I’ve been thinking about the Tatar hill bonus a lot lately, and I think I’ve finally pinned down why it’s so underwhelming.
The problem is that when you have hill advantage, you’re already in a situation where you’re probably going to win the fight. You have 25% more health and 25% more damage, those multiply to give you 56% more unit value.
The Tatar bonus takes that from 156% unit value to 188% unit value. In reality, that’s a mere 20% extra unit value(1.88/1.55=1.20), and only while in a situation where all civs would already win.
Being buffed in a situation players already know well to avoid isn’t a particularly useful bonus, because those players are already avoiding it to the best of their ability. This means that it doesn’t particularly change the way the existing fight structure would go. The Tatars just win fights they would have won anyway, and it doesn’t meaningfully impact any other part of the game.
A more meaningful bonus would be the ability to ignore enemy hill advantage. If they could attack enemies uphill without penalty while still getting their own normal hill advantage when attacking downhill, that would be a far more potent and useful bonus.
Of course, this still ignores the fact that hills don’t exist on all maps. So while some civs like the Mongols get a consistent bonus across all maps, the Tatars are essentially useless on any map that does not have hills to abuse.
There are a few ways to fix this. One unorthodox idea I had was to just let Tatars build a special building that’s just a level 1 hill about the size of a castle foundation. Not sure if that’s a great idea, but it would at least let them use their bonus in all potential scenarios.
Alternatively, you could leave the hill bonus as-is, if you give them some sort of other bonus that’s more universal.
For example, we can attempt to emulate the real-life Parthian Tactics.
Have Tatar units flag the last 3-4 tiles they walked over. When they attack an enemy standing on those tiles, the Tatars get the standard hill advantage, but NOT their enhanced bonus. So if they charge at an enemy, they don’t get anything(because the flagged tiles are behind them), but when they attack and then retreat, they get hill advantage if the enemy walks on the flagged tiles. They only get the hill advantage if they’re actually attacking from higher altitude, but that doesn’t require the enemy to be standing on flagged tiles, either.
This is drawing inspiration directly from the real-life Parthian Tactics, where the cavalry archers would charge the enemy, then fake a break+retreat. The enemy, seeing the enemy seemingly fleeing, would break formation to chase them, only to be hit by a huge mass of arrows fired from the fleeing horses. This would throw the other force into chaos, which would then be broken and destroyed by the Parthian Tactics-using force , who would once again change directions and attack the divided and weakened groups.
This would put Tatars in an interesting position of a defensive cavalry archer civ, where they have powerful bonuses if they can get the enemy to chase them, but lacking a bonus in outright offense.
The only question is whether this would be overly complex.
Anyways, just some thoughts on the Tatars, thanks for reading.