Currently, Grenadier is still a very niche unit. I don’t see anyone using them. And I rarely use them myself outside of sealing a victory in an all-out Age 2 attack (more as a joke unit). This is due to a few reasons:
- They get countered by a lot of units.
- Light infantry can outrange them, meaning Grenadiers cannot do any damage in return. Once light infantry get CI Rifling, their 50% resistance does not matter that much either.
- Grenadiers have melee penalties against cavalry and shock infantry, so their impressive melee damage is useless here.
- Most artillery (i.e. falconet) can one-shot them.
This unit has counters in the barrack, stable, and foundry. If the enemy has any military production, grenadiers are pretty much unviable. The only other unit class with this many counters is melee heavy infantry (which is also seldom used past Age 2).
- Their siege attack is mediocre pop-efficiency-wise and resource-efficiency-wise.
- Two Pikeman/Halberdier can inflict higher siege attacks and ward off cavalry. In fact, two musketeers inflict about the same amount of siege attack (2*20) as a single grenadier (41).
- Artillery can attack buildings outside of light infantry range. Grenadiers cannot do that with their 12-range siege.
- Grenadier improvement cards/techs have questionable value in most games.
- Grenade Launcher Card: This card is necessary to make Grenadiers viable by removing the delay animation and adding a range buff. However, many other more useful cards in Age 3 should be prioritized, such as the 2 Falconet, Fort, 1000 resources, X units shipment, etc. (By the way, did they ever fix the bug where Ransack Card (Russia) does not work properly with Grenade Launcher?)
- Improved Grenades Card (British): This is only useful if you have made plenty of grenadiers. But why would you?
- Incendiary Grenade Tech: The most expensive tech ## ### ####### (400 wood, 300 gold) only provides +15% siege and +1 area-of-effect only for the grenadier unit? This tech is very overpriced. For comparison, check the CI Rifling tech (200 wood, 200 gold), which makes light infantry 50% better against heavy infantry.
So how to buff Grenadiers (without making them the new Soldado)?
- Grenadiers need a buff to their siege. At the minimum, a single grenadier needs to deal inflict a significantly higher siege than two musketeers. Otherwise, there is no point in creating them. (However, their siege can be lower than two halberdiers.)
- From Age III and onwards, Grenadiers need to be able to barely survive a direct falconet (maybe even horse artillery) shot of the equivalent level. This can be done by giving them an appropriate siege resistance.
- Grenadiers need to have 4.5 speed. They need to be able to disengage from 4-speed infantry (musketeer, skirmisher) and not get decisively hunted down by 4.5-speed infantry (cassador, ashigaru).
- Grenadiers should deal 2x damage vs artillery. Grenadiers need a purpose in combat (aside from fighting against musketeers crowds, which falconets can do better anyways). I think they should fulfill a short-ranged “foot culverin” role. Under perfect play, falconet should still beat Grenadiers. However, it forces the Falconets to behave more defensively, which slightly reduces the oppressiveness of some Fast Fortress strategies.
- Incendiary Grenade Tech and Grenade Launcher Card need to be reworked. The former need to be far cheaper and add more siege damage. The latter could simply remove the delay animation without increasing the Grenadier range (given that the previous changes are made).
This way, we have a unit that is still weak to heavy cavalry, light infantry, and artillery but can opportunistically counter enemy artillery and do good siege against buildings. This makes musk+grenade potentially viable in situations where musk+skirm (enemy has artillery) or musk+hussar (enemy has good anti cav) fails.
The devs actually got the balancing right once before. If you are wondering, I just described the Humbaraci.