Arguments against manned siege weapons - Yes it's better to let them run on their own

I see a lot of people here complaining that looking at siege weapons running around without operators break immersion for them and that’s a deal breaker for them. That’s fine that you speak out your opinions, but I think these people haven’t really thought hard enough on how exactly it would look like when siege weapons have little men running around operating them. Personally I think those little men would even make immersion worse.

Imagine, you have a cannon with a solider operating it, when some enemy MAAs come to attack it, what should those MAAs attack? Should they attack the operator, or torch the cannon?

If they torch the cannon (like how it works in Age IV), what should the cannon operator do? Keep running around fluting the barrel and firing the cannon as usual? “Alright gentlemen, burn what you like. Don’t mind me I’m just gonna do my job” - says the operator. And would it be immersive if the MAAs only attack the cannon while totally ignoring the enemy operator right next to it? But somehow when the cannon is burnt out, suddenly the cannon operator also fall down and die mysteriously, although literally no one has ever touched him? Cmon dudes, it’s comedic just imagining how it would play out, how could you think it would be realistic and immersive?

If they just attack the operator, shouldn’t they just use the normal attacks like with other human units instead of torching the weapon? Then the normal damage rules should be applied, no special rules and armor for siege units. The attack animations would also be very hard to be matched with the siege operator, so the attackers would be surely hitting the air. Currently some people are already complaining about soliders hitting the air when attacking buildings, it would just be even worse if they try to attack a man running around to operate a siege weapon. And when the operator dies, should the cannon suddenly collapse on the ground, like a loyal pet when its master dies?

It’s way too hard, maybe even impossible, to make siege weapon operators interact with the environment and situations realistically. Keep in mind that operating a trebuchet or mangonel is even more complicated than operating a cannon - which is common in Age III, where most of the people requesting to add manned siege weapons come from. And even looking at Age III, I don’t think it convinces me on the realism and immersion aspect. I’ve just rewatched a few Age III videos and noticed when the cannons turn around, the operators just stick to the cannon and SLIDE ON THE GROUND. I can understand why developers do that though, because simulating exactly what actions people have to take just to turn a cannon or a trebuchet around would be ridiculously complex and time consuming, and you wouldn’t want to wait 10 minutes every click for your siege weapon to move. So in short, in my opinion, Age III did NOT nail the realism by adding some men operating siege weapons, and I believe Age IV would not be able to nail it either. In Age IV, they already have golden silhouettes flashing around to represent all those complex actions without the need to show them in details, I think that’s a clever design, and it’s enough.

Also remember, this is just a game inspired by history, NOT a medival simulator. Not everything needs to be as realistic as possible. If it strives for maximum realism, you shouldn’t be able to produce villagers just by clicking an icon in TC, instead you would have to take 2 villagers, 1 male 1 female, into a house, let them do “some work together”, then wait for a while to get a baby, then wait some more time for him/her to grow up before you can tell him/her go chop down a tree. If it strives for maximum realism, soldiers with 1 HP left would be rolling on the ground holding the wounds instead of slashing enemies with full force like they’re feeling no pain.

Lastly, adding some men running around siege weapons can also make the battles more chaotic, which could be fun to look at, but at the same time, you would have a harder time to read the situation, distinguish units from each other, and control your army efficiently. Not everything the devs did in Age IV is good for readability, I admit, but this one is.

All for all, I think siege weapons in Age IV not having human operators is for good reasons. Personally I’m ok with it. I’d rather look at the siege weapons running around on their own than look at the awkward siege weapons operators not knowing how to properly interact with what’s happening around them.


First of all, there already are a lot of games out there since 2000s that successfully made siege weapons with crew, but yeah I know there is the holy scripture that “not as popular as AOE2 so not good”.

That can be said for literally every element the game has.
It’s very hard to make soldiers interact with each other when fighting realistically (actually they are still swining their weapons on their own with little response to their opponent’s action), so just make them stand still face to face and start losing hp.
It’s very hard to make projectiles interact with their targets realistically (which simply disappears when hit the target), so just remove projectiles and let the archers magically reduce the target’s hp from range.
It’s very hard to make riders interact with their mounts realistically (as they now move and die like one entity and the mount moves instantly whenever the rider wants), so just represent cavalry with only the horse.
These are all impossible to be made very realistically so they should all be removed.

BTW “The game is not reality simulator” and “It’s hard to make it perfectly realistic so simply remove it” do not fit into the same logic


AoE3 already figured out manned crew long time ago, it doesnt look silly. Same for the Bombard Cannon in AoE2.


Like I said, I’ve just rewatched some AOE3 videos and saw when the cannon turns around the crew doesn’t control it or at least walk, but they just slide on the ground. For me it does look very silly.


The game is not reality simulator. It’s okay to have crews slide on the ground.


I’d prefer not to have ground crews for a few reasons:

  1. While details like that are neat at first, in practice they just become background noise most of the time while you’re focused on actually playing. This means that their benefit is pretty small; it’s only visual and is likely not even noticed most of the time. This would not be a good reason to remove crews if they already existed (IMO), but would play into deciding whether to invest the development time into adding them.
  2. They either have to impact gameplay or risk looking janky sometimes. This boils down to tying movement/attacks/etc to the animations (impacting gameplay) or allowing them to interrupt animations (impacting the way they look).
  3. Depending on how much siege is visible at a time, large battles can just end up even more cluttered looking despite not having more actual units in play.

If the crews were added and didn’t impact how the units moved, I suspect a lot of folks wouldn’t even notice the change at first if no one told them about it.


I would appreciate if you can show specific examples, but I highly doubt that some game really successfully made crews that behave without looking awkward, unless that game is in a different genre.

Like I said, “you don’t have to make the game super realistic” and “you have to make crews super realistic if you want to add them” do not fit into the same logic.

You already have units that turn instantly and pop out directly from buildings, men that do not dodge or block the opponent’s attack, horses that share the same hp with their riders, crossbows and firearms that do not reload, BUT artillery crews have to behave very realistically otherwise do not add them.

BTW AOE2 already made crews for cannons at least, but why even cannons have no crew in AOE4?


Or you could look at it as “why add more janky animations when they don’t contribute to the game at all?”.

Units turning instantly is a gameplay thing, you either limit gameplay to the animations or allow it to take priority.

Horses sharing their riders HP is because they’re a single unit, and you can’t really have cavalry without their mounts. And the mounts without the riders are just horses while a siege weapon is still a siege weapon.

Not reloading ranged weapons is no more weird than them having unlimited ammo, but it’s also not something that would actually add to the game and could end up detracting from it by making gameplay more busy.

One guy pushing it from behind is not a crew. Whey they didn’t bother to create another model and animate it just for the looks is not something we can answer, but it isn’t really relevant.

The crews are just a visual of the game that some people like and others don’t.

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That’s so true. The jankiest thing I see in most RTS is that soldiers hitting each other with the same animation periodically, regardless of what happens, without dodging or blocking, and still act on their own when being hit. That had better be removed. Just make little men bump into each other and deduct hp. There is no need for those janky swinging of weapons.

Why cannot horses act on their own as siege weapons can?
I think horses die with their riders at the same time and respond instantly (which also includes sliding on the ground) is super janky. It’s better not to have them.

I think all animations are actually making the game more busy. Better have numbers moving on the screen.

Everything you listed here can basically be summarized in one sentence: because the game has it so it’s okay to have it, because the game does not have it so it’s okay not to have it.


If that’s the best you can get from reading, you need to work on your comprehension.

Sorry that not everyone cares about the same things as you, but your preferences aren’t special or more important than anyone else’s.

The job of a crew operating siege weapons is much more complicated than a man with a bow or a man riding a horse, you can’t compare them. Even more, operating trebuchets and mangonels are even more complicated than cannons, and AoE3 doesn’t have trebuchets or mangonels, while most people just reference to AoE3 to say it’s easy to add crews.

It doesn’t need to behave perfectly realistic to add, you’re right, but at that level of realism, would it help the game look and feel better or worse? I think the latter. Why add something that contribute negatively to both the gameplay (as a distraction) and the game atmosphere (the awkward interactions)?

Horses and riders can act as one entity and slide on the ground because they are one entity.
BUT artillery crews cannot slide on the ground like one entity!

Fine, but NOT HAVING CREWS is definitely the more special and more important preference here huh?

Who said it’s more special or important preference?

I listed some reasons why I prefer not to have crews, it’s just a preference that many people share.

You’re the one who got all defensive as though not wanting crews is wrong, then starting making a bunch of statements about units that have literally nothing to do with the discussion but do show a lack of understanding of design on your part.

Woodcutting is far more complicated than swinging an axe to the bottom of the tree.
Mining is far more complicated than hitting a pile of stone (which protrude from the ground) with a pick.
Unit training is far more complicated than men popping out from buildings.

BTW horse riding are also very complicated as well with a lot of skills and details otherwise everyone would be able to do so.
Loading of early cannons, or even muskets, was no less complicated than anything before them.

BUT because siege operation is complicated you have to make them super realistic, otherwise do not add them.

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No I didn’t start with “not wanting crews” is wrong.
But “not wanting crews because you cannot make crews super realistic and the game is not a realism simulator” is not only wrong but also self-contradictory.

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You’re right, my mistake. You transitioned to it when your original point didn’t actually provide any value.

I provided multiple reasons prefer not to have crews, not the least important of which is that it add 0 value to the game for me so every minute spent doing it is wasted.

The only justification I’ve seen for having them is that some people like how they look. That’s fine, some of us don’t and have additional reasons to prefer they aren’t there.

I think that alone would be a good reason for having or not to having crews. “I simply (don’t) like the look of it”

The whole realism argument would indeed be a waste of time because (1) everyone knows games are not simulators, even those who claim to be one (2) everyone disagrees on what is good realism and what is bad realism.

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If you think adding some men awkwardly doing something around siege weapons and get dragged along when their weapon turns around in itself would be better for your immersion then that’s alright, you can keep your opinion and hope for the devs to implement that. I myself would rather look at a clean representation of siege weapons and keep my focus on more important things like the gameplay, and I’m ok with playing the game as-is. That’s it, everyone has preferences.

I made this post because the main reasons some of you guys requested for manned crew was that you think not having it breaks immersion, and my point is to show you having it could break immersion even more. Does something need to behave perfectly realistic to be added? No, definitely not. But if it makes the game less realistic, isn’t it against your original purpose when you request to add it?

Animations are not just for realism, they help with gameplay when they’re done correctly.

Having attack animations indicates what specifically is happening, and siege have those animations (they actually do impact gameplay by allow you to tell what a unit is doing at a glance).

Dodge/block animations only matter if those mechanics exist in order to provide an indication that a unit wasn’t hit by an attack or mitigated the damage.

I’m not aware of this being possible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. If units can block/dodge then you are correct that they should have animations for it.

Adding more units just for animation would be like adding squires to all the knights, it would add some more visual stuff but wouldn’t change how knights play or how people interact with them.