp on another and aren't created for the same purpose at all ? You can estimate but if they don't even have the same use, what scale are you using to say that they are balanced between each other ? Also it's perfectly fine to have a faction be better at something than another. It's not fine if it's better (or worse) at everything though.
If you design units to be perfectly equal in all scenarios because of allies, you just end up with a "perception" of flavour but in the end, you're just having more of the same unit (for example if a lascannon is as effective as X bolter for it's price against vehicles, then the choice doesn't matter in that context). Dealing with vehicles during close combat or from range IS a point of balance from a faction stand point, and if faction "close combat" can ally with faction "range", you just messed with said balance.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/01/01 04:02:40


 
   
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 Insectum7 wrote:
Unit to unit balance isnt a good idea because units can (and should) have wildly different roles.


Different unit roles doesn't prevent unit to unit balance. But GW has chosen not to do this. So instead, we have 85% false choices and trap units. And units across codices that do not remotely have justifiable costs.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/01/01 03:56:22


 
   
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Balance each list.

In chess both players have the same units....they just will use them differently.

If Marines have a rook...so the tyranids should too and the Tau. If the Eldar has a Bishop....then give Guard a Bishop.

Sure they will be marginally different....but the fault of the inbalanced game IN EVERY edition of 40k has been that each faction/army has a very different balance due to not having the same pieces.

The game has so many details and they try so hard to differentiate each that is spirals out of control.

 koooaei wrote:
We are rolling so many dice to have less time to realise that there is not much else to the game other than rolling so many dice.
 
   
Made in fi
Chaplain with Hate to Spare






dhallnet wrote:

Of course units should pay a fair cost for what they have, but you can't take one unit and compare it to the entirety of the game (with units having vastly different purposes) and achieve "perfect balance" point wise.

That is exactly what you need to do. Of course it will never be perfect in the reality, but that's the goal.

Some units will and should always be terrible against some others.

Of course. And those units which were terrible against that foe should be good against another (or have some other area in which they excell, such as buffing other units.)

I didn't mean that doing different things is imbalanced, but how do you attribute point cost "fairly" when one unit should stomp on another and aren't created for the same purpose at all ? You can estimate but if they don't even have the same use, what scale are you using to say that they are balanced between each other ?
You of course need to consider the different areas in which unit can excel and make sure the unit excels in some of them appropriately for their cost.

Also it's perfectly fine to have a faction be better at something than another.

Yes. Because 'balanced' doesn't mean 'same.'

If you design units to be perfectly equal in all scenarios because of allies, you just end up with a "perception" of flavour but in the end, you're just having more of the same unit. Dealing with vehicles during close combat or from range IS a point of balance from a faction stand point, and if faction "close combat" can ally with faction "range", you just messed with said balance.

No. Because points actually exist. If units are properly balanced it doesn't matter if you take four units that shoot tanks to death or four units that punch tanks to death or two units that shoot tanks to death and two that punch them to death. Of course each set of units plays differently and you need to use differnt tactics with them, and that's the flavour, but ultimately they kill tanks. And BTW, you can't have a faction whose weakness is that they're bad at killing tanks, that just would mean that it would be possible to build an army they cannot deal with.

Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane. 
   
 
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