Everything about the grenade (GN) flag runs absolutely against the principle of intelligent play. Worse and more universally, GN runs against the tradition of unavoidable death that makes bzflag fun.
First, skill—GN is a lame munchkin flag that requires next to none:
- Shoot once, sending a tracer toward the general vicinity of your target
- Shoot again to blow them up
It's true that timing matters, and stuff like driving forward while firing the tracer makes it even less dodgeable. I hesitate to allow such enhancements to be separate "tactics", and very few of us use them systematically anyway because the basic "click to delete player" usage remains so effective unmodified.
GN is so overpowered it actually allows one to compensate for lack of skill. How often, for example, have you forced GN players to jump ineffectually, only to get scragged by their GN while they're flailing about in the air?
Most flags have a "hard counter", which nullifies the flag's advantage. L is hard-countered by CL, GM with ST, PZ with SB, ST and MQ with SE, WG with GM, etc. Most flags also have "soft counters"—witness ST's effectiveness vs. L, GM camping countered by SW, WG taken out by awesome L ricos, etc.
SW itself has always been weird since SW lacks any clear hard counter. For soft counters, you can run away with V or A, pick it off from afar with L, sneak up with ST, etc.—but there isn't a clear hard counter.
But GN? GN takes that deficiency and turns it up to 11. GN is usually stronger than L, because GN doesn't care about vertical level. GN's fast tracer negates V or A. ST can't sneak up easily since SW positions can be projected anywhere. I.e., not only does GN lack any hard counter, it doesn't have credible soft counters either!
But being lame isn't even the real problem. Worse is that GN subverts our cherished death-is-avoidable tradition, removing one of the best gameplay design features of bz.
When you see a GN tracer coming toward you, you have about 1/4 second to live, and realistically the best use of your time is to start typing "ow", "aaa", or whatever you say when you die. You can try to run off on one side and hope, but with most configurations, even with perfect play, survival is actually just impossible. Both tracer and shockwave travel through buildings, rendering cover pointless—and indeed, an obstacle. No amount of skill will save you.
(Majorly) nerfing various aspects of GN could mitigate the stupidity, but it's still fundamentally undodgeable and uncounterable. Moreover, map designers deliberately make GN's initial shockwave radius really big and GN's expansion rate faster than you can run, so one feels like any hope one has of GN being less asinine is being spited actively anyway!
Flags are supposed to "boost/modulate tactical trait[s]" and "require new skills". Flag power "must be limited" and "should not be overpowering". Flag powers should "balance each other". "All[-]powerful flags aren't fun." GN violates literally every one of those guidelines, and more.
Everything bad I've just complained about actually manifests exactly that bad in practice!
Anyone can see that GN directly causes mass spawnkilling—universally acknowledged to be the literal worst thing for gameplay fun, short of actual cheating. You can't counter GN because there is no effective counter, and it's moot anyway since your whole team will be too busy being repeatedly spawnkilled to actually pick up any flag. Fun is restored only when ammo is exhausted; feeding the GN free kills being frequently the only way that happens.
There's little challenge for the attacker and little chance for the defender. It's a nigh-undodgeable munchkin flag that violates core flag design of bzflag gameplay. There's no skill, it has awesomely overpowered power, and it has no counterbalance. While perhaps marginally fun for the attacker, GN is intensely unfun for everyone else. GN disrupts gameplay and serves no unique purpose.
GN was an interesting experiment, and it was not bad that GN was invented per-se. I welcome innovation, and there have been several really cool new flags that have been implemented of late. But GN? That experiment IMO has now concluded. GN needs to die.
I call on mapmakers and server owners . . . I beg of you—get rid of this flag!