Idea for Better Machina Mechanic
I feel like that the current mechanic for Machina is way too random and frustrating since it's not predictable. I propose a few rules that may make for a better Machina bot.
One: Initial Machina cluster currently starts with a Portal at Level 1. After some time, they link to a random neutral and grow that way. Instead, initial Machina portal starts with one Level 8 resonator and for a while, deploys more one by one until it is fully deployed. When it is fully deployed, it throws a link to the nearest neutral.
Two: Any neutral that was captured by link will be one level lower than the Machina that threw to it. By previous rule, the initial Machina will be Level 8 (it deploys more Level 8 reso over time). Any neutral it captures will have one Level 7 resonator, and get more at the same level over time. Once fully powered, it will be Level 7. When those Level 7s link, the new portals will be Level 6 when fully captured. Cycle continues.
Three: Have a link limit according to Machina Portal level. We can only deploy one Level 8 resonator, say a Machina Level 8 can throw only one link. This does mean that Machina Level 1s can throw eight according to this though. However, finetuning is part of the process.
I'll be honest, writing all of this down, I do think there is a way to make Machina a lot better by changing one thing: make them HEAVILY prioritize closer neutrals! From the way I see it: they should spread by proximity, not randomness. I do want to hear your thoughts though and hope I am not shouting into the void.