The Problem of Archers (or why Civs like Teutons will probably never be meta):
Since i started playing this Game more 1v1 focused i always thought that Archers are kinda ahead of the other Unit classes, and latly i saw a Comment on a Video about Teutons, in which the Person said „the Problem with Teutons is that they have no good answer vs Archers. Since the beginning of the Game Archers were always op, Cav kinda mehh, and Infantry usless“
Thats what i also thought for a long time, after all in most 1v1 Games you gona see people go for Archers, some for Scouts and Knights, and the odd Goth or Malian Player for Inf.
An easy example that Archer might be better, is that not even Archer Civs go Archers, but also Inf Civs like Japs will always go Archers, despite having a huge Infantry Bonus.
I wanna discuss now why I think that Archers are OP, why Infantry is bad, and how to fix the Problem. (I talk specificly about Feudal and Castle Age, in Imp it seems more Balanced, for the Reason i gona Mention)
Why Archers seem OP:
In theory the Game has a sort of Balance Triangle, of that Archers counter Inf, Inf counter Cav, and Cav counter Archer, but in reality thats not the case.
If you have 2 Crossbowman vs 1 Knight, then the Knight wins, but at a Critical Point The Crossbows start dominating the Knights.
I think this Point is around the Time your Group of Cross can one shot a Knight (which is at 40 with equal upgrades, and at 30 with only 1 defensiv Cav Upgrade).
A knight costs 135 Res, and a Crossbow 70, which means with equal Infestments the Knight Player will have around 60% of the Crossbownumbers in Knights. If it would be a Counter the Knights should win, so why arent they.
Because Range Units have a better upscaling.
A Knight in melee Combat might kill them, but the Archers will always keep shoting at the Knights, while moving. Because of this the closest Knight dies every 2.0 secs (Fire Rate). This means a lot of the Knights wont even reach their Target. Its also important that the closest one dies, bcs the Knights wont all be at the same Posiiton, instead they will walk behind each other.
To give an example of the Impact:
I make an example of 24 Knights engaging 40 Crossbows without any Unit Collision, this means we ignore the fact that the Knights will always have a „closest“ Knight, and act like all are on top of each other.
A Knight has a Movespeed of 1.35, a Crossbow of 0.96. This means the Knight has an effectiv speed of 0.39 ~0.4 tiles a second, because the Crossbows will walk and shot (we gona ignore the attackanimation because we are also ignoring the Unit collision).
The Crossbows have a Range of 7, which means the Knights will need 7 / 0.4 = 17.5 seconds to engage Melee Combat in our example. With a fire Rate of 2.0 this means that 8.75 Knights will die before even engaging in Melee combat.
In practise this is can be less or even worse, because all of this only aplies to the closest Knights, while all other Knights will be blocked by the Knights in front of them. And this isnt only a Pathing issu as well, because even with perfect Pathing, units cant go trough each other.
So basicly Range Units become strong when they are in big enough Numbers to one shot their enemys.
There is also another reason why Range units become stronger in Big Numbers.
If 6 Crossbows get Sourunded by 3 Knights, then all Knights can attack at once, but if 60 Crossbows stand tight toghter, then the 30 Knights can only attack the Crossbows at the outer Ring, which results in a Situation in which even in melee combat, only a part of the Knights can attack, while all Range Units can attack at once.
As a conclusion Range Units are very Strong in big Numbers, because then they get specific advantages over melee Units.
How to Fix the Archer Problem:
Well if you agree with me that Archers are to strong and my Reasoning behind it, then Archers are to strong in big Numbers. Imo there is only one good way to fix it, which is to make their wood costs bigger.
As explained before Archers are to good in high Numbers, which is why they should be harder to mass, after all the same amount of Resources of Knights often loses vs them, despite being a „counter“.
However in Imperial Age when pop efficency is important as well Archers arent as dominant anymore and rather balanced (imo).
This is why I think an increase of their Wood Costs would be a good idear, because a Gold cost increase would weaken them in Imp as well, while Wood isnt as important in Imp anymore.
With a higher Wood cost they would be harder to mass in Feudal and Castle, without holding them back to much in Imp.
But how much should the Wood cost be increased:
I made some tests in the scenario Editor with Crossbows vs Knights until a Point at which I consistantly had a close fight which could be won or lost (with microing the Crossbows). This was around 30 Knights, depending on the Micro Quality. It would been possibale to defeat more Knights with good micro, but i take this as a Border. Sadly there is no mathematical way to say at which point Crossbows and Knights are even, because there are many random factors like the Pathfinding, the Unit collision depending on their size, the Terrain and so on.
If we would take 30 Knights as equal to 40 Crossbows, then the Cost of Crossbows would need to be ~ 101 res. With the actual Cost of 70, this would mean a cost increase of 30 wood from 25 Wood and 45 Gold to 55 Wood and 45 Gold.
Even if the test has shown this I think its kinda extrem to begin with, and because Balancing adjustments should be done with cautiones I would start with a lower value, which is 45 Wod and 45 Gold to see the impact on the Game. Obviously it would make Archer weaker, but atm they are in a state in which you can build them vs every Unit, while being a Counter to Inf would be more healthy for the Game, by giving the Game more virarity. (obviously we need to talk about Inf as well for that).
All in all to summary the Archer Topic. I think Archers are to strong because of their strong upscaling in high Numbers. This obviously would be for all Range units, but Skirms or Cav Archer seem to not have this Problem, because they cant fill such an allrounder Role. Specifically the Cav Archer is much more expensiv, which results in fewer Numbers.
The Infantry Problem:
In theory Infantry should Counter Cav, and by this I dont mean the Pike line only, but that also the Champ line should be able to trade cost effectiv. After all what makes Inf special is that they have good Combat stats for their cost, by missing out on Uitlity. (they are melee and slow, which gives them less Utilitiy then Ranged or Cav units). Its basicly a trade off.
Still in a 1v1 a Player that goes for Inf will most of the time lose vs a Player that goes Knights, if they invest equal Numbers of Resources.
Why is that:
(now we talk about Melee Units only, which reduces the upscaling problems of Archers)
First of all it seems like Inf Counters Cav cost effectivly, by their production Costs.
1 Longswordman (with Supplies) costs 65 Res, which is Half of a Knight.
2 Longswords lose vs 1 Knight, but the same cant be sayed for bigger Numbers because of the Ganging up Effect which balanced it out.
So what is the Problem (except that most people face Archers right now)
Well its the Fact that Longswords cost more Wood then Knights, and by this cant fight in a 2 to 1 Ratio.
How can a Unit without Woodcosts cost more Wood:
For every Unit you will need production Buildings and Houses.
A Knight is produced in 30 Seconds, while a Longsword in 20 Seconds. This means for every 3 Stabels you will need 4 Baracks to be able to maintain the 2 to 1 Ratio. (30/ 20 = 1,5. 1,5 / 2 = 0,75. 3 / 0,75 = 4. 3 Stabels in 30 Secs = 3 Knights. 4 Baracks = 4 LS in 20 Secs + Half a LS in all of them => 6 LS)
This means the Infantry Player has to pay 33% more Wood on Production Buildings. Additionally he has to Pay twice the Amount on Houses, because he needs double the Numbers. In Castle Age Wood is as valubale as Gold, and by this the Wood cost holds the Inf Player back against the Knight Player.
How to Fix the Wood Problem for Infantry:
In short the Inf Player has to safe some Wood, and the only way to safe some Wood would be to make the Baracks cost less Wood, because its the only building that will only be needed for an Inf strategy (except the 1 Barack to unlock other buildings).
But reducing the Wood costs would also help other playstyles, because every Player has to build a Barack in Dark Age, so how to fix it:
Supplies is a Tech that is only researched if a Player wants to go heavy on Infantry. For that reason it would be my idear to make the Supplies tech additionaly reduce the Wood costs of Barracks.
The only Question now would be by which amount:
We already know the Inf Players pay 33% more on the production buildings, which would be 57,75 Wood. Additionaly he pays double theAmount on Houses, which is harder to calculate, because it depends on the number of the created Units.
A Stable can Produce 2 Knights a Minute. This would make 270 Res a Minute. A Vil Produces around ~27 Res a Minute, which means 10 Vils are needed for 1 Knight. In Castle Age most People will have between 30 and 90 Vils, depending on the time. This means Knight Production of 3-4 Stables is possibale. If we assume a Player reaches Castle with 40 Vils, produces of 3 TC’s in Castle, and goes up with 90 Vils, then he produced 50 Vils in Castle. A Vil needs 25 Secs, which means after 416 Seconds (~7 min) he could think about going Imp. In this Time he could have Produced 42 Knights from 3 Stabels. This would mean 8,4 (9) Houses which would cost 225 Wood.
In total every Stable would have cost 75 additional Wood in Houses.
=> If we assume exactly this situation, then the Baracks cost would need to be reduced by half of 75, to make up for the Houses (37,5 Wood).
As said before balancing changes should be made very cautios, and this assumption is VERY apstract, because it assumes that a Player only produces Knights for the whole Castle age form 3 Stables without a Pause. In reality a lot of other things would probably happen.
If we take the saved Wood from the Baracks and Houses togher we would have 58+37 = 95 Wood.
Because of cautiones I would reduce this to 75 Wood for the first testing. (also Goths dont get supplies, so I would give them the cost reduction from Feudal Age on. I chose Feudal Age to prevent Dark Age cheeses. Also Supplies is a Feudal Tech)
As a Summary: Inf can trade good vs Knights if both Armys have the same cost value, which isnt the case because of the higher Wood costs for Infantry in Baracks and Houses. Because of this Problem I would recommend to decrease the cost of Baracks with the Supplies Tech.
Short Idear for Knights:
Knights are also in a weird spot compared to Archers because its impossibale to mass them before Castle Age. Archers can be build in Feudal Age and then just be Upgraded in Castle which is a huge advantage over the Knights for Feudal Age plays.
It could be an Idear to introduce a Unit to the Knight line in the Feudal Age like a Mounted Man at Arm, but this Idear would change the Game balance drasticly. (its only an Idear that people might think over if they want)
It would be nice to like and comment on this Post, if you share my opinion on this topic, to make this Post more popular. If this Post gets enough attention we might be able to see a change in the Game. If you think in a similar direction, but have other idears, pls tell these to everyone with a comment.
I hope that with these changes Infantry and Cav gets a bigger place in the Game, and Inf Civs like Japs are able to go for their Inf, instead of Archers every Game.
Also i suppose that some Civs like Teutons might be OP at the beginning, because these Civs have VERY strong bonuses, to make them able to compete with Archers Civs in an Archer based Game. (If Brits would have 40% cheaper farms it would be OP, but Teutons dont have Archers which makes it OK atm, but this Mod might Change that.)
Also i assume that other Archer Units like Cav Archers and Skirms would need to be adjusted as well as a result of the Change for the Archer line, but i dont want to Change to much things at once to be able to see resulting interaktions of the Changes.
Ofc EVERYTHING i said here is only theory, and it would need to be tested, and then adjusted based on the Tests.
For this reason I made a Dataset with the balance changes i mentioned in this Post. You can find the Mod in the Mod Center to test the Changes with it. (I wanna mention that it probabaly wont be perfectly balanced, because we only had theory yet. The Mod is mainly supposed to give a feeling about how the Game variation could change with the suggested changes [i assume that Cav and Inf would be more viable, which would result in a Gameplay with more variantion, instead of so many Archer plays])