A free outpost/castle for age up - helps with defense and forwards as well
Mongolian scourge also giving +10% atk ( just to help the units during age 2 fights)
Beiyang army card ( 1000 food for 8 steppe & 8 Keshiks + vet upgrade for both unit) → move to age 2 but reduce to 500 food and sending 4&4 but keep the vet upgrade), buffs units temporarily but also for advantage in age 2
steppe and keshisks are more than powerful enough if you get them with upgrades in age 2 ( mongolian scourge + standard army hitpoints). maybe if the beiyang army is in age 2 as well that is the vet upgrade as well
they are also ridiculously spamable from castle, hence why I say a possible buff would be a free castle somehow
Obvious suggestion that needs to happen: +100 food crate at the start. China is the slowest civ to reach Age 2 in the game having an identical crate start to Sweden. But with worse economy, having to gather or find 90 wood in Age I, only getting 2 villagers from shipment and no economy from torps, unlike Sweden.
Numbers are just suggestions of course, but not having any good heavy cavalry in Age 2 is a huge issue.
Flamethrowers are a joke unit. One of them dies to 10 strelets. This unit is redundant with Chinese Skirmishers. It needs to cost less ressources and not 4 pop. Upgrades should increase range and maybe movement speed, since its kited too easily by any ranged unit. China needs a 2 Flamethrower shipment in Age 2.
Why does Sweden get a 2 Leather Cannon shipment which is 800 ressources combined, better than all other Age 2 shipments? And yet China doesn’t even get a 2 Flamethrower shipment, which would still be less than 700 ressources in Age 2?
Overall the goal should be this: Reach Age 2 faster thanks to +100 food start.
Offer something else other than rushing Age 3 in every game. This could easily achieved via the consulate changes suggested above, opening up a more economic-focused playstyle via German and/or Russian consulate. Especially if you use the “Good faith agreements” card together with 300 export in Age 2.
with mongolian scourge, keshiks deal 32 dmg to cav per shot (before resists) and with their 1.5 rof that means that their dps is doubled so thats 64 to cav in age 2. They also have 30 range resist so they are pretty ridiculous in age 2.
You do need a decent mass of them but castles can train them with steppe riders which can tank range with another 30 range resist and the hitpoint cards. The army is pretty cheap as well especially with the german consulate
Combined this with the cnk shipments means that china can basically do skirm goon in age 2. I think thats pretty good. If you can jump to age 4 then old dynasty reforms buffs this even further
Except no one does that because its a terrible version of Skirm goon.
CKN only have 16 range vs Skirm 20 range. Both Keshik and CKN are Age 2 units which means they scale off of Age 2 stats. Thats much worse than Skirm Goon. Dragoons are Age 3 units, which means their upgrade cards and upgrades scale much better.
Keshik can be good like you said, but they require Age IV, Old Dynasti reforms + Mongolian Scourge. And unlike Dragoons, they don’t get free veteran tech to Age 3 so you’re going to have to upgrade them a bit more.
But China doesn’t get an arsenal, so they miss out on all the important upgrades from Arsenal like the ranged cavalry upgrades.
You can always buff all the wonders with exception of summer Palace and porcelain tower.
Give them different and better bonus when hiting age 2 to make them viable.
Also you could enable swedish consulate and give them bonus that would improve their age 2 play.
Torp wagons, you could use the same mechanic that Japanese use to train clubs and shinobis to train caroleans and leather canons.
you never want to do this if your opponents have age 3 units. This is a doable compo for china when no one else can do it ( well except india gurkha-zamburak) and thats my arguement. Maybe for an age 2 map control build.
You can come up with all kinds of age 2 builds for China. But ultimately their Age 2 is bad compared to everyone else. And its easy to understand why:
1 less villager in Age 1 than most civs.
No villager shipment or ressource trickle in Age 2.
No way to boom or go for some sort of economic playstyle.
The slowest Age 2 in the entire game.
China is one-dimensional. Their fortress is good like Germany and Spain. But unlike Germany or Spain, China’s age 1 and Age 2 is simply terrible.
Spain gets treasure control in Age 1 due to having dogs and can train dogs. European explorers are better at sniping treasures.
Germany gets 4 villagers in Age 1 and 6 villagers in Age 2 (2 and 3 Settler Wagons) which offers them the best economy at that point in the game so they can transition into a strong and fast Age 3. Ontop of that they get free Uhlans in Age 2 for strong mapcontrol.
Both Spain and Germany are top-tier civs that are picked all the time. Germany is always picked in Tournaments, so often in fact we see many German mirror matches.
This is why we suggest buffs to China age 2 by buffing the Russian and German consulate or suggestions like buffs to Flamethrowers and a 2 Flamethrower shipment and giving them a buff in Age 1.
Actually to dust off an old idea I had. Technically the refugee card doesn’t spawn a villager (if you send the refugee card at max vil pop it will get stuck on the loading clock).
It shows a unit called a migrant that costs 200 food. Maybe instead of spawning villagers, the card can send these migrant units, which might have more hp and gather rate then a normal vil in the same way that Germany has settler wagon. They probably just have to be a little bit worse then a cdb but better then vils to be worth it