TL;DR: The Militia line is very niche and could need some love. Suggestions to increase their viability are down below.
Reading multiple threads on the forums and reddit alike, I think there is major confusion about what role the Milita line occupies. One party is stating they are too weak while Crossbows and Knights are too dominant, others say they have a niche role as trash busters and are no „power unit“ (a unit that is really powerful with low upgrades) and therefore do not really need buffs.
This confusion might stem from the fact, that the barracks is the only military building with no such „power unit“, as opposed to the Knight, Crossbow or Mangonel, while still having a unit that costs gold. The main argument I have read about this discussion is that they, while costing gold, are not included in the main land counter triangle (Crossbows/Knights/Pikemen) and most people don‘t know when to use them except against Eagle Warriors. While it is true, the Militia line has use in Dark Age and early Feudal Age but not in Castle age, only to be seldomly seen in Imperial Age, because other units fulfill their role better. The Militia line does nothing really well while having a lot of technological hurdles to overcome to be effective. In my opinion the Militia line is bad at what they were originally intended to represent: a cheap and easy access multi purpose unit, that can do anything but nothing really well.
While the Militia line has good stats the tech-cost is so high that other options are way more attractive to mass in addition to the inherent weakness of low speed and therefore bad micro-ability.
Even though the Militia line is not a part of the main land counter triangle, this shows how high the technology cost is in Castle Age compared to the other options.
Archers 45g 25w 35 seconds
Fletching 100f 50g
Bodkin Arrow 200f 100g
Crossbowman upgrade 125f 75g (35 seconds)
(Ballistics 200w + 300w 175g) → Ballistics comes with a high wood investment and is usually delayed
TOTAL: 425f 400g 500w
Knights 75f 60g 30 seconds
Bloodlines 150f 100g
Scale Barding Armor 150f
Chain Barding Armor 250f 250g
Husbandry 150f → This technology is usually delayed in favor of two additional knights
TOTAL: 700f 350g
Militia 60f 20g 21 seconds
Man-at-arms upgrade 100f 40g (40 seconds)
Longs swordsman upgrade 200f 65g (45 seconds)
Supplies 150f 100g
Scale Mail Armor 100f
Chain Mail Armor 200f 100g
(Squires 100f) → usually delayed
(Arson 150f 50g) → usually delayed
TOTAL: 1000f 355g
As you can see, the total upgrade cost for the Militia line is significantly higher while also providing less value than Archers or Knights. Even the Skirmisher, Pikeman and Light Cavalry upgrades are more worthwhile than teching into LS, even though more buildings are required.
My ideas to make the Militia line more viable as the multipurpose unit that is easy to mass, yet not a “power unit“ (as discussed in multiple threads already) would be:
- Militia line cost reduction from 60f 20g → 50f 20g
- Supplies technology 150f 100g → 100f 100g, Militia line costs -15f → -10f
Comment: Right now the supplies technology has the same cost as Bloodlines while only affecting ONE unit, whereas Bloodlines affects ALL Stable units (up to four) and Unique Cavalry units. This change would encourage the use of the Militia line (for infantry civs) beyond the 3 MAA in the Feudal Age and is more in line with the idea of „cheap allrounder unit that is good in numbers“. This would also bring the discounted Militia line down from 45f 20g to 40f 20g.
- Long Swordsman technology 200f 65g → 150f 65g
Comment: A cost reduction would bring this tech more in line with the Light Cavalry and Crossbowman upgrade. While the stat boost from MAA to LS is substancial, it is held back by the upgrade time and cost and by the time you have teched two upgrades you are better off by just pumping Knights. The 2HS and Champion upgrade could also be adressed but I don‘t think they are the bottle neck at the moment.
Additional ideas that COULD work but are likely too strong in addition to the other suggestions, but might be useful individually:
- Creation time 21 seconds → 19 seconds (or even less)
Comment: Another change towards the „easy to mass but weak unit“ idea. This would increase the potential to mass the Militia line as a main army component/supplement or as a quick reaction to produce as a counter unit.
- Long Swordsman and onwards +0/1 armor
Comment: This is a controversial one because Longswords with 2 pierce armor would be even stronger at what they are already good at: eating TC and other buildings. In addition this would buff 2HS and Champions which are in a good spot in my opinion. This suggestion would push them more into the „power unit“ direction. Also imagine Malian Champs with 9 pierce armor lol.
- Militia line speed increase 0.9 → 1.0
Comment: A speed increase would unify the barracks units speed and enable the Militia line to close the gap faster to enemy Archers. However this might also make them stronger at what they are already good at: early aggression and rushing enemy buildings. Also keep in mind that Squires or Celt Champions with a movement speed of 1.1 or 1.15 are INCREDIBLY fast and might get out of hand quickly.
Final Comments: I think the Militia line is fine as it is, but the original idea of an all purpose cheap unit kind of disappeared after AOC (maybe because of Bloodlines Knights?). The ideas I suggested might result in a more frequent use of the Militia line (especially LS which need love the most), while not making them OP. I do not claim that these suggestions would fix LS or the Militia line in general and would love to hear your thougts and opinions on the presented ideas