Crossbowmen and Knights are over-dominating the meta in Castle Age, More Unit-Variety is better

An important issue in the current metagame.

I have felt that in DE(and same tendency in HD), crossbowmen and knights are two specific units that are being spammed by close to every civilization in the game regardless of that civ’s supposed area of mastery, strengths and weaknesses. The only exceptions I can see are the Meso/Indians/Saracens for knights and Spanish/Bulgarians/Burmese for the crossbows.

I believe that this leads to a very stale metagame and can easily become boring to watch even at the highest levels. Having bad melee pathing has worsened this issue with crossbow’s over-domination of the metagame, and the Knight similarly remains unchallanged among all castle age melee units, including all UUs.

I would love to see more unit variety such as Longswords, Camels(outside of Ind/Byz), Monks(not just in arena), Scorpions, Lancers and UUs like the Cataphract, Genoese Xbow, Shotel, Samurai, and so on to be used slightly more often*in the Castle Age specifically.

The Imperial age atleast has infantry units and UUs contributing to the metagame to some extent, hence the issue is only in Castle Age.

When there are tens of options available in Castle age, why should we still see only two units, Crossbowman and Knight be used all the time, regardless of which land map(except BF) it is?
Let us discuss.

Practically every game in the Crossbow-knight age

It is just SO EXCITING to see civs like Aztecs and Celts go exclusively archers and crossbows in the “Castle Age”, just like the Britons would! /S

NOTE: I hope you are not part of NCBW (No Changes Because Winrate) or NCBMW (No Changes Because More Work) blocs.
Let us discuss keeping an open mind.


My issue is with Longswordsman.

They should be far and away cost effective against Knights. They require far more upgrades (you need to go from Militia to Man-at-Arns to Longswordsman!!), are far slower, and still cost 60-70% of a Knight (unless you pay for supplies, which is an even greater investment).

Infantry is so expensive for what you get in Castle Age. Yes, the gold investment is far lower; but you lose mobility, HP, armor, and attack. Mobility being #1. If you lose mobility, all other stats should equal fairly even trades vs Knights if you have to fight them IMO.

If you wanted to equalize total resource investment, that would be like Bloodlines Knights with 2 armour upgrades vs unupgraded Longswordsman. Unless you count the stable, so 1 armour upgrade. Plus the armour they already have.

I think Longswordsman need more damage to be practical in Castle. Damage or HP.

Maybe a +1/+2 vs cavalry is the way to go, so they aren’t broken vs other units?


In order to see more use of other units, we would have to homogenize more units making them fairly generic.

We also see pikes, skirms, plumed archers, conquistadors, cav archers, light cav, monks, eagles, siege units and monks get common usage in castle age.

The point of the swordsman line isn’t to trade cost effectively with the knight line, its a trash killer.


I think we just have to accept some units have different roles in different ages. Camels, monks and scorpions are prettty common castle age units, mangonel+scorpion is very effective against xbows, rendering split micro ineffective. UUs other than Camel archers, conqs and plumes are just a huge investment low return in early castle age, mining stone before you get your third TC up is an economic setback


So question thats off topic.
Who is TriRem? I know he’s popular with the community but quite unsure why

They should be far and away cost effective against Knights. They require far more upgrades (you need to go from Militia to Man-at-Arns to Longswordsman!!), are far slower, and still cost 60-70% of a Knight (unless you pay for supplies, which is an even greater investment).

No, they shoudn’t. We have pikes and monks for that. Knights are already not that strong currently, due to having horrible pathfinding and the fact that they are not that effective against a large number of crossbows , due to the fact that they can stack on each other to a silly extent.

I agree that longswordmen feel like a pointless upgrade right now and this has always been the case. Aside a few exception, like goths building their deathball or malians having extra pierce armor, there is little point in producing longswordmen in castle age. The militia line in general is just meant to be a trash killer (aside some exception for a few civs). Maybe making the longswordman upgrade cheaper could help a bit though.


Mylord is a great connaisseur of the game and part of the balance committe

And he also works on Userpatch iirc

I thought about units I rarely see in Castle and the answer is: Longswords, Light cav, most UUs. And that’s it! Everything else will be used. Sure you don’t see, say, mass scorpions all day long, but they are a nice answer to archer when they keep microing your mangonel shots. Castle age is also the only age you will see steppe lancers, are they are good for picking vills/siege whe military numbers are still low.

Don’t know for you but as soon as the enemy goes cav I make camels.

Relics are on all maps, and Castle age is actually a great time to go relic hunting, especially as most opponents are distracted and will forget about them. Plus conversions are better with low numbers since the loss for their military and the gain for yours is proportionally bigger.

Besides the anti-archer use, they are nice to try as Celts and Khmer.

Maybe I’m mistaken but UUs are usable just fine in situations were Castle age is dragged out. I had a game where I went mass shotels (while the enemy had conqs) and found out that while villager repairs are annoying, said villagers die to shotel in 3 hits. These guys can eat the enemy eco REALLY fast.

Maybe this (while somewhat exagerated) explains why out of the box plays like going early ele are huge crowd pleasers, this kind of stuff.


I am a long time modder/occasional tournament admin/balance and design enthusiast.

Most people know will know me as one of the developers for WololoKingdoms, the port of HD to Userpatch and Voobly. While not part of the Userpatch team myself, I have been in contact with them extensively for WK.

Literal years of messing around modding the game has brought me in contact with several of the devs who are former modders, so I guess I kind of stumbled my way into being a relay to the devs in a way.


I would say the main reason Longswords and Light Cavalry don’t see more use in Castle Age, is that Players are using that Food to create more Villagers and those Units seem more expensive than they actually would are. In later stages of the game, Players would happily throw 2000+ Food to flood Hussars in the enemy eco.

As for Knights being so dominant in Melee fights, that’s just the 10 Attack and 2 Melee Armor putting in work. It’s hard for a 9 Attack Longswordsmen to compete with that.

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This is what I don’t understand.

From a technical standpoint. Longswords are slower, less armor, 60% (50% with Bloodlines) health, and less attack than a Knight. Even if they had equal attack and armor, it would still need 2-1 numbers to kill a knight, and the Knight could retreat at any point.

Even then, it would be barely cost effective. And that’s with massive buffs and Supplies; and the Knights can just run away on top of that! Why are Longswordsman so weak compared to Knights? Because they require gold units to counter them? They’re countered by Archers, Knights, and seige. That’s a lot. All of which are better army choices in general, and what any rational player will have in their arsenal. That relegates them to uselessness. Knights are only really countered by Pikeman, and they can easily run from any fights they don’t want. Infantry can’t run effectively from any fights.

Sure, they have a role as trash killers, but they’re not really good against much else. Scorpions and Mangonels kill trash super well too.

I know my understanding is limited compared to more experienced players, here, but why not increase the damage, armour, or both of the Swordsman line? +1 damage, even. Even with Supplies, they’re not really cost effective against anything but trash, of which they can only catch Skirmishers? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Edit 12:44pm EST: just modified my post, made an incorrect statement about cost effectiveness.


If we are being honest, I think what OP is saying, is that his favorite civ is Goths, or some other infantry civ, and they don’t start kicking butt until imp, so he wants infantry to get a buff. It is a fair point honestly. It is one thing for goths not to get an eco bonus, which is bad enough. Then, even if you survive feudal, you are not able to do much in castle, and pretty much have to stall until imp because the long swordman is disfavored. Honestly, I like AOE a lot and if it aint broke dont fix it, IMO. But OP is right.


I don’t think Crossbowman and Knights are the problem, as OP stated. They feel great to use. The issue is Longswordsman.

We need to agree on and analyze a few points to move forward.

  1. are Longswordsman underutilized? If so, why?

  2. are Longswordsman too weak compared to their alternatives? If so, is this properly reflected in their cost?

  3. what options for improving the unit can we come up with that won’t break game balance?

The power spike in Castle age with Knights and Crossbows is massive. Longswordsman are a big spike as well, just not nearly as big as those other two units.

The issue is simple, lack of mobility or range in a stage where aggression and gaining map control is important. Also where gold availability is not an issue


Okay, I know we don’t want to become Starcraft with unit abilities and over-micro etc, but is there any merit in adding a “charge” formation for swordsmen? Like if they are within so many tiles of the enemy, then they close the distance quicker with a charge?

Activated abilities were initially a thing planned for AOE2, but were scrapped. The closest thing we have now is auto-scout, which is also new.

I completely disagree. Light Cavalry beat Longswordsman handidly. 10v10 = 3 LC left. Did multiple tests with proper patrols. Obviously these types of tests are limited in scope, but LC offer more mobility (which is by far the greatest asset) than Longswords, they also counter gold units better (Archers, Knights, Monks, Seige), and they beat them 1 on 1. Does that make any sense to you? The LC has mobility, better attack, better LOS, better counters, and they lose to them. Bloodlines LC vs Longswords (which is about equal investment). If you fully upgrade them, the story is still identical, and even if you get Supplies, they’re barely cost effective while still costing Gold.

I’m not trying to troll or push my point just for the sake of it. But I haven’t heard one logical argument yet that Longswords do not need a buff. In my opinion, it’s broken in its current state. It doesn’t do anything in Castle Age that other units don’t accomplish better.


Why would you go for longswords when you have pikes?


And how do hussars trade against two hand and champions?

They ARE cost effective against knights, but only if you have an infantry civ like teutons, vikings, japs etc.

If you don’t have an infantry civ, then yes, they are bad.

Knights are supposed to be a really strong and multi-useful unit. Knights are supposed to trade well against all units except pikes and camels.

I don’t think longswordmans are actually bad, but buffing them a little bit would actually make the game better because variety is fun.

But then you might also want to buff shotelais or other infantry units that are not used that much aswell?. Then jaguar warriors would become more meta. Maybe see samurais more often, cathaphracts etc. The game would change in a good way in my opinion. What you think?

I don’t like giving longswords more pierce armor, because they are not supposed to trade wall against archers.