It’s no brainer that we see a lot of interesting debates here about civilization or unit balance. But we all tend to come from different perspectives and it seems hard to reconcile those differences when we engage in those conversations.
I am simply curious to see if we as a community and lovers of this game can find some commonalities to what we believe a “balanced civilization" looks like.
Maybe this post could help guide future discussions about a “balanced civ” ought to be.
Having engaged in several discussions on here, I have learned that conversations about 1v1 balance is significantly different from treaty balance. So I reserve any comments for 1v1, but speak on what I think about treaty. I hope others can fill in the hole for 1v1 balanced civs look like, ought to be.
In my belief, I think civilizations like Germany and Spain are pretty balanced in terms of military in treaty for the following reasons:
Opinions on Endgame Military
Germany has strong, quality units with clear weaknesses. Uhlans have high damage, but low HP. War Wagons never seem to die and can really hurt cavalry, but also overkill easily and take 3 pop. Doppels are very, very good at what they do (fight hand cavalry and siege buildings), but they train slow, are relatively slow, and can still lose to mass skirms and cannons. They have decent skirms, but not the best. Although Germany does have access to some powerful units with clear strengths, they certainly are able to be countered and have their weak points.
Spain is another great example. Its military has what you could say, has “average units” (with the exception of the Lancer absolutely deleting infantry from the game). But they can all be super strong with the unique power of Unction. Spain has an ability that enables it beat a lot of other civs heads up with this strong attack boost. But it doesn’t make Spain invincible, as it still has its drawbacks - You could split your army so the missionaries can’t buff two armies at once. The HP of the units is unchanged, so you can technically still kill them with the same amount of DPS at them. And you could pressure and chase away the missionaries, reverting Spain’s army back to average units again. Although strong and tough as hell, you have options to out-play it.
In contrast, we have seen a time where a unit breaks the counter system and the game. A unit like the pre-nerf Swedish Carolean showed us what it looks like to not many weak points at all. This demonstrated “broken”: it was heavy infantry that stood toe-to-toe with skirmishers, and could kill them with unlimited charge. It served it’s anti-hand cav role too well, and also had multiple roles of being anti-goon and anti-skirm (with its charge).
And you could try to use artillery against them, but Swedish artillery produces super fast, making the artillery war considerably harder to win against to destroy the Carolean mass.
Thankfully they’ve been nerfed and are manageable now, but from what we saw, we learned what an imbalanced unit and military should NOT be – without weaknesses (or overcoming their weaknesses too easily).
The Lakota can be talked about as well, where you have a bunch of strong units with the ability to make them ridiculously stronger, but with drawbacks. The obvious drawbacks are that defended mortars can stop this strategy, Lakota has no cannon, and teepees have to constantly be destroyed and rebuilt to push forward (costing wood, in which Lakota has no viable, infinite way of sustaining and units are vulnerable while building).
You get the point? My belief is simple that a “balanced civ” ought to have clear, unique military strengths, but still have clear drawbacks from being any means “OP.” If a civ’s military doesn’t have weaknesses (pre-nerf Sweden) or an excess of benefits (France), then it’s OP. Japan arguably is up there with with its plethora of benefits and powerful, pop-efficient units, but I do concur with many people that Japan’s isn’t really OP due to an average endgame eco and lack of strong artillery.
Economically, I think there should be a baseline or “standard” for a civ’s endgame economic power.
Opinions on Endgame Economy
(1.) A civ should at least be able to support itself indefinitely under constant stress from reproducing units, but still enable it to be drained. (2) Have a viable way to get all three resources, and (3.) maybe have some unique perks that make the civ do something better than the other, but can’t be broken.
I think the Aztecs are a good example of what a decent endgame economy is. By no means a superstar, but you got everything you need. They have really fast food gathering from farming due to all their cards, but it’s not OP because they have use some villagers to dance on the CP and have lackluster gold gathering speed. Their units now cost mainly food and gold, and they can certainly rack up those infinite gold crates if they want to. They simply do just fine to support their militarial needs and doesn’t get super crazy big if you leave them alone. It does one thing better than a lot of civs (farming food fast) and is not OP by any means. This is great.
Pre-buff Dutch: This wasn’t great. The eco was awful with 50 settler cap, hence why you could drain Dutch easily. Even if they had a daunting 150 military pop capability, they couldn’t fight at that capacity all the time. Was helped with the settler cap raised, but it goes to show how a civilization with such a great military advantage could be really duped by its eco (cannot support itself indefinitely)
The same goes for the Lakota. You have a powerful military that can get ridiculously strong. But you’re on the lowest tiers of treaty, with the trash eco being one reason for it. You always inevitably lose steam, and fast (cannot support itself indefinitely)
Haudenosaunee: Still to this day, the Haudenosaunee does not have a viable or reliable way of getting wood indefinitely to support its miliarial needs. They rely heavily on wood to support production for their Tomahawks (musk), Kanya Horsemen (hussar), Mantlets, Siege Rams, and Light Cannons. Yet predictably and inevitably after wood runs out, the Hauds lose half of their military capabilities and become meh after some time. (lacks a viable way to get a vital resource)
TL/DR: In terms of treaty, my belief of a “balanced civ” means that a civilization can have outright miliarial strengths that can stomp others, but however, are not without weaknesses and have counter-able strategies or vulnerabilites that stop it from being OP.
Economically at bare minimum, civs should at least be able to support their constant endgame miliarial needs (regardless of how big or small their eco is), gets all 3 resources in some reliable way, and maybe has an economic perk or two that make some gathering faster than others.
Of course I’m talking about treaty balance, but what do you think about 1v1s when it comes to rushing or booming?
Without losing the unique mechanics of a civ, what end-state do you think a balanced civ should look like or be possible to do?