Balance discussion on the steppe lancer

Hi all,

I think the vast majority of the forum community agrees on the fact that steppe lancers were always underperforming since their huge nerf in December. The +1 attack boost for both the basic and the elite version were definitely not enough, and with the recent pathfinding improvements we can only predict an even worse future for the unit. I think that such an interesting unit like the steppe lancer should not be left alone, especially at the point we can say that there is no civilization which is either too strong or too weak to need an urgent buff or nerf. So let the discussion begin…

So the most important question: Why are steppe lancers performing weak? Of course they have weak stats, that is always part of the answer, but might not be the only reason. Look at a counterexample: Mongol cavalry archers. They have strong stats, but also have the same functionality and use as the mangudie, a much stronger unit, therefore they are not seen often.

Steppe lancers don’t really have an identity, or it might be even closer if I say: They don’t perform enough well the action what they should be good at. The +1 range means they should be a micro intensive unit, they should perform outstandingly when microing. Do they? Not really. Speaking of battles, the outcome what steppe lancers can achieve with microing is worse than the outcome what knights can achieve without microing. Speaking of raiding: They might perform better than the light cavalry-line, but they are much more expensive. Steppe lancers only have 2 very situationial pros while having a huge amount of countras: The unit can counter quickwalls, and when the enemy ranges units are bumped up in a very, very tight space they don’t suffer that much casualities, and the enemy suffers more casualities.

What the buffs should be concentrated at:
-Making the steppe lancers better in large battles, where the +1 range should help
-Making the steppe lancers easier to micro
-Or even creating some more cases where the steppe lancers should outperform both the knight line and the light cavalry line, so they are a decent choice over both generic unit-lines

My proposed changes:

  1. Speed increased (back) from 1,45 to 1,5
  2. Rate of fire (=reload time) decreased from 2,3 to 2,0
  3. Cost decreased from 70 food 45 gold to 65 food 40 gold
  4. Cost of the Elite Upgrade changed from 900 food 550 gold to 500 food 650 gold

What these changes would achieve:
-Easier microing and slightly better raiding thanks to the first and second change
-Thanks to the 3rd change, it is easier to mass the unit, therefore easier to achieve the state where steppe lancers can be cost effective in certain large battles due to the +1 range
-Steppe lancers wouldn’t perform too awfully in general battles because of the second change
-Steppe lancers will be a unique cavalry in perspective of higher effectiveness agains the pikemen-line (still far from cost effective with 0 micro)
-Steppe lancers will be unique, since they will be the unit with the highest speed
-It is now worth to invest into elite steppe lancers thanks to the fourth change, but the elite upgrade has more gold cost so it ismore risky trying to achieve a very large mass

I made a comparision with the original steppe lancer for anyone who is worried about the unit being too strong again:
-Steppe lancers will have +10 gold -5 food cost
-Steppe lancers will have +0,1 reload time / rate of fire
-Steppe lancers will have -1 attack
-Steppe lancer collision box will still be the double
-Elite steppe lancer upgrade cost is changed from 900 food 550 gold to 500 food 650 gold
-Significantly better pathfinding, which has improved with each patch, especially with the current (most important factor in my opinion)

Make sure to share your thoughts!


That’s way too much for a unit with that much potential to be broken imo.
Take it slowly. I don’t even think they’re too far away from being good. They’re already great at sniping stuff (Vils, Monks, Mangos).

I’d start by getting their RoF back to normal (2.0) - then wait and see.
I think we all prefer this unit being a bit underwhelming over it possibly going back to a “demolish everything”-state


I wouldn’t call them great, but yeah pretty good. Although basicly this is the only situation you currently create steppe lancers for, and light cavalry is not that much behind so if you don’t have gold light cav can do the job also pretty well.

I don’t think it would be even close to owerpowered. I think that the comparision at the end shows that pretty well (also notice how pathfinding got a lot better since December, since that’s the main reason). Don’t worry, I’ve made my research to not even accidently suggest way too strong changes.

That’s a question of what balancing ideology you prefer. I don’t like conservative because that changes the meta very slowly and takes time for people to realise and notice the differences (look at the +1 attack buff for example). If my changes would be live, even if steppe lancers got to be a bit stronger than intended, I’m sure that it is still far from overpowered and I would have a unit rather strong than ideal after a buff than weaker than ideal.

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but thats a very vanilla buff… almost everything in the game is 2.0, ergo it slightly lessens its identity as opposed to changing something else

also he has a giant lance, so realistically he should be attacking slower…

i agree with this, especially if we consider the mongol / tatar SL depending on the situation…

imo it is mainly the cuman SL which is so bad… since it lacks the +1PA or the extra hp.

while that would be great, it means its a unit that is heavier in almost everyway than a hussar, but the same speed? i think 1,45 is fine since its still faster than any equivalent

i think this is more the issue. a steppe lancer is a medium to light cavalry if anything to justify its weakness it should be cheaper, along with its upgrade.

i think people are confusing the keshik with the steppe lancer. the keshik is the big battle “front line” “steppe knight but still weaker than the knight equivalent” whereas everything about the SL seems to say its supposed to be a lighter cavalry aka not necessarily for tanking big battles


The ease of massing Steppe Lancer is a great issue. If it is too easy to mass, they can overwhelm a lot of melee unit in mass battle. This has to be handled cautiously.

I think the game shouldn’t be this much realistic

Mongols still miss the last armor upgrade, though against melee units, the steppe lancer could be really strong, I agree. It is still heavily countered by ranged units compared to a cavalier with full armor upgrades for example
I’m not worried about that tatars, some paladin civs will still be much stronger against archers. Wouldn’t be that strong to require any nerfs.

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In my opinion the paladins with the current patch (and pathfinding) could still take cost effective fights easily. Although I agree with you. That’s why I think that decreasing 5 from food and gold is a better idea instead of decreasing the gold cost by 10 or even more (original steppe lancers had 30 gold cost instead of 45)

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My feeling is that SLs miss a role, not just stats. They were simply too strong, now they are simply too weak.

But either they will be a better version of knight or a weaker one.

If we want to make it an alternative knight (so a unit whose power/cost are competitive), we may even remove the knight from SL civs, despite this require the introduction of an imperial SL for the cumans.

Personality I would like to see a SL doing something that the knight does not (so no need to compete with knights):

  • reduced TT. They could be the shotels of the stable
  • reduced cost. They could be the karambits of the stable
  • make it costing as an eagle
  • returning a large portion of their cost
  • returning all their cost but they get a huge TT
  • very relevant speed buff, so that the can run away extremely easily even from camels
  • attack bonus vs vills

I think the +1 range gives them a very good role. It makes their strength curve work otherwise than knight-line’s (the amount of stronger they can get with higher numbers is bigger than the exact same thing with knight’s). They counter quickwall, and can snipe siege, villagers and monks. In my opinion the problem here is that how much they can active this identity (currently: not really). With better stats they can.

I wouldn’t compare them to the knights. That 1 range makes so much difference, like how I said it above.

They already have so many different behaviours than the knight, so I do not think any of thise suggestions would be a good idea.
-easier to snipe villagers, monks and siege
-counters quickwalls
-camels cannot outrun them
-stronger versus pikemen and halberdiers
-much weaker versus archers
-more units increase their strength much higher than the same thing with knights


I think 2.1 RoF and cheaper Elite (say 600f 450g) is a good enough buff for the Lancers rn. Mixed with camels they make up a very good fighting force.

Another idea would be 2.2 RoF and 60f 40g unit cost (no change to Elite upgrade cost)

Is it heavier tho? Hussar(same HP for light cav and regular lancer) has 5 less HP and 1 more pierce armor, I think they fall in the same light category


i already addressed this… its not a knight, the keshik is. if anything its a hussar

yeah thats true, while the tatar os equal in PA, the 5hp doesnt change much, and similarly for the mongol hp…

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I’d do this and give them enough of a bonus damage vs villagers buff to make them a pure raider unit.


sounds good, although its cumans who suffer the most… since they dont have heavy camels, i still think cumans should get a unique buff for their SL (although i doubt this will happen)

i guess it boils down to making them slightly stronger or slightly cheaper, but it was funny how they nerfed almost everything when it was found to be OP, like almost just banned them, instead takling one or two issues

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That’d make them too much similiar to the light-cavalry line. Steppe lancers’ identity should be around that +1 range, which can be indeed good when killing villagers, but not enough good to replace a unit-line which doesn’t cost gold. I don’t think steppe lancers should be an alternative to knights or light-cavalry, but rather a 3rd unique cavalry line.

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except light cavalry line doesn’t 2 shot workers.

which is great at sniping units. thus the villager bonus damage.

which is why i keep their base damage where it is and give them bonus vs villagers. maybe throw in a bonus vs siege on top.


But what is the reason why you would make it to have similar uses as the light cav instead of having a 3rd unqiue role?

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because they would be more efficient at the role then light cavalry. light cav/hussar have a maximum damage of 11. Elite SL start at 15 and then gain bonus damage on top of that. Light cav only gain bonus damage to monks. thus by giving SL bonus vs villagers and siege you clearly define their role.
give the ESL a bonus of 7 vs villagers and they literally 2 shot villagers, and you can adjust the Siege Bonus damage to whatever you feel is practical without being OP.

It makes no sense to have a unit like the steppe lancer in the game then. It is easier to give those 3 civs some bonuses for light cav instead.

If you look at all generic unit-lines, all of them have a different identity. Introducing a unit-line with a similar identity to another makes no sense. It would be much better if steppe lancers would be a completely different unit with a completely different role, bringing more diversity and enjoyment in the game. The siege bonus is a better idea, but cavalry was always good against siege, so I don’t see that big advantage of that compared to my proposed changes. I think that giving any kind of bonus to them making it very similar to either the knight-line or light cav-line is just a bad idea. Why wouldn’t you want a completely new 3rd kind of cavalry, like how the elephant is for those 4 civs? It is like if we had introduced the boyar as a generic unit for all civs available. Makes no sense when there is already the knight-line available.


No need for an imperial steppe lancer, just let cumans be the odd one with both knights and steppe lancer.

For Mongols and tatars we remove knights, so the steppe lancers has forcibly found its niche that it currently lacks.

Lastly we increase the stepp lancer hp to 90 and elite stepp lancer to 110 so they can serve as reasonable Knight replacements being squishier but with range.

Then we wait and see if it turns out op or up. If op then we increase the cost to be closer to knights, if it turns out up then we buff the attackspeed.

If Mongols are nerfed then that is OK anyway. And cumans would not lose knights so the only ones we need to be concerned over are tatars, and even they still have a great heavy cav keshik anyway.

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A steppe lancer doing more damage especially vis vils over range already gives it more identity than the boyar to the paladin for example. And it isn’t a UU so it doesn’t need to have a completely unique purpose. Being able to attack at range also means with its siege bonus it can far more easily snipe protected siege. Unlike knight line, that can more easily be body blocked and or tied up while running away from having sniped siege.

But then i support your cost and tech reduction idea as well.