Changing Samurai to a cavalry unit?

My thought process started when I saw this image made be @Seicing:

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Everyone agrees that samurai need some sort of change to see more play, and this is because of a few issues:

  • Infantry units in general are weaker than cavalry and archers and/or serve little purpose. There’s no shortage of discussion around this so I won’t bore you guys with a rewrite of those arguments.

  • Japanese champion serves the same purpose but is much more accessible.

  • The samurai gimmick of having bonus vs unique units rarely comes into play because samurai die to archer UUs the same way normal infantry die to normal archers and cavalry UUs can run away. The only UUs they beat are infantry UUs and those aren’t used either.

In short, infantry bad → even if you want infantry champion easier to get to → the only situation samurai are significantly better than champions are against other infantry UUs and those aren’t common.

Benefits of making samurai a cavalry unit:

  • It would differentiate them from champion so you no longer would have to choose between easy to mass champs or slightly better but way harder to mass samurai.

  • I think this is the biggest reason for the change and it is that they would be able to actually use their bonus dmg against other UUs. The interaction with infantry UUs won’t change much but they would be able to chase up cavalry UU, cav archer UUs and archer UUs.

  • Bonus points: they look really cool and are more historically accurate horseback with spears (not 100% correct me if I’m wrong).

The stats would have to be reworked obviously. Cav samurai (cavurai?) can be balanced using one of two ways:

Either they are made cheap (relative to cavalry) but aren’t the best all round unit prompting you to make them when the enemy is making UUs but not when they aren’t. In this scenario their bonus damage and pierce armor will be low making them a soft counter so numbers will still play a big role in who wins (eg. 10 samurai still lose to 15 leitis, archer UUs can still kite etc.). A great example of this is camels, if the enemy has cavalry, you should make them, but if they use infantry, archers, monks or any other non cav unit then camels are a bad choice.

Or cav samurai can be balanced like cataphracts, slow and expensive but a better all-round unit that absolutely decimates its intended target (hard counter).

Potential issue with changing samurai:

  • The devs and fanbase might not be big fans of that radical a change to an original civilization.

  • Japanese don’t need buffs. I think it’s important to this is to look at the maps that this change might potentially change them.
    Arabia and open maps won’t change (not a UU meta).
    On closed maps like arena, I doubt that they’d break into s tier due to the meta revolving around cd gunpowder (can kite all melee units back to castle) smushes or booms into generic units which receive no bonus dmg from cav samurai and are faster to access. Although they might become obnoxious against certain matchups (Mongols?) though camels vs mangudai should be the same a as cav samurai vs mangudai and mangudai aren’t bad against camels.
    On hybrid maps they might become OP?

So, what do you guys think?

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Such a unit already exists.

The new sprite for this unit should be similar to this image.

Other than that, what you’re saying is basically replacing the current Samurai with this unit.
I don’t think people would want to see the foot Samurai leave the game, and introducing Samurai’s archer mode to deal the issues has accumulated some consensus in the community.

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While I agree that an archer samurai would also make them viable and allow them to fight other UUs, I feel they might become too good against other UUs and leave much less room for counter play than cavalry samurai (can be kited). I can’t imagine any UU standing a chance against them other than huskarls with some open space.

Of course, weaker stats might solve that so I’m unsure.

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i think a less intrusive change would be to double down on their anti-UU feature and make them take less damage from (ranged?) UUs. So suddenly japanese have a super strong option against longbows, cho-ko-nu, etc.

everything else that isnt just a minor stat or cost change seems like it would be too drastic of a change

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They would need to make a new armor class for that, but I suppose that’s not really a big hurdle.

I’d love to see infantry Samurai leave the game.

I’m against anything which makes the anti-UU damage more effective though. It’s very unfun in multiplayer games whenever it actually does anything. Scrap the Samurai anti-UU identity*.

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What would their (supposed) identity be then? just faster attacking infantry? If so, then they’d be even more similar to champion.

Take inspiration from history. They could be cav archers. They could be archers that can switch to melee (though longbowmen are also known to have carried swords). They could have a mechanic tied in with the Japanese interpretation of honour. (Anti-UU damage was inspired by honour, I just think it was a nice experiment that should be scrapped now that it has become clear that it failed.) They had light, relatively weak armour. And their swords would break if they hit medieval European heavy armour.

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What if Samurai have a similar shield like shirivamsha rider but only work for melee attacks?
Giving Samurai a little micro ability.
This change could followed with an attack nerf. This way, samurai could have quick, but weak attack and dodge one attack. You could hit some swings, retire to recharge the dodge and engage again.

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It wouldnt change much vs UUs unfortunately. Archers would still kite and kill them with easy. Infantry UUs they’d beat (but they aren’t common). And cavalry UUs would avoid them unless they had a significant advantage.

Maybe adding range attacns to the dodge ability?

Overall I think this is a reasonable proposition to allow the Samurai to become more viable, and the current (infantry) Samurai would remain as a popular unit in Scenarios and Campaigns.

The biggest con I see is that it is much more disruptive than just giving the current Samurai more speed and/or PA.
The biggest pro I see is that it would give the Samurai actual utility against most UUs (still bad vs. War Eles and Mamelukes) and would be easier to balance than a toggle mechanic. Also, a lot of people have been calling for the current Editor unit to get a sensible skin, and almost none of the cavalry in game (including UUs) look particularly Asian, (basically Mangudai and Keshik).

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Yeah my suggestion doesn’t solve the general balance issues infantry have, it runs away from it 11. Although them being weak to halbediers is a nice weakness that comes from making samurai cavalry that we wouldn’t get from simply making infantry samurai faster

I shared this idea in the hypotetical new bonus thread, butt I was frankly thinking in a Samurai reweork when I thought it.

An expensive UU that becomes stronger as far as they “learn” in battlefield. More simple, when a UU dies, the next trained UUs come with a little buff. Stackable up to 20 deaths. The buffs could be these:

1 to 4 deaths: +2 HP (each death)
5th death: +2 HP; +1 Attack; +1/1 Armor
6 to 9: +2 HP
10th : +2 HP; +1 Attack; +1/1 Armor
11 to 14: +2 HP
15th : +2 HP; +1 Attack; +1/1 Armor
16 to 19: +2 HP
20th : +7 HP; +2 Attack; +2/2 Armor

Total: +45 HP; +5 attack; +5/5 Armor

This UU is expensive and don’t have Elite upgrade, but if you burn it quickly they payoff early.

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Would definitely need some sort of counter to keep track of it all but otherwise seems like an interesting idea

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The Samurai is fine as it is. I play Japanese quite regularly (on hybrid maps such as Four Lakes) and find it quite useful to have the option. Just two recent examples:

  • Countering Hindustani Ghulam raids
  • Defending from at early Imp Viking siege ram push against castle
    Both in cases where main Japanese army was archers.
    Militia line would have been worse in both situations, due to upgrade costs/time and lack of a substantial number of barracks at the time in the game.

Sure, it’s a bit situational, but not every UU need to be the core identity of the civ.

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Yes, please leave legacy stuff alone.

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True.

The first situation makes sense, however the second situation sounds like you simply need an emergency melee unit on the field. A stable to make a few knights would have served the same purpose or literally any other melee UU. Defending from surprise ram pushes doesnt feel like a significant part of any UU identity.

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There’s a lot of flex room between (quite) situational and being the defining unit of the civ (e.g. Mangudai). I play Japanese frequently as well, and, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, Samurai can be decent in some roles, but using them is usually more a matter of convenience than optimization. Basically when the following conditions are met it becomes a good idea to make Samurai:

-You have 2+ Castles (not needing to make trebs/research UTs), but not a lot of barracks
-Enemy is making infantry UU
-You can end the game or establish a winning condition fairly quickly by adding Samurai to your comp. (The longer you’re making Samurai vs. non infantry UUs, the more their ~45% greater cost than swordsman line adds up).

This situational nature will be exacerbated if militia line gets the buff some people have been asking for, of reducing the upgrade time/cost (which I think would be good). Does this mean that Samurai need to become a cav unit? No, but I think less disruptive buffs (more PA, speed) are at least worth considering.

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True, but usually, the UUs that isn’t the core work as support (Throwing axeman, Ghbeto, Obuch) or serves to compensate some civ weaknesses. Which Samurai don’t do.
Which makes Samurai bonus even more awkward, because the concept “good against power units” just works for infantry.

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