(This post has been crossposted from the Steam AOE4 PUP Feedback Forums)
I am a 1400-1450 elo 1v1 player, who’s played over 800 games at this point, 90% of which have been with Chinese. I thought that I’d provide my thoughts on the Chinese balance changes in the PUP, which I’ve played about 5 Quick Match games on, since the PUP is going to close and the changes are going to be finalized soon.
Now, when I first read the PUP notes, I thought that the changes were going to be terrible for China. After playing with them for a bit, I no longer think that they are too bad. The nerfed Song granaries, for example, actually feel quite nice to use now. But there are a few changes that I think the devs should remove from the Spring Update. These are:
Ancient Techniques cost increase
Village cost increase
IO cost change
IO buildtime increase.
On the first two, I just think these are unnecessary nerfs that lower the power level of already well-balanced aspects of the civ. Ancient Techniques was never overpowered, and neither would three 100-wood villages be, even if you get them from the start now. But I want to focus on the IO changes.
I will start, by noting, that I agree with the IO supervision nerf - 200% was, frankly, a stupidly high boost, and unhealthy design. Was it overpowered? Not in the context of China’s power level as a whole. But it definitely wasn’t a good design.
However, the cost and build-speed nerfs are absolutely egregious, and should not be in the Spring update.
The cost change forces China to mine gold in Dark Age. Previously, it was viable for China to get to Feudal just through taxes. This decreases the variety of builds that the civ can do. For example, in the current patch I have a very fast 2TC Song build that gets the second TC basically immediately after hitting feudal, thanks to the fact that I can mine stone instead of gold in the Dark Age. That build is no longer viable in the PUP, thanks to the IO change. The IO should continue to only cost food.
The buildspeed change massively hurts China in the early game, where it is already weak. It means, by getting your 4 imperial officials (which you still want to get because they are a core bonus of playing China), you are now down 2 workers compared to the current patch (and more if you don’t get all 4 IO’s before Song). 2 workers may not seem like a lot, but just to compare, Abbasid Fresh foodstuffs is the equivalent of 2 free food workers per TC you have constantly producing. The pre-nerf Mongol Ovoo provided the equivalent of 2.5 workers of additional resources. Just losing 2 workers for free is actually a massive slowdown to the civ’s economy. And this hurts China in Dark and Feudal, where the civ is already weak. Making the weak points of a civ even weaker is not a healthy direction to take the civ, especially because China is not by any means overpowered at this time.
A second effect of the buildspeed nerf is that it means the IO can no longer supervise the first food turn-in in your standard IO first build. This essentially means that China has 12 less food after the first turn in - a minor, but not negligible, amount. Again, all this does is slow down the Chinese feudal, weakening the civ where it is already weak.
In summary, while I think the rest of the China changes are decent, the IO buildspeed and cost changes should not be in the final Spring Update. And the Ancient Techniques and Village nerfs are unnecessary.
I do, though, want to end off by thanking the devs for their hard work and continued efforts to make AOE4 a better, more complete game. I do think that the game overall will be in a very good state after the Spring Update, especially with modding and Ranked now available
EDIT: I did have another idea on changes they could make that would address the IO buildspeed nerf (which I think is the worst of the changes).Namely:
IO buildspeed is affected by Song Dynasty (which should cause it to take 20 seconds to build)
Imperial Academy can now produce IO’s