Controversial Opinion: Caracole Should Not Give +2 Range to LCs (Originally: Decrease LC Range to 10)

Based on current discussions, a lot of people have disagreed with the idea of reducing LC range to 10, and with good reasons (although I don’t think it would make LCs useless by any stretch). Thus, I am instead proposing that Caracole should remove its +2 range (maybe replaced by some other benefits). I am wondering what is everyone’s opinion on this?

LCs (Light Cav) are a somewhat problematic unit class in AOE3. They are one of the fastest units in the game and can outrange everything except skirms and artillery once Caracole is researched. This makes LCs hard to counter, since:

  • LCs counter heavy cavalry and artillery, and can shoot-and-scoot heavy infantry (excluding snaplock Carolean).
  • While the textbook response is to counter LCs with skirms, not every civ gets good skirms (see Russians, Aztecs).
  • Covering the weakness of LCs is trivially easy by creating your own (better) skirms or artillery. Often, this devolves battles into skirm-goon positioning matches, where muskets and hussars are useless.

Thus I am wondering if it would be feasible to nerf LCs in the following manner:

  • Nerf most LCs to a range of 10.
  • Disciplined/Honored Keshik each gives +1 range for Keshik (up to 12 range). This is because China do not have Caracole, Keshik is very fragile, and banner armies make creating goon-skirm compositions very hard.
  • Decrease Yabusame range to 16. To compensate, it can gain a bit more artillery bonus damage or have a bit more range resistance. While Yabusame deals relatively low-damage, they still outrange some skirm/foot archers, which is problematic for counter purposes.
  • For African and Native civs, the nerf should be applied on a case-by-case level based on both civ identity and available LC-related techs/cards. (For example, Sioux can keep their 12-range LCs per civ identity, and that their roster focuses on making cav-only compositions viable.)

This way, LCs can still have the initiative on picking fights. However:

  • LCs have to contend with the threat of musketeers. This makes muskets as a soft LC counter a lot more viable since even with Caracole research, most dragoons will only have a range of 12 (instead of 14).
  • This would also make musket-hussar-artillery a potentially feasible (if subpar) option for beating goon-skirm-artillery compositions, which increases the late-game unit variety. This is because LCs attempting to snipe down cannons must be more aware of the opponent’s muskets. Furthermore, since dragoons must move closer to snipe cannons, they are at greater risk of leaving their skirms exposed to opponent’s hussars.
  • With these changes, Port dragoons now have 16-range (instead of 18). This still forces players to use skirmishers, but is no longer as oppressive against the Aztecs (don’t have to ship Centeotl just to get 18 range slingers) and Russians (don’t have to ship Strelet Horde and research Imperial Strelet just to get 18 range).
  • Otherwise, LCs can still raid and kill cavalry with ease and operate functionally the same as they do now.

I understand that this suggestion to nerf LC range is potentially controversial. However, I also think that having a unit that is both faster and outranges most units is a problematic game design. Thus, I am wondering if anyone else has any similar thoughts.


I disagree, I think it’s fine as it is.

Dragoons aren’t op units for any civ, there was a time where javelin riders were but they got nerfed.
In age 2 musks counter them, in age 3 when they get caracole you also get skirms which counter them even harder. They only have a multi vs cav and artillery so pretty much any other unit beats them cost effectively.


Regulars have 14 range too

This would kill the category

I wouldn’t say controversial, just bad, and i hate all cav in general just to say that i’m not biased toward LC

It only outrange normal musk, not most units

I don’t think decreasing the range to 10 (12 with caracole) is the way to go, albeit I don’t like the fact dragoon units outrange musketeers. I ´d prefer an arsenal tech to increase range to +2 for musketeer units (and remove everything else that increase musketeer range)

I support your will to discuss this matter, even though we might disagree on the solution.

I don’t think this is generally an issue. Right now the only really busted light cav are the ones with stupidly high melee attack and the recent adjustment to their light infantry multiplier may have alleviated the worst of that.

There are a few exceptions like Hakkapelit and Javelin Riders who’s more melee focused role would suit having shorter range, but overall light cavalry range is fine how it is.


First of all, thanks everyone your feedback. As expected, a lot of people disagree with the idea. This is fine, as the intent of this post is to have a a discussion on whether LCs are properly balanced. In retrospect, I think that 12-range LCs are generally fine. What is not, however are:

  • 14-range LCs sniping falconets protected by muskets without notable losses. This makes musket somewhat useless in later ages. This also bolsters the goon-skirm composition, which is problematic because goon-skirms tend to only be beaten by other goon-skirm(+art) combinations, limiting late game unit diversity.
  • LCs are only hard countered by LI, which is only one unit class. This means civs with bad LIs have limited options. Note that other unit classes tend to have two counters:
    1. HC (Heavy Cav): countered by HI and LC
    2. LI (Light Inf): countered by HC and Art
    3. HI (Heavy Inf): countered by LI and Art
    4. Art (Artillery): countered by HC and LC

Thus, I think the problem is that Caracole should not give the extra +2 range (maybe replaced by some other benefits). I am wondering what are everyone’s opinion on this?

Furthermore, a few response to some of the comments:

The problem is in Age 3, only skirms really counter them. Otherwise, with a significant group of muskets+falconet vs. a significant group of skirm+goon/cav archers (later Fortress or Industrial), Muskets can eventually win in a shoot-out against goons/cav archers, but often not before they snipe some falconets and retreats. After, the skirms can mop up the muskets through hit-and-run.

This means cav and artillery (2/3 of the major unit classes) are not good against dragoons. And for infantry, only LI is a hard counter.

Noted, other examples include Maigadi and Azap (16 range). However, in general, when you see a musketeer/ashigaru/sepoy, it has 12 range.

With 14-range dragoons, 12-range muskets cannot adequately protect falconets. This means musket is currently useless in the late game, since LI and Art both kill them quite efficiently.

Note also that muskets cannot raid or harass effectively late game, since they have a speed of 4 (4.5 for ashigaru). Other other hand Dragoons can with their 7 speed (6.75 for cav archers). Sure, LCs have malus against settlers, but a raid with 10 dragoons will force the opponent settlers to run, regardless of the malus.

Fair. 14-range dragoons only out-range HCs and most HIs. However, they also kill artillery. So only LIs really matter as a counter.

I think it would be better to remove the Caracole +2 range increase. Had the game only come with the 8 European civs, I would agree with a late game +2 range tech for musketeers (maybe not for Janissaries). However, in the current game, many units designs are based around the thresholds of 12-range (musket range) and 20-range (skirm range). Thus, for balance, it would be way easier to modify LC range.

I don’t see this as a problem, skirms are cheap and trade effectively. If they want to get close enough to snipe falcs then musk still soft counter them and they take a lot of losses.

Musks are also a soft counter, it’s also not easy to perfectly kite musks with dragoons as for the same cost you’d have twice as many musks and you can split them. I really don’t see ranged cav as some kind of oppressive unit, it does it’s job and loses to its counters as it should. It’s not like skirms/light inf is some hard to obtain unit.

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Unit diversity cannot be forced like this. Some unit composition will always be better than the other. If you nerf skirm goon, musk huss will become meta. People will use the most viable option there is.

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euro musks deals more damage to light cav then euro skirms, its not a general rule. the advantage of skirms is the range

With 12-ranged dragoons, I would agree. With 14-ranged dragoons, that can become a problem. If your musketeers are slightly out-of-position (for example, got distracted and starts sieging buildings), then the dragoons can get a free volley without your musket dealing effective counter fire.

Furthermore, I would argue that 14-range Dragoon makes Hussars less useful. For example, if I have 25 Musketeers guarding 2 Falconet, and the enemy has 10 Hussars, he will probably not charge straight in. The Hussars could be intercepted and snared, such that he might not kill even one Falconet. However, with 10 Dragoons, he could probably kill one Falconet so long as he does not directly charge to into the range of my Musketeer, and possibly even both Falconets if I was inattentive or distracted. Admittedly, maybe this says more about my Falconet micro, but I think similar scenarios are not uncommon in Fortress/Industrial games.

That in itself is true. However, this also raises an interesting point that Musketeers and Dragoons are actually competing for the same role, that of ranged anti-cav. Furthermore, they are both counter by LI. My question is then when is it better to create Musketeer once Dragoons become available, especially once Caracole is researched. For example:

  • Portugal gets Royal Guards on both Musketeers and Dragoons. When should I use their Musketeer instead of their Dragoon?
  • If I am playing against the Ottomans and expect a 5-Sipahi raid, should I stick with greater number of Musketeers or create some Dragoons?
  • I am English and playing against a French player that creates Cuirassier and Artillery (very expensive), but I feel that I still have the economy to outlast his. Do I train Redcoat Musketeers or Guard Dragoons?
  • The Dutch have to, figuratively speaking, jump through hoops to get Blue Guard Musketeer. What advantage does creating Blue Guards have over Ruyters (is the shadow tech even worth it)?

Note that Dragoons can pick fights against just about every units and retreat at will (they tend not to get snared if you micro them). Musketeer cannot pick fight effectively and tend to die against cannons.

First, I don’t think keeping Dragoon range to 12 (by remove the +2 range from Caracole) will nerf skirm-goon to the point of uselessness. Moreover, even if somehow musket-hussar compositions became meta (as was the case in history), Skirmishers and Dragoons are still useful as raiders:

  • Skirmishers have 20 range, outranging most units except other LIs and artillery. This means that a group of 10 Skirmishers can force engagement in a way that Musketeers and Hussars cannot, and can run faster than most cannons if fights go sour.
  • Dragoons might have a malus against Settlers, but 10 Dragoons will force enemy Settlers to run regardless. They don’t get snared as easily as Hussars and are faster than Musketeers.

So Skirmishers and Dragoons can always be annoying to the enemy even if they are not meta. Can we say the same about Musketeers (dies to artilleries and LIs before they can even fight) and Hussars (have to avoid getting snared by HIs or chased by LCs)?

I agree with the range advantage. However, both Musketeers and Skirmishers should do the same amount of damage. Correct my math if I am wrong:

Musketeer (Age 2):
23 Damage.

Skirmisher (Dutch, Age 2)
15*0.6*2.5=22.5 Damage.

They are about the same.

Usually portugal don’t make musks so never however musks are better at blocking artillery either from dragoons or hand cav.

Dragoons because you can kite and spahi do area damage.

Dragoons because they counter both the cuirassiers and the artillery, again area damage cav isn’t a good fight for infantry.

They cost the same as a regular musk but shadow tech and get promotions so they’re very cost efficient, they also get more overall upgrades both in techs and cards than ruyters do. You can FI making blue guard, get 2 factories making heavy cannons and they make a great combo.

Also in general musketeers have far higher siege and are much more population and resource efficient than dragoons due to the number of upgrades and cards a lot of civs have for musketeers. In advanced arsenal musketeers have 4 techs compared to 1 for dragoons, same with cards for many civs. The only negative to them is poor range so they must be paired with artillery to avoid being kited by skirms once you’re in fortress age.

At least most of civs have light cav. But not all have muskets…so we need to make musk less strong, not make it stronger (at countering LC).

its about the same but it makes a difference since atleast for standard euro goons it means they die one shot sooner at range

goon have 20 range resist which works out to 250 range hp at 200 base hp

250/23 =10.86 (so 11 shots)

250/22.5 = 11.1 (so 12 shots)

knowing how to body block your artillery and maintaing your mass discipline is a lot more important than the range of the light cav.

even at 14 range LC are taking significant risk if they try to dive against artillery since they will have to get close enough that they will face full musk or skirm fire or even worse get meleed by musket which is basically death

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stop turning the game into more and more musk, huss and zmove with melee units. Just give skirm more Multiplayer versus Goons and start balancing some Skirms and its fine. Why everyone asks any day for a buff to musketeers? lol
Musk-Units are already not good for the Countersystem overall. Its not needed that they perform better.


I really don’t see Goons even as a decent counter to artillery in general in the first place.

Just for comparison sake, a falconett without any boost has what: 200 hp and 75% range resist. A goon has 22 x 2 ranged damage against arty so 44 but only does 1/3rd of that actually. You require 14 goons to oneshot a falconett.

I am sorry but just no, even disregarding pop efficency, the ressources you require to one shoot a falc with dragoons is stupid and melee on goons is a death sentence because there will be infantry around that will fold them together with ease, regardless if they are skirms or musks, nvm dedicated melee units, or even hussars equivalents.

And in regards of obsoleting musks on ports f.e. Dragoons don’t do well in pushes because they barely can torch something down. Musks quite frankly are the only realistic infantry for the ports to do so and protect artillery.

Imma play Devil’s Advocate and say that this is a good change for late game, where skirm-goon combos dominate the scene.

Unless your civ is exceptional with another unit(french/lakota/Ottomans) vast majority of late game comps center around skirm-goon comps with a few other units mixed in to counter it.

if we want to reduce range though I think the easiest way is jus remove the range effect of caracole rather the adjusting range unit by unit.

Since when are skirm goon good at raiding? lol

The best unit for raiding is hand cav, second best is musks. Cav because they are tanky and can run away. Musks because they are cheap, tanky and can relatively defend themselves against other units.

If someone is raiding with skirm goon, that is just bad use of units. I think you really overestimating the power of goons. And skirm-goon is not even the dominant combo since DE. Many more civs are are doing musk skirm, musk cannon, cav musk etc. Or even musk musk in case of sweden lol.

You have got this backwards. You can just move back if you see poking skirmishers. But if hussars snare you, you have no choice but to fight. So hussars are the one who can force fights.

10 dragoons will force vills to run, 10 hussars will kill half of those vills.

Most Musks can take a cannon fire or two, and in mass can walk upto it and kill it.

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I agree with this, it is too strong for a unit with such speed, and in the case of Portugal it is just broken. Can dive into a situation by taking very little risk or losses.

I don’t like this, not every civ has an Arsenal.

First of all, nice thread. It is one of the best in a while.

That being said, I mostly do not agree with the premises. Mostly.
LC is very inefficient at killing artillery. Musket balls can still defend artillery from LC (except the port dragoon, but that’s special in its own way) by simply staying a bit in front of the artillery towards the LC, and not on top as you normally would with HC.

However, I think the range upgrade should come in industrial age, not in fortress age.

Muskets are indeed mostly useless in the late game, except for some very specific match ups. But I think that is a problem of the musket, rather than LC. They should all get 14 range (it makes zero sense how a pistol can have bigger range than a long barrel musket anyways!), and I have been advocating for this for a long time.