Ok i wanna say something about 2 Things:
1: New Maps and why i dislike the way it is going
2: Why Longsword buff is a nice idear but doesnt touch their main Problem.
(Also my 1v1 Elo is between 1600-1700 normaly for context. Games play out differently on different Elos after all)
1: New Maps and why I dislike the way it is going:
If we look at the discribtion of all new Maps then most of these maps have a something like “Walling is hard, you need active Military”.
I dont think having open Maps is a problem, and we need some, but lately all new Maps are very Open, which gets out of Balance.
The nice thing about AoE2 was always the diversity. You had Arabia (old Arabia) which was kinda a middle ground Map. Arabia was open, but Wallable, you could play agressive, defensive and so on. you could do it all.
Then there were Super closed Maps like Arena and Fortress, or even Blackforest which are so closed that there is normaly no agression until Castle Age.
Then there were super agressive maps like Socotra, Acropolis and so on in which it was very hard to wall your resources and you had to go for a lot of Feudal age Military.
And then there are maps in between like Semi closed maps like Four Lakes or Hideout, where you can go more agressive like on Arena, but still normaly not all in Feudal, and semi open maps like Valley or african clearing, where you have some neutral resources to fight over in the middle, but still can wall your main base (so you need some Feudal Military to defend these neutral Res, but still can play more defensive around fast Castle as well).
Nowadays it seems like everything new is just Open or semi open, even the Middle ground map itself (Arabia) got made into a semi open Map with the woodlines and third Gold moved far away and also Map pools often dont have a good balance of Maps.
I understand that some people enjoy open maps more then closed ones, but in the same way some people enjoy closed ones more then open ones.
Thats because some people like Feudal agression and Feudal age the most, while others like to play lategame Games with stressfull Post Imp fights. But if the Map pool only has maps that are designed to be decided in Feudal age, then the Game loses an important Balance and becomes to one sided.
After all the Game has 4 Ages, and all 4 Ages should be equally relevant, which is why we should have Maps and Maps Pools which equally support Feudal Age al ins as well as more macro focused Gameplay which results in Imperial Games.
I would love if we get some more semi closed maps again like we did in the past with maps like four lakes or Hideout and not only open ones.
Also maybe design your map pool in a way that the map pool always has to have: Arabia, Arena, 1 Water map like islands, 1 (semi-) open Map, 1 (semi-) closed Map and then the rest can be voted on.
This way we have the standard maps (arabia; Arena), at least 1 for the agressive as well as Macro Players, and the rest is up to Votes. Could also take one more crazzy map like Mega random if wanted (even if by my experience Mega Random more often generates Semi closed Maps).
2: Why the Longsword buff is a nice Idear but wont change to much:
It should be clear that LS are kinda weak atm. Noone ever goes them and Milita line units are mainly seen either in Post Imp to counter Trash, in an M@a rush or to defend an Eagle all in.
Why is that:
well its simple: What are the Units we see in 99% of our Games in Castle Age:
Xbow and Knights.
The reason for that is pretty simple: Xbow can defeat and unit in Castle Age except Mass Siege and SKirms, while Knights can still somehow Match Xbow if in great Numbers and also beat any other Unit except Pikes and Monks.
Sadly an Army made out of Pikes or Skirms cant kill Vils (Raid) and also gets countered very easy.
The Longsword can deal with Pikes, kKirms, Siege, Monks and Vils, but it loses to Knights and Xbow, and still will.
Xbow right up destroy LS and 1 more Melee Armor wont Change that. 1 Pierce Armor could, but LS arent supposed to counter XBow.
Knights also still will beat them if not mixed with Pikes (and then you can mix Knights with Xbow).
Knights have high Armor, Dmg and dont need any Upgrades to be buildable. LS still need the M@a Upgrade, the LS Upgrade as well as supplies (and also kinda squiers). Compare that to Xbow which only need Xbow, while Xbow being one of the cheapest Upgrades with only 125/75 cost (LS with all ups costs 425/180).
Compared to Knights they also dont have a much faster production speed, but you need at least a 2 to 1 ratio to defeat Knights, which means you need double as many Baracks as the Knight Player Stables, and 175 Wood matters a lot in early Castle age (could be Farms or TCs).
To top it of Knights mainly cost Gold while LS mainly cost Food, and in Castle Age Food is the most valubale resource.
For all that wounder why Food is more valubale then Gold in Castle age:
Gold doesnt run out yet so all that matters is collection speed:
Food is the Only res that doesnt have an Upgrade that increases the collcetion speed and also needs Wood first to afford the Farm.
Gold and Food have a Base collection Speed of 0.38 for Gold and 0.32 for Farms, but Gold mining increases that by 15% to 0,437.
(Source for collection Rates: Villager (Age of Empires II) | Age of Empires Series Wiki | Fandom )
On top of that with Horse Collar Farm you have 250 Food and needs 60 Wood to be build. In other Words 1/4 of the Farms Food you need in Wood first, or other said for every 4 Food you collect you needed 1 Wood, which is comparable to saying that every 4th Food you dont collect any resource, bcs you basicly collect the Wood you needed for the Farm.
This lowers the collection rate of Farms to 3/4 of the original to 3/4 * 0.32 = 0.24 which is ~55% of the collection rate of Gold.
This means you get only 55% of the resources when collecting Food instead of Gold.
If we now look at the fact that LS need 75% Food (70% with suplys), Knights need ~40% Food and Archer need 0% Food then we know why Knights and Xbow will always be better then Food based armys.
We also learned while a player with a scout opening can only afford a few scouts and then has to stop procduing to go Castle Age, while an Archer opening can non stop produce Archers and achieve a similar Castle Age time.
So what can we do to make Longswords actually viable:
We could do 2 things:
-1: We can increase the collection rate of Farms by a lo to compensate for the initial Wood needed. This would change the entire Meta of the Game because then Food based Units like Skirms, Spears and Scouts would become viable and we would move away from our only Xbow and Knight meta. Would be a drastic change which is why it probably wont be done. I think it be nice because then mixed armys are mroe a thing, but it could upset old fans of the franchise because its a Change.
(-2: more likely approach:)
Give Longswords a small Bonus dmg vs Knights (not Cav, just Knights) and decrease their production speed to not need double as many Barracks as Stables. Also give Knights a little Bonus Dmg vs Xbow.
This way we would have a counter triangle of Knights really countereing Xbow, Xbow countering LS and LS countering Knights, and by this we have a reason to build any of these Units.
Atm Knights and Xbow just beat anything else and are equal against each other, gatekeeping any other Unit from being a viable Castle Age choice.
(also i wanna point out all problems i talked about are specific for Castle Age. In Imperial Age Wood normaly becomes overflowed, meaning that Food isnt effectivly collecting slower anymore because of its wood cost. Also Gold becomes rare as well as Food and Wood overflowing, meaning that Trash Units can be used in great Numbers to counter Knights (which is why Knights arent used super lategame) and Arbs can be dealt with by Mass skirms and BBC/ Onager (which can be protected much better by mass Trash then in Castle age, in which losing Trash Matters because you dont overflow Food/ Wood)
Thanks for reading.
Feel free to tell me your thoughts on these 2 Topics. The second one is something less important, because we are kinda used already to the Knight XBow Meta, but the Map pool really becomes one sided in the past Months, which is sad because it takes away a lot of the diversity of the Game imo.