The following started as a list of changes I’d like to see the devs make to AoE2 and has since turned into three separate sets of ideas:
A plan for the next DLC
Miscellaneous changes to existing civs or other aspects of the game
For the sake of manageability and organization, I’ve presented each of these sections in a separate thread, rather than together, but please note that they were originally written in the order just given and that in the second and third sections, I may reference previous sections. I apologize for any tedium which may ensue from this; I recorded these ideas a few weeks ago (had trouble making an account on this forum for some reason and had to get in touch with support), and besides the fact that I’m therefore less than enthusiastic about revising the text to make each section stand independently of the others, this would involve a lot of restating which could prove tedious in its own right.
EDIT, approximately 1800 EST 15.10.: Adjusted the formatting, added links to the other threads.
A few short remarks:
First, none of this is very structured, and for that I apologize, but I don’t really have the time or the inclination to create a polished set of proposals – I just thought someone might be interested in one or other of the ideas outlined below. Apologies also for a corresponding scarcity of formatting. This is my first post and I’m not sure if this forum offers things like accordion boxes, or how to access them, if it does.
Second, I recognize that the devs may well already have decided on civs for the coming DLC, and also that many of the suggestions in the third section are, for various reasons, probably pie-in-the-sky. When drafting these proposals, I only considered on a very limited level the likelihood of their being introduced (the creation of new unique units to replace boring ones, for example, is something I do not expect to see carried out). This began as an exercise for my own benefit, merely to consider what I like and dislike about the game; its expansion into a set of recommendations was more or less incidental.
Third, as indicated by both of the remarks just made, the concept for the following texts has changed over time. Originally, this was merely intended to be a bulleted list. Then, as I set about speculating further, justifying some of my proposals etc., it transcended that format. Only subsequently did I decide to post any of this, and so on – the point being that the following has to be read as a set of revisions layered over one another, each representing a turn towards a new goal or principle.
Fourth, I should clarify that while I play a fair amount of AoE, I have never been active in fora related to the game, and I therefore have no idea whether proposals like this have been made before. If any of the following bears any similarity to anything hitherto posted, it is coincidental and not an attempt to steal anyone’s ideas.
Proposal for DLC – Mainland East Asia
To begin with, a couple of notes: First, these proposals are pretty bare-bones – I don’t explicitly explain the kinds of strategies that I envision for each civ, nor do I draw special attention to various strengths and weaknesses that are the logical consequence of, say, their respective tech trees (the Khas, for example, would have access to every stable unit except the Steppe Lancer, and I note that in their example profile, but I don’t write anything regarding the implications of this flexibility). Second, and as already noted above, the following is relatively unstructured and speculative; I am not especially knowledgeable about any of these civilizations, and I am not so much proposing fixed, final versions of these civs as providing a set of ideas that might serve as inspiration (though in the interest of summarizing those ideas and not leaving them totally diffuse, I do provide an example civ profile at the end of each description).
Like many others, I am assuming that the next – possibly the final – AoE2 expansion/DLC will offer three new civs so that we are left with five even rows of nine in the civ-icon-grid. One way to do this would be to implement anew the model used for Dynasties of India, i.e provide four civs, one of which is a revised version of an existing civ. Following this pattern, therefore, the civ hitherto named the Chinese would become the Han, while the Jurchen, Khas and Tibetan civs would be added to the game. (In terms of modern states/provinces, more or less: Manchuria, Nepal and Tibet.)
The expansion would introduce two regional siege units: the Hwacha or Wasps’ Nest and the Siege Tower (yes, I know that’s already a unit in the game – bear with me).
The Hwacha or Wasps’ Nest would represent East Asian rocketry (as it happens, I’m told that a unit like this is already included in AoE4, so while I’m leery of respecting cross-game precedents – I confess to be something of an Age II diehard –, the idea is not new to the franchise, and thus perhaps not so far-fetched). This unit would be available to the Han (formerly Chinese), Jurchen and Koreans. One could also make a historical argument for including the Mongols in this list, but from a balance-and-mechanics standpoint this might prove inadvisable since they already have another regional unit, the Steppe Lancer, and are generally accounted such a strong civ.
For the sake of consistency and brevity, I’ll call this unit the Hwacha throughout the following. That is not intended to signal any preference of name on my part, I’ve merely chosen the shorter of the proposed names as a matter of convenience.
The most obvious existing analogue for this new unit would presumably be the Portuguese Organ Gun. The Hwacha 1. could have a slightly lower HP total and 2. lower mêlée armor than the Organ Gun but 3. would distribute its damage more evenly across the multiple projectiles it fires, which might include 4. a small amount of splash damage dealt by each projectile (with a correspondingly modest radius). The Hwacha could also deal some bonus damage against buildings, an intuitive strength given the incendiary character of the rockets, and for the same reason, it would likely deal bonus damage to rams, as well (which would be on-theme, since the Chu Ko Nu also fares relatively well against these). A minimum range would be appropriate. Taken together, this would mean that the Hwacha would prove distinctly more effective against buildings than the Scorpion, and maybe a bit more so than the Mangonel-line too, while also performing well as an antipersonnel weapon. The price of this versatility would be a lack of specialization: Rams would still be far more effective against buildings (both in terms of damage output and resistance to arrows), while the Mangonel-line in particular would remain a superior counter versus archers.
Like the Scorpion, the Hwacha would have a “Heavy” or “Elite” upgrade.
The second siege unit to be introduced here is the Siege Tower, which may sound confusing at first, since a unit by this name already exists. This existing unit would be removed from the game to accommodate the new one, which would combine the wall-surmounting ability of its predecessor with the garrison space of a ram and an anti-building attack like a ram’s, as well (but slightly weaker). The new unit would move as quickly or perhaps a bit more slowly than the old Siege Tower unit, and whenever archers were garrisoned inside of it, the player could toggle between the unit’s aforementioned mêlée attack and arrows shot by the garrisoned archers (if the archers were ungarrisoned while the ranged attack was selected, the unit would automatically revert to its anti-building attack).
This revised Siege Tower would be available to the Persians, Tatars and Tibetans. From a historically-oriented perspective, Saracens and Turks would probably also be suitable candidates, but thematically this seems inappropriate since the Turks are more focussed on gunpowder and the Saracens have lately gained an emphasis on ranged siege through their Counterweights unique tech (admittedly the Siege Tower also technically has a ranged attack, but it’s obviously not a siege attack in the proper sense).
The Siege Tower would replace the ram-line at the Siege Workshop for all of these civs. Unlike the ram but like the Siege Elephant, the Siege Tower would only have one upgrade, not two.
In summary, then, the only newly introduced civ not to receive one of these special siege units would be the Khas. Three civs otherwise unaffected by the expansion would receive one of them (namely the Koreans, Persians and Tatars), while the Han, both an old and a new civ in a sense, would receive one, as well.
On to the concepts for the civs:
The Chinese/Han are well-designed in almost every regard. One obviously necessary adjustment, given the introduction of the Hwacha (see above), would be the modification of their Rocketry unique technology in one of the following three ways: 1. expanding the tech to include the Hwacha (presumably at +4 like the Scorpion rather than +2 like the CKN), 2. standardizing the provided bonus for all three affected units at +2 (thereby effectively splitting the Scorpion’s bonus between it and the Hwacha) or 3. applying the +4 bonus to the Hwacha but no longer to the Scorpion. This is more of a balance question than anything else; thematically, any of these solutions would seem perfectly appropriate (I decline to speculate here on changing the cost of the tech, but needless to say this could factor in, as well).
It is unreasonable that Han/Chinese Town Centers provide extra population room. The logic would seem to be that this is a civ that was very populous historically and had unusually large cities, but it was, after all, also a largely settled, rather than nomadic society, so wouldn’t it make sense that you still need to build as many houses as everybody else? Maybe in AoK the devs also thought it appropriate to provide the extra population space because of the augmented number of starting units, but if that’s the only relevant logic here, the Mayans should benefit from a similar bonus.
I thus propose that this rule be replaced by an absolute +5 increase to their population limit at all times (the abolished concept of more spacious TC would be recycled as a Tibetan civ bonus – see below). This way, their start remains identical (including their lower amount of starting wood). In exchange for losing the potential to more rapidly increase their population capacity during the mid-game (since all TC after the first will no longer provide the extra five pop. space), they would receive the late-game benefit of the absolute +5 increase just mentioned (since in a standard game this now means a population limit of 205 instead of 200) as well as the Hwacha (with the additional possibility of giving slightly more bang-for-buck with Rocketry, e.g. by extending the Scorpion’s +4 bonus to the Hwacha without increasing the cost of the tech).
On a much more peripheral note, I have also long been perplexed by the fact that the inventors of gunpowder do not get the Hand Cannoneer. Maybe there’s some balance consideration here that I’m not seeing, but at present I’m for changing this. (The argument against applying similar logic to the Bombard Cannon I can understand, and anyway the introduction of the Hwacha would presumably resolve any thematic awkwardness in this regard.)
The main themes that immediately come to mind for the Jurchen are their nomadism, the strength of their cavalry, the fact that they apparently built a few sections of the Great Wall and their variable status relative to other peoples in their region (sometimes entering into ########## sometimes enjoying the status of ruling caste).
-Many of the obvious ways to represent their (semi-)nomadism have already been applied to other civs: faster villagers (Berbers), better hunting (Goths, Mongols), not needing to build houses (Huns), being able to build a second TC during the Feudal Age (Cumans). New ideas might include: 1. a powerful hunting bonus that would enable hunters to gather food as Khmer farmers do, i.e. at a trickle without having to drop it off, 2. the application of this same principle to shore-fishing (plainly a vastly weaker bonus), 3. decreasing the stone cost of their TC markedly, e.g. by 75% (currently Bulgarians get a 50% discount and Incas, a 15% discount that applies to all other buildings, as well), 4. letting the Jurchen build an Archery Range of Stable without having to build a Barracks first or 5. a substantial improvement to the creation time of drop-sites other than TC, e.g. +100%. A final suggestion, less evocative of nomadism but at least relevant to hunting, would be to give villagers extra armor against animals (perhaps a suitable team bonus).
A late-game mechanic paying homage to their raid-and-trade nomadism would be to effectively apply the Keshik’s special gold trickle ability to all of their units, but only under certain conditions, e.g. if attacking a building or if attacking an economic unit. (To be clear, I do not see this as a feasible replacement for an early- and mid-game nomad-themed bonus, merely as an additional option.)
-The Jurchen should also be the fourth civ to get Steppe Lancers, and they should have at least one special feature that pertains to these – for instance, a civ bonus or unique technology could grant their Steppe Lancers a charge bonus like that of the Burgundian Coustillier or the Dravidian Urumi, and this bonus/technology could also apply to their unique unit (see below); really, this sort of bonus feels more suitable for a raiding civ than one like the Burgundians, if one considers how it’s generally been used in AoE2 gameplay. A bonus like this would be a nice thematic inversion vis-à-vis a similar civ, the Tatars, that improves the armor of most of its cavalry, rather than their attack (Silk Armor unique tech). If desired, this ability could be somewhat distinct from the Coustillier’s damage boost by being usable at any increment – i.e. if the attack is 20% recharged from last use and the Jurchen unit attacks, it deals that 20% of the full charge, rather than dealing normal damage and continuing to recharge. In a sustained mêlée, therefore, this would mean that the Steppe Lancer would simply be dealing a little more damage with each attack, or perhaps every second attack, depending upon the (re)charging speed, rather than dealing one big hit followed by a series of normal ones.
Otherwise, creation time, HP and speed of Steppe Lancers are also all the objects of various civ bonuses and techs, and to further augment their attack – e.g. higher rate of fire – would be silly if another ability were already effectively improving damage dealt per second. Perhaps their creation cost could be decreased.
Another emphasis on cavalry would derive from their mounted unique unit – see below. More generally, they could receive a small bonus to cavalry attack in Castle and Imperial Age, e.g. +1/+2 (mirroring the Teutons’ mêlée armor bonus somewhat, though admittedly the latter only applies to the Knight-line).
-The Jurchen also seem to have built parts of the Great Wall of China, which could be the inspiration for a civ bonus or unique technology, but of course the Great Wall unique technology already exists in the game (Chinese/Han). One possibility would be to directly acknowledge the more minor role that the Jurchen played by giving them a civ bonus comprising exactly half of the benefit of the Chinese ability, i.e. 15% more HP for walls and towers (they could also lack Arrowslits or Keep to underscore that their contributions were auxiliary). This bonus could also be staggered, i.e. 10% in Feudal, 15% in Castle and 20% in Imperial Age. Alternatively, they could be able to construct Palisade Walls, Stone Walls and Towers more quickly.
-In AoE2, civs designed rather like the Jurchen (e.g. Huns, Mongols) consistently have siege-related bonuses, and ones specifically augmented siege weapons’ mobility make especially good sense, since the siege engines can then do a better job of keeping up with the cavalry; we might call these “mounted-raiders-into-conquerors” civs. The Jurchen are already receiving the Hwacha (see above), but they might additionally receive a speed increase to this and the Scorpion as a civ bonus (e.g. +10% in Castle, +15% in Imperial Age). Potentially this could even be expanded to include the Mangonel-line.
-Finally, before considering their unique unit, I want to propose a civ bonus that I fully acknowledge is extremely whimsical, that competitive players in particular might detest and that I am myself not especially convinced of, but that I thought it would just be fun to throw out there (maybe for use in a campaign scenario, in adapted form?): Every time the Jurchen destroy a building other than a house or non-TC drop-site, there is a chance that they will steal a technology which the controller of that building has researched, but the Jurchen player has not yet (this would be limited to techs that the Jurchen can research, and which age they were in would matter here). The chance begins very low, but rises for each subsequent building destroyed. Only one technology can be acquired in this way; after that, the bonus goes dormant, so to speak, for the remainder of the game. As for whether the pool of technologies that will potentially be stolen is somehow narrowed by circumstance, there must be dozens of ways to adjust this, depending on preference and balance considerations; e.g. if a Barracks is destroyed, it could be proportionally more likely that the Jurchen gain either a technology that can be researched there or an infantry-related Blacksmith technology.
I recognize that players playing against the Jurchen would start deleting buildings to avoid this. On the one hand, this could be fixed by tweaking the concept so that the chance to steal a tech triggers every time a certain aggregate of damage has been dealt to enemy buildings, rather than every time a building is destroyed. On the other, though, I’m not sure that this would need to be changed – if players start doing this, it means one of two things: they are either effectively granting the Jurchen units extra damage, by deleting a building that still had a decent chunk of its HP, or they are wasting valuable seconds hovering over a building, trying to delete it as late as possible. Either way, I’m not sure I’d mind, as the Jurchen player.
-The Jurchen unique unit would be heavy mêlée cavalry that costs gold and food. Nomenclature is a bit tricky here, since “cataphract” is already taken; maybe there’s a more regionally specific word for this type of soldier, I’m not sure.
The obvious question with this type of unit is always: How do they compare to the Knight-line, what sets them apart? In the case of the Jurchen, 1. the unit would be faster – speed 1.4 or higher –, 2. its attack would be proportionally weaker than a Knight’s (i.e. relative to cost), but in exchange, 3. it would deal a small amount of trample or pass-through spear-thrust damage (rather like the Ghulam, in the latter case). Potentially, the latter idea could be refined further, e.g. if the unit could toggle between a lance and a haft mêlée weapon, i.e. between a pass-through thrust attack and a more concentrated attack aimed at a single unit (I make the same suggestion for an alternative Polish unique unit, below). The same principle could perhaps also be introduced without the need to manually toggle, i.e. every time the unit attacked, it would check to see if it would hit anything behind the unit directly in front of it; if yes, it would make the pass-through attack, splitting its damage between two units, but if no, it would deal full damage to the one unit in front of it. This could be accompanied by distinct animations, e.g. a bold, forceful thrust in the former case versus the unit’s horse rearing and the rider making a shorter stab in the latter.
A small amount of extra cavalry armor could also be a nice thematic nod to the unit’s cousin already present in the game, namely the aforementioned (Byzantine) Cataphract – this could be +6 for the regular version, +12 for élite or something similar, so that a generic camel de facto deals one-third its usual bonus damage in each of these ages. They should still be pretty vulnerable to conversion, however.
Example profile for the Jurchen
Strengths: Cavalry, Siege
Weaknesses: Infantry, Navy
-Hunters do not need to drop off food (accumulates as trickle)
-Starting in Feudal Age, walls and towers have 15% more HP (alternatively: staggered 10-15-20)
- If the above bonus were to be retracted, something pertaining to cavalry would seem most appropriate – see my suggestions, above. *
-Hwacha (see above), Mangonel-line and Scorpions move 10% faster in Castle, 15% faster in Imperial Age
-CA UT: UU and Steppe Lancers gain rechargeable damage boost (or just extra attack)
-IA UT: Units attacking enemy buildings generate gold trickle (alternatively: attacking enemy economic units)
-UU: Heavy mêlée cavalry that costs food and gold; fast, has extra cavalry armor, attacks two units in a row when able and otherwise makes a single, concentrated attack
Team Bonus: Villagers take less damage from animals
Notes on tech tree:
-Includes Hand Cannoneer and fully upgraded Cavalry Archers
-Overall bad options for infantry (e.g. lacking Supplies, Halberdier, final armor upgrade – possibly even all but first armor upgrade)
-No Paladin, includes camels and Steppe Lancer
-No Siege Ram or Siege Onager but includes the Hwacha (see below)
-Lacks almost all final upgrades at Dock (Galleon presumably the exception) but does include Cannon Galleon; maybe no Shipwright, either
-No Heresy or Sanctity (possibly lacks an additional upgrade or two at the Monastery)
-Lacks Hoardings, Architecture, Arrowslits, Treadmill Crane
-No Gold Shaft Mining, no Crop Rotation, no Guilds