I am in what I call “mid-elo”, although it’s still top 10, maybe top 5% of players, and in my elo it’s incredibly common to all-in Castle age Knights. I always go random, which ends up in me having a Xbow civ most of the time (there is a general consensus Xbow is harder to play than Knights). As a result, I need to be incredibly careful with army positioning, often Xbow civs like to 3 TC boom as 1 TC all-in is harder with Xbow civ than with a Knight civ. My opponent is 90% of the time some Franks/Berbers/Mongols player who all ins with Knights and as soon as he sees I am on 15 Xbow, he does +2 armor. +2 armor Knights stomp pure Xbow, but I am not a total noob and get the hint I should add a secondary unit.
Generally, this unit is Monks in early Castle age, and Pikemen later on.
The problem is that people at my elo have enough micro to not run into Pikemen, and I think overall even in mid Castle age, Pikemen are a BAD unit (in early Castle age it’s unanimously agreed they are, but I would like to argue in mid Castle, too). I do the “textbook play” of Monks into Pikemen if I see overwhelming amount of Knights, but I end up making it an even game at best. People just run away from my Pikes and switch into Mangudai or something.
Possible points to improve:
wall better: is it important as an archer civ to wall HARD? I am generally not a super strong waller, I wall to a degree but I like to defend with army more. As a cav civ, it generally isn’t important to wall, but on Archers, I generally get holes as soon as my woodlines run dry. These holes generally can lose me the game. Should I devote more attention to that?
Imp timing: generally Xbow civs win with timings vs Knight civs. The problem is that my macro isn’t always on point. You need to have precise eco management to afford Arbalest, Chemistry, University, a Castle and a few Trebs as soon as you hit Imp. The time window is there but it’s not big, and I’m not sure the Arbalest nerf was needed to begin with, because you often struggle to afford all upgrades even with some 80-90 vills (you need Arbalest, Bracer, Ballistics, Thumb Ring, Chemistry, a Castle and at least 2 Trebs to support your Castle Age Xbow mass). The list is long and I’m not sure it’s very feasible to afford everything. Meanwhile Knight player just has to run around, look for holes and seed farms. Seems a fairly easier macro cycle than Xbow civ one.
upgrades on Pikemen: do they matter in mass fights? Often I have a fight like 15 Knights vs 15 Xbow and 10 Pikemen, I feel this is a favorable fight for me but I end up winning it only narrowly. Could getting Pikeman upgrades make a difference here?
Monks: here I am often greedy and like to snag 1-2 relics as soon as I hit Castle age, with Xbow civ my standard play is to make 2 TCs and a Monastery right away. Should I delay the Relics thing to keep Monks at home and help defend? Is dropping 2x Monastery possibly ever worth it vs a guy who does +2 Knights right away?
Feel free to address my points but also to suggest your own, I would like to improve this aspect of my gameplay because I like going random civ and not 1 tricking something like Franks which I’m sure would boost my elo by 200-300, but I feel beating +2 Knight spammer is the biggest hurdle to me climbing atm.