Hey guys, maybe a little controversial but I want to discuss the current balance state of mongols and especially the Mangudai. This discussion focuses on 1v1 matches since team games have a unique dynamic to them. And of course please assume a similar skill level.
At the moment the peak performance of mongols is mainly infantry (and springalds…) and rarely cavalry. The speed bonus with the Deer Stones helps cheap produced Ovoo boosted infantry to overwhelm enemies. Additionally building springalds in the field is the current meta and pretty strong.
On the other hand the cavalry civilisation mongols rarely uses any cavalry at all and even lesser their unique unit the Mangudai.
Aspects of this are mainly the bad performance or value of horseman and Mangudai especially early on and in the midgame. The mongols also have only one (1) unique upgrade for cavalry in imperial age compared to other civs which is an extension of the 20% bonus HP by 10% if you spend 1000 stones (which is a lot for mongols).
But I think the main issue here is the overwhelmingly underperformance of Mangudais. Imo they are not worth to invest any ressources in at the moment since all alternatives are just plain better.
A few things in detail:
Stats and eco
If you compare the Mangudai with other similar units it gets clear that its one of the worst units in the game at the moment: For 120 food and 40 gold you can train one Mangudai in 30sec. If you double produce via the Ovoo it will be 130 food, 30 gold and 160 stone (weird inconsistency btw.). For this price you get a unit in feudal age with: 85hp, 3,5 range, 7 damage and 1.62 movespeed.
The value you get for your money is just really bad. For almost the same amount you could train 2 Scouts and an archer or a horseman and a archer (and horseman are pretty weak as well at the moment like mentioned above). Or just 2 archers (in the same time it takes to produce 1 Mangudai btw).
If you compare the Mangudai with a regular archer with 70hp, 5 range, 5 damage and 1.25 movespeed its almost a no-brainer which unit is better stats wise. The rus cavalry archer gives you a 85hp. 1.62ms, 12 (!) damage at 4,5 range monster in 22sec for 80 food and 40 wood in castle age. Even the camel archer can shoots more far, is tanky as hell, gives a 20% debuff for cavalry and does 10 damage with with 1.62 movespeed. Tbf its quite expensive but imo used as a support unit together with other units.
Also there are no special upgrades beside one which increases the damage of Mangudai by 1 (or 2 if you research with ovoo) in castle-age. All the other tech is just the regular which other units also get. Rus cav archers get insane range upgrades and camel archers get even more tanky and get other benefits.
Usage and counters
Since a horse archer does not fit in the classic stone-paper-scissor triangle ideas for usage could be massing, raiding in small groups or just a few together with other units. In all cases the Mangudai is bad: For raiding you can only kill low armor units since there is no torch damage and low damage in general. You also have to be kinda present while raiding otherwise a few archers or just some units in a tower/TC will shred them fast if you dont keep moving due to their low hp and armor. Using lancers, horseman or MAA is just way more efficient for raiding. Oh and if the enemy has towers or even wood walls youre pretty much lost with your mangudai since they have no torch damage and get shred easily.
To “cash back” the ressources of one Mangudai you would have to kill almost 3 vills with it while it needs 8 shots to kill one. Raiding with lancers is way more viable and they only cost the difference of a Scout in ressources.
If you want to mass Mangudai you have to have an ultra strong eco to support its high cost and you get countered by low cost archers or horseman, lancers, spears, nearly everything if you just forget to move once while fighting or pathing fucks you up. Even if you double produce directly at the start of feudal age you can produce 6 (maximum 8 from my testing) before running out of stone. Just to put this into perspective: Almost the same resources could be used to go directly into castle age.
Even if you micro them all the time perfectly the low damage (especially in low numbers) just does not kill the units youre supposed to kite (especially knights/lancers or MAA) fast enough. Also movespeed bonus for infantry with deer stones and towers just makes it even more worth it to use regular archers and later crossbows instead of Mangudai. You just get way more bang for your buck.
Replays and suggestions
All in all the only unique unit for the mongols (beside the khan) is just plain bad in usage compared to other alternatives and even worse if you compare stats. I also tried to find high level gameplay to see if I maybe missed a viable strat but its just so rare. In the genesis tournament I could not even find a single game were mongols actually used them successfully. A nice example is the Viper vs. Zerton game from Genesis where a mix of Mangudai and Lancers couldnt do ■■■■ against french knights all game.
Imo there needs to be some changes to make Mangudai viable. Either lower the cost, increase damage and range or give them more HP/armor. I dont actually think making them available in Age 3 instead of Age 2 would be bad if you get some better stats instead. At least give them some viable upgrades available or let them scale better in later Ages. The rus horse archer for example fits a nice role with high damage, medium cost and good range while being squishy. Even tho it cant shoot wile moving it outperforms the Mangudai in almost every Scenario.
Maybe I missed something but the lack of high level gameplay when I was looking at this kinda confirmed that this unit is just not viable at the moment. None of the current top 200 Streamers or Youtube games of mongols actually had a good and solid Mangudai based winning game.
I really hope the Devs read this and maybe some nice adjustments make it into the coming christmas-patch to make mongols less of a infantry civ and a viable cavalry civ with a fun to play Mangudai which is actually worth it. It would be amazing if one of the devs could maybe just acknowledge that this is at least in their sight somehow.
Oh and sorry for any mistakes, English is not my native language.