If you want to discuss about Soviet viability in 3v3/4v4 (pre- or post-)WBP, please make a separate thread, and I'll join that thread to enumerate the reasons why Soviet late-game feels so lacklustre in those modes.
Until then, I'll have to stick to my principles and not derail the thread
Thread started :-)
SOV are strong in in short 1v1 but perform poorly in longer team games. This is more than just a feeling and data to support this can been seen on CoHCharts.
I've very concerned about 1.9 WBP Penals as I feel they make the situation worse.
With this in mind, I think that with the WBP Penals need their upgrade delayed rather than nerfed. The complete removal of the (AI) upgrade seems overkill and also implies that only short games are being considered for balance which is problematic for those of us who regularly play long team games.
My suggestion in order to keep SOV infantry viable into the late game but is to:
SVT-38 would basically be identical to SVT-40 with their long range significantly reduced. The idea being that when upgrading to the flamethrower, they lose their all-range flexibility - concentrating their damage output on the mid range.
This opens a spot for long range Guards late game and also doesn't clash with short-range fire-on-the-move Shocks.
The SVT-38 would not require any new art assets but just be mentioned in the flavour text to avoid having single weapons have multiple profiles depending on who picks them up (this is terrible! Especially for newbies).
The lock behind Molitov take significant fuel which delays the very vital T3 making it a meaningful choice. Delaying T3 for only Molitov on Cons is a no brainer - don't do it! But with a useful upgrade attached to it? That's not so obvious.
As for the thorny issue of PTRS, I'm not going to add too much here other than to reiterate what I've mentioned earlier: All factions, SOV included, need the basic tools (AI and AT inf upgrades) in their stock lineup. That said, I don't like Penals being the go-to squad for everything and think Cons upgrading to PTRS makes much more sense.
However, as that is currently out of scope, I'd consider leaving the PTRS out completely until a patch in which Cons can be considered to. They two units need to work in complement/synergy with one another and trying achieve synergy when you can only balance half of the equation is problematic. Yes, that would mean that diversity by removing reliance on Guards for PTRS would also be delayed. But, that may be preferable than rushing a change that may not be the best long term solution.
If there is no intention of giving Cons PTRS at any point, then yes, give a either-or PTRS/Flame upgrade to Penals as I do believe the faction needs them. But this would not be my first choice.
As always, just my $0.02
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