To get the ball rolling on the Commander issue, it may help to start right now changing how the community looks at the Commander unit. Bringing them to the forefront of theater roles, doing what we can to make them more useful to all, in campaign and multiplayer alike, is what I view as the best way to do so.
Forgive me if my ideas are a bit too radical, but I'm not used to considering the desires and opinions of an entire community. What modding I've done in the past has been frankensteining pieces of other ideas together to make fun toys for myself in such games as Cortex Command and Dwarf Fortress. I will leave it to those of you more experienced in such consideration to determine at what rate we might accelerate along any paths chosen.
# - Removing or greatly increasing the unit cap is an excellent idea. It could be based on a much longer scale than the standard experience ranks, so that you could still have a fresh Commander be limited in its command capacity, but after some time in the field, grow to command 50+ units at once, which would find more use in the longer-term, I believe.
# - If not taking them to the full, stupendous scale of a Mk. XXX Bolo, the Commanders should still be the toughest things on the battlefield. Consider that they will eventually be following generalized battle orders and choosing harrassment or strike targets independent of the player's attention, meaning all at the same time. That, plus the large numbers of land and air units they will be coordinating will make them popular targets. They should be able to singlehandedly best three or four MBTs, and survive a few strikes from the heaviest artillery and still limp away to a Repair Facility.
This will be balanced as follows.
# - In their central role, as I envision it, they must also be more exclusive. No army should be able to field more than three or four of these beasts in a given engagement. The logistical chain would strain to the breaking point, not only repairing them and feeding their cannons, but the staff required at HQ and the CRC to maintain strategic momentum for such massive battalions. Once we reach the long-term phase, the CRC should either be larger, and/or more expensive.
The Command Bolos
should be more than worth the added trouble by that time.
tl;dr - For the short term:
- Increase the unit cap, and ramp up the gains per level.
- Make the Command Turret tougher, and take the idea someone mentioned regarding twin turret hulls for these guys, or beef up the weapon.
- Limit each team to a small handful of Commanders, to balance their tremendous capabilities, and entice players to use them to coordinate large battlegroups in theater.
Hope this is what you were asking for. I look forward to responses to this, as I need to gauge what you are all looking for.
P.S. - The CRC could be where Commander experience is stored, if that becomes an accepted idea. It really should be tied into every aspect of these guys' survival.