Burgundian and Sicilian Unique Techs

I made a post about the unique techs for the two new civs shortly after they were announced (link here) outlining why I was worried about them. In summary, I was not excited about the one-time mechanic all the techs had and how reminiscient of AoE3 and AoM they were. I believed the new techs would be either useless or OP in different situations with no in between. Flemish Revolution is not only useless but detrimental if you research it in early or mid imp. But if the game gets to late imp and its a skirm-hussar-halb vs skirm-hussar-halb trashfest, with each player having 100 villagers, turning those 100 villagers INSTANTLY into what’s essentially two handed swordsmen with a bonus vs cavalry is an immense and game-ending powerspike the opponent cannot respond to assuming the two players are of equal skill.

In that post, I talked about how its going to be really really difficult to balance these unique techs such that they’re viable in most situations. Most of the unique techs scale with some other parameter and their one-time nature means changing the cost of the unique tech or its effect size (stats on flemish militia, ratio of food to gold converted, etc…) just determines in what situations the techs will be busted, and in what situations they’re useless. It will not make them more viable and balanced in most situations. It’ll also be difficult to even know whether these techs should be nerfed or buffed. Should flemish revolution be buffed to make it more viable in early and mid imp, or should it be nerfed to make it less viable in late imp?

Another reason why they’re flawed is because all of the tech effects scale with some in-game parameter. First Crusade’s effect size scales with the number of tcs you have, scutage scales with your and your allies’ military count, burgundian vineyards scales with your food stockpile, and flemish militia scales with your villager count. If the cost of the techs doesn’t also somehow scale with its effect, there will always be some optimal amount of that determinant to have beyond which it is always worth getting and before which it is never worth getting. Increasing the cost of burgundian vineyards will just force burgundian players to wait until their food count is at the new optimal point before researching it.

After having played with and against the new civs in the past week, in ranked 1v1s, in ranked team games, in unranked lobby games, and against friends, watching pros play with and against them, and talking with other members of the community with how they perceive or think of the new unique techs, I still think the issues surrounding the new unique techs are very much relevant and need fixing. The new unique techs are for the most part useless when played in a meta setting, especially in team games. Except for scutage (and first crusade in its current state) I do not see why players would ever give up all their food for some lesser amount of gold or sacrifice all their eco for units that are easily countered when trade is available. In 1v1s, though, if the game drags late, these techs can determine who wins. That is unlike any other tech in the game and must be addressed.

I have also gathered some suggestions I’ve seen on the reddit and the official AoE2 forums, alongside my own original ones, about how these techs can be changed fundamentally such that they’re easier to balance in most scenarios:

Burgundian Vineyards. The first half of the tech, where all your food is converted to gold, should not be a thing. The tech is perfectly fine for the sake of balance if all it did was allow farmers to generate a small trickle of gold. If the tech was too underwhelming, you increase the gold trickle. If the tech was too strong, you decrease the trickle. This is useful but not game-ending to get at all stages of 1v1s and team games. It doesn’t have the potential to set you behind more than the resources the tech costs, and is not a one-time mechanic that scales with some in-game parameter as strongly.

Flemish Revolution. I understand revolutions/Ragnarok exist and aren’t game-breaking in other AoE games. However, they exist and work with many civilizations, and in those games civilizations are muuuuuch more different from each other than the ones in aoe2. Aoe2 civs share the same basic tech tree, have the same basic mechanics, and are in some sweet spot in terms of game design between Starcraft and Civilization when it comes to civ differentiability. This is, I think, one thing that makes AoE2 unique in the RTS world. Massive effects like converting all your eco into military work in those games because every civ has access to a similarly gimmicky mechanic of their own. All European civs in AoE3 have access to revolution, and can respond to any other civ’s revolution with their own if all else fails. This does not apply to aoe2 and the current effect of the tech will forever be a nightmare for the game and its players.

Why not, instead of force converting all your villagers into military units, this tech unlocked the ability to upgrade villagers into flemish militia? After a Burgundian player has researched this tech, a button appears in the villager selection panel where you command them to build/repair/be deleted that can unlock that villager to flemish militia at a set cost of x food/gold. This tech can be useful in all stages of imperial age, and you can still turn your entire eco into military if you so wish, but the cost of doing so will now scale with how many villagers you have. Alternatively, if one part of your eco is being raided, you can upgrade those villagers to flemish militia, deal with the raiders, and then send them to the frontlines to fight while replacing that small group of raided villagers. It’s much more easy to balance compared to what the tech does currently because you can change the cost of converting a villager depending on how strong the tech actually ends up being in practice.

First Crusade. The best suggestions I’ve seen for this one have been: (1) town centers can create serjeants, (2) the next 30 serjeants are created for free, or (3) just change the cost of the tech/number of serjeants spawned/maximum number of tcs it applies to. All three of those can work, as the tech just provides way too much value for what it currently costs. This tech isn’t as flawed as the others because there’s a cap on how much it scales: 5 town centers. It is therefore possible to balance it with the tech’s cost and effect size.

Scutage. This tech is, depending on how many troops are on the field and its cost, doomed to be “stronger/weaker paper money.” The way it currently is, if the team has more than 33 military units per player then its stronger paper money, and fewer than that it’s weaker paper money. On top of suffering from the scale factor and one-time nature of the tech, it’s also horribly similar to an existing one. No matter how you change its cost or how much gold it gives per military unit, there will always be some amount of units that make this tech “stronger/weaker paper money.”

If the tech is aimed at being a team-oriented one, I would recommend “team trade carts created 100% faster” or “team trade cart gold cost replaced with increased wood cost.” This has practical applications, isn’t game-breaking, fits well with the civ historically, isn’t similar to any existing tech, and most importantly can be easily balanced depending on how strong it ends up being practically.

I hope whoever reads this understands I do not think the techs are, currently, completely OP and should be nerfed. I do not think that and believe for the most part they’re easy to deal with or just will not be researched. In the situations that they are, though, they’re too strong a powerspike to deal with without a similarly-strong powerspike of my own.

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I don’t like this mechanic. I would prefer that the UT only allows you to train flemish militia in TC’s. Just that. Without converting your villagers into flemish militia.

And balancing the tech from that perspective (making flemish militia very fast to create may be a good option).

Directly upgrading units (in this case villagers) is not an aoe2 thing.

And I agree. One time Unique techs are bad for the game balance.

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For sure, that suggestion works well too. I don’t know how useful it’ll be though, since Burgundians already get champions and halberdier; flemish militia is basically just a weaker champion but with a bonus vs cav. Champions and halberdier are available from barracks though, meaning there really is no reason to make flemish militia if you can only train them from town centers.
Your suggestion could work better if flemish militia had an insanely short creation time, then they’d be a good way to deal with raids to your eco in the late game.
The main reason I suggested my change is because it seems like the whole point of the tech was some villager upgrade/replacement, and upgrading villagers instead of a force mass conversion of villagers might be a good compromise with the devs, if the devs insist that vill replacement mechanic should be in the game.

yeah i think it should have a cost based on number of tcs. if you fire it up when you only have 3 tcs it costs less, and when it actually hits if you have more than 3, only 3 spawn.

this could affect games too much, for example it will either be useless or OP. a high trickle will make BF too good, a low trickle will make it meaningless in arabia.

i like this, but not sure how much coding it requires, and simply being able to train flem militia at the TC isnt enough

imo this is the only tech i dont like. the rest even if OP can be toned down and are very unique, scutage is just too situationally weird/OP…

i think 1st crusade is clearly OP. the others are situationally OP. 1st crusade even on 3 TCs gives really really good returns…

whereas with burg its mainly their UU that is OP

If they train fast, it is.

Even if it is situational, is still very bad for the game. They need a rework.

Personally, I can deal with units being op, but not with bad designed Unique techs like sicilian and burgundian ones.

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Of course the Coustillier is OP at the moment, but I think with a tweak of the unit’s stats and cost it can find a nice balance. The same can’t be said of the two Burgundian unique techs.
If you want to balance any other unique tech in the game, which gives a passive improvement, you can do so by changing either the cost of the tech or the effect of it. Changing the effect determines how strong the tech’s passive effect is, while changing the cost of the unique tech determines how early/late in the game the tech is viable. With these one-time unique techs that scale with your villager count or food count though, changing the cost of the tech and changing the effect of the tech both only determine at what stage the tech is strong in. If you increase the cost of burgundian vineyards, the window where the tech can be researched is moved later into the game. If you decrease how much gold is obtained from the nonsense food → gold trade, the burgundian player will just wait until they have more food and then get the tech for the same effect. It is therefore very difficult to change how strong the actual effect is, and you have to add conditions like “at a maximum cap of 2000 food” or something.
If it was just the farm trickle, though, you can change the effect of the tech by changing the trickle rate. Obviously, no tech is going to be perfectly balanced in every single map and game mode. Feitorias are OP on 1v1 islands games but useless in all other situations. At the least, you can change how strong the effect of a farm trickle is much easier than you can change how strong the effect of a one-time food to gold conversion is.

I apologize but I cannot see how the same gold trickle will be too strong on BF but meaningless on Arabia, nor can I understand how this and not earlier eco techs is what will make the civ too strong in BF but not arabia. Doesn’t that also apply to every other bonus and tech in the game? Of course, different techs are more/less impactful on various maps, but that has always been a part of the game, and with a farm trickle the ability to balance it easily is always there, while the same can’t be said with one-time techs.

I do not think you understood the argument I was making. What I explained in my post is exactly that the unique techs cannot be toned down in their effect size. Sure they’re very unique, but that’s not always a strength and “uniqueness” should not be an excuse for poor tech design. A tech must not scale and must be easy to balance, which the ones we currently have for these two civs do not satisfy.

Maybe a middle of the road for flemish militia could work, like only the farmers vills are converted to FM, so this way you could a bit control how much of them you want to upgrade, by diverting vills towards farms or other resources a second before the tech is researched.

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What about if Flemish Rev just convert vils that are garrisoned in TCs? So, you don’t lose all your eco, you can choose how many vils you want convert, you should have many TCs full garrisoned for really mass flemish militia. 3 TCs is a common number of TCs, it would result in 45 flemish militia.
I think anyway, Flemish revolution should cost according to how many vils are garrisoned and should researching instantly, like spies…

Honestly I was thinking the ability to upgrade villagers to flemish militia was already a good compromise between the existing tech and something completely different. Having only farmers or lumberjacks converted is a really weird and unnecessary workaround to allow players the freedom to choose which villagers are and which aren’t converted, especially when compared to the ability to upgrade villagers at a set cost per villager. When you have 100 or so villagers, its very time and attention consuming to make sure only x of them are farmers. A simple “upgrade to FM” button would accomplish the same effect but much more directly.

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arabia is generally a fast paced game, with rare trash wars, you will need a decent trickle for it to be effective, in BF you get to build monster basess and hide like crazy, if you had the same “decent trickle” it would be OP

its why the fetora is so weak in arabia, because otherwise it would be too good in BF or arena

I agree that the cost of Flemish Revolution should adjust to how many villagers are being upgraded, but the garrison mechanic is, similar to what I mentioned in my reply to DoctBaghi, an unnecessary workaround and condition to the tech. It’s still one-time and requires more attention to garrison however many villagers you want converted than a simple “upgrade to FM” button does. The “upgrade” button also can be used multiple times and that makes it much more viable than a one-time tech. Say you’re getting raided by a group of 15 hussars in one area of your base. You could garrison those villagers in your tc, get the flemish revolution tech, and let those units loose to fight the raiders, but because the flemish revolution tech was one-time you can’t do the same for the next raid. If you had the “upgrade” button though, you select those villagers that are being raided, click “upgrade,” get deducted 10 or something gold per villager in the group, and deal with the raiders. Since you can upgrade other villagers as well, you’ll be able to fight off future raids too. One-time techs is half the reason these techs are so gimmicky and difficult to balance.

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In that case, if we play around with a set trickle rate and it ends up being OP to the point where the BF meta is ruined and there’s no counter play, we can reduce the trickle. It’s better if the tech is nearly useless on arabia but just “strong” in BF than for the tech to be nearly useless on arabia and completely OP in other situations, which is the case with the current tech.
I really don’t think having an extra three relics trickle will ruin the BF meta though. The important part is, if it does, you can always decrease the trickle and things will be OK. The same cannot be said for a conversion of all your food into gold. The same cannot be accomplished by changing the amount of food converted to gold.

+1 I’m in favor of this. Above all, the cost becomes proportional to the number of upgraded units, which makes this less of a gimmick. Still, those units should be nerfed.

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This is not an aoe 2 mechanic and should not be made.

Okay, but neither is the existing unique tech. At the very least this is a mechanic that can be balanced much easier.

I’ve played Sicilians almost exclusively since their release, and have developed my own set of opinions about their UTs. First of all, I feel like First Crusade should be their Imp tech, because at that point it would be good for a big late-game push, while at the same time, if your fighting Sicilians, you don’t have to worry about 50 serjeants being dropped on you mid-Castle Age. Scutage is just kind of… meh. The fact that it costs gold doesn’t do it any favors either. I feel like if First Crusade were moved to Imp, then scutage should be replaced by some sort of tech called “Norman Adventurers” (or something along those lines), giving a buff to serjeants and/or knights.

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Flemish revolution is the worst UT since AoC introduce them.

Who would want to destroy their entire eco? if you are winning, why take such a risk? and if you are losing, what would you get from that?

Just replace the tech, make flemish militia avaible from the TC and I don’t know, give a bonus to halbs

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Cheap and fast-created flemish milita available from the tc could work. They should die after a a while, so they work as an anti-raiding unit

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I legitimately anticipated something similar to Spanish supremacy when they first announced details on the Burgundians, IE it would just have an effect like giving your villagers a new appearance and 1/1 armor + bonus damage against cavalry / ability to auto attack without micro or something(to make it a bit different to supremacy, lower bonus but they can defend themselves from cavalry raids without you having to individually click hussars etc.), so they would be harder to raid - not essentially kill them all and replace them with champions

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