English are in a pretty weird spot right now. They have a great Feudal and post Imperial but they are probably the weakest civ in the Castle Age which is kind of where most games are determined. Right now good civ pretty much means you are strong at about the 15-20 minute mark. Good players don’t typically die to Feudal rushes and most other civs can get to Castle Age much faster than the English. Ever since the mangonel re-buff the English have gone tumbling down the tierlists. I think the overall weakness of English in Castle Age boils down to three things: economic bonus, army comp and lack of unique technologies in Castle Age. I’d like to see one or two changes that buff their Castle slightly and then nerf their Imperial slightly to compensate.
So the English farm bonus is great…sort of. Cheaper farms that gather faster. The problem is that you have to invest a lot of resources to get them going in order to even access your economic bonus. So basically, it isn’t anything special compared to what the other civs have as an early game bonus and but becomes very strong in the very late game. Having to gather the wood to access your bonus instead of just using the free food on the map typically means you fall a bit behind and reach Castle Age later. King’s Palace helps catch you back up but again the impact isn’t really felt until later in the game.
My idea for buffing their Castle Age through economy is to move the enclosures technology to Castle Age but cut the effect in half. (Meaning each farm would generate 1 gold every 7 seconds instead of 1 gold every 3.5 seconds). That way, you could get gold trickle going earlier in the game to help out in Castle, but it would be much weaker in the late game. This would also make it a little easier to afford knights which would help with the issue I will address next.
The English typically go for an army composition of longbows plus spears or men at arms. Sure, they can go FC knights, but they have no unique bonuses to either their knights or horsemen, so they just feel like a worse version of Rus or French so why bother. Anyway, the longbow + infantry composition works very well in Feudal but makes for a slow Castle Age timing. This isn’t good because it struggles badly against opposing Castle Age armies and does not age up well either so just getting to Castle Age yourself doesn’t really help. The English don’t get anything unique from Castle Age except for Armor Clad. While technically you get access to Network of Citadels, you can only get it if you either went with White Tower (lol) or build a keep. Regardless, the unique the English get don’t feel nearly as strong as something like Boyar’s Fortitude. The problem with infantry comps is that as soon as your opponent pops out a mangonel, you have a very hard time taking direct engagements and are too slow to chase down typical cavalry-based Castle Age armies that can raid you to death. (I know elephants are not fast but English like auto lose to Delhi anyway).
Historically the English often dismounted for battle so it is fine that they are mostly infantry based and yes infantry are slower. However, they took their iconic unit, the longbowmen, and made them move even slower than regular archers by giving them 1.12 movement speed (which is tied with maa). Spearmen move at little faster at 1.25 but are just not that great of units. Slow movement makes it hard for your infantry to dive siege, makes it very hard for your army to retreat and makes it difficult to chase down raids. The incoming siege tweaks might make mangonels a little less prevalent, but it pushes the meta more toward the cavalry units that you struggle to keep up with. Don’t get me wrong, Network of Castles is great and all, but the more mobile army typically gets to dictate the engagements. Anyway, the combination of mangonels making it hard to take direct fights and struggling to keep up with raids can leave you stuck in your base and is part of the reason the English feel so weak in Castle.
I have a few suggestions for improving Castle Age military:
Move arrow volley to Castle Age. It doesn’t really help with the lack of mobility problem but at least gives an attack rate buff that helps your damage output and lets you be a little less reliant on network of castles when it comes to taking fights.
Either increase the base movement of longbowmen so that it is the same as other archers, add a unique technology that speeds them up or give veteran longbowmen standard archer move speed. Sure, this would make it even easier to kite other archers and crossbowmen but longbowmen already beat them anyway. They would kite men at arms better but mostly only HRE makes maa and they already get a technology that increases movement speed so it’s fine. The only problem is that this would probably make longbowmen better at raiding so maybe reducing the 7 range (a bit much) to 6.5 or 6 would be fair to compensate. Even if it made them less powerful, I’d still prefer the faster movement, that way you have fewer issues with retreating/chasing raids/feeling stuck in your base.
Outright buffing a civ can be a little problematic. Everyone knows that English are extremely good in post Imp. In my opinion, the combination of cheap Wynguard trebs + Shattering Projectiles + a 25% or 50% attack rate buff from NOC is just a bit much. My idea is to remove the network of Castles effect from siege units. Trebs are supposed to be the slower but safer way to take down enemy buildings whereas bombards are faster but higher risk. With network or castles/citadels, English trebs are the best of both worlds which is a bit much in my opinion.
Anyway, these are just a few of the ideas I had. Feel free to let me know what your think or make some suggestions of your own, thanks.