Alternate attack mode?

Could we have units with alternate attack mode?

Like archers being able to switch into melee mode. They could suck overall in melee with an attack of only 3, but are better vs rams.

Indian Elephant Archer can change to melee mode, and works somewhat like a battle elephant but worse. The same case for ballista elephants. It makes sense since a real-life elephant is not just going to take a hit and not hit you back.

Unless of course, this ruins the game balance. It would probably be better off as a mod or alternate game mode.

Not sure if its even possible to code for aoe2, but despite the case being whichever, the game isnt supposed be that advanced and never will be. Maybe AoE4 might have such features, maybe not.

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Thanks to current genie engine limitations it’s not.
Might be possible in openage.

It is possible in genie engine. Make a free tech that upgrades the ranged unit to unit with melee attack, another tech that upgrades it back to ranged unit. But it may change all units of the same type on the map.

I think there may have been a conscious design decision against this.

It would be cool for one special unit, breaking the rules a bit, but in general I think it softens counters and makes all units play more the same and make every unit not good or bad but kind of okay against most other units.

Let’s take skirmishers. They’re great against most archer units, good vs a few special cases with more range or mobility, decent against the pikeman line and pretty bad against everything else. Now we give them a backup attack, nothing spectacular, maybe like a pikeman attack without bonus damage. It’s still a trash unit after all. They’re now a bit better when pushed by infantry (and micro’d really well), and they now have some sort of a chance against siege. They’ve become more versatile units. Now we give everything else a secondary attack as well. Foot archers get a melee attack that lets them bypass the pierce armor of the skirmishers. They still take bonus damage while walking up to the skirmishers, so it’s still a bad matchup, but at least they stand some sort of a chance. It’s a little better for cavalry archers, who arrive at the skirmishers sooner. In low numbers they can even get inside the minimum range and force skirmishers to use their pathetic melee attack. So the skirms are now just kind of meh against things that used to hard counter them, and pretty okay against things they used to hard counter.

Now, this is a subtle balancing act. Not every game needs to be Star Wars Galactic Battle Grounds/aoe2 in space, which contained much harder counters like air units that couldn’t be targeted by regular ground units but got shredded by anti-air units. This is both a lot of fun and kind of unfair, as a single hidden tech switch can destroy you. On the opposite side, less hard counters, there’d be less spectacle but the game would be fairer, in the sense that skill in execution becomes more important. But I feel like the balance in this in aoe2 is pretty good, and has always been pretty good in this aspect. Giving all units in aoe2 an extra attack, aside from the question of whether the engine can even handle it, introduces a lot of extra micro for the effect of disturbing this balance. I personally don’t think that would make for a better game.

For a one of a kind unit though (assuming the engine can handle it), say a change to the mameluke so it has both a ranged and a regular melee attack that are useful in different circumstances, sure.


I once read something about this - I think it was an interview with one of the original developers - that said that in an early version of the game, Samurai could swap between their swords and a bow. I’m not sure why they ditched the idea, but I think they said it was because it was micro-intensive in a way they didn’t want. If I remember rightly, they got rid of the need for villagers to unpack Trebuchets for the same reason. (All that said, this is something I read probably 15 years ago or more, so I could easily be misremembering!)

Of course, the dev team is completely different now and might have a totally different opinion about it. But since the battles have generally got bigger since 1999 (since the standard population limit is now 200 rather than 75), avoiding units that require intensive micromanagement probably makes even more sense now than it did then.