Once upon a time, siege towers were born and they shot arrows. This ability was removed (probably for the best) and added was the ability to vault units over walls. In principle, sounds useful. However, since this change, siege towers are seldom seen in all areas of the game. There’s a number of reasons for this circumstance. Due to their niche potentially being the smallest in the game, the walling meta, and their absurd cost of 200 wood + 160 gold, siege towers are unappealing and inaccessible. Frankly, they’re a meme unit. An outright joke compared to the real, historical siege machine.
Let’s begin with the walling meta. Siege tower’s ability to deposit garrisons across walls is not generally useful since players make walls out of palisades, which are fairly destroyable in Castle Age, as well as unvaultable buildings such as houses, stables, etc… The only walls they’re good for hopping are stone walls, which aren’t the meta for walling anyways since players often rather save their stone. Essentially, they can only be a surprise option for a quick raid in Arena, but even then the 200 wood + 160 gold cost strongly discourages this. It’s better to build more archers and gain map control.
One thing they do have is speed (and pierce armor). They’re definitely faster than rams, so on rare occasions you’ll see them as siege taxis for helping infantry chase archers. That requires a lot of micro (especially with bad melee pathing), and again, the resource barrier is very expensive. In these situations it’s simply better to switch away from infantry and go for cavalry/skirms/mangonels.
So how can Siege Towers be made useful in a way that positively adds to the existing game? We can’t bring back arrows, no one wants medieval tanks. Before I get to my main proposal, I have an option for some simple ones:
- With their current niche, make siege towers cheaper. Something like 200w, 160g —> 160w, 120g
- Make siege towers able to deposit garrisons across houses and other buildings (bar some exceptions like castles, maybe military buildings).
- Potentially allow them to vault units over contiguous layers of walls/buildings. This presents a mid-game option against Black Forest wallers.
My main proposal is a different option completely, so please don’t consider it in light of those previous proposals. Also, let me preface this by saying I don’t want to break the game or cause a complete change to the meta of the game. I only want to propose a mechanic that will enhance the niche siege towers. My main proposal:
Let garrisoned siege towers besiege (convert) castles.
Obviously that sounds dangerous to the current meta of the game. And yes it could be if implemented wrong. But hear me out, I believe this change could add to the game if it is approached with that philosophy that it should be easier to destroy a castle than besiege it. There are probably lots of different ways this could be done without it being toxic to gameplay, but let me suggest the following:
- The high 200w+160g cost is the same. Could raise it, but I’d be hesitant since the garrison cost will already make the whole procedure more costly than trebs.
- Ungarrisoned siege towers either cannot move or have a very slow base speed. All garrison unit types count toward increasing its move speed.
- Even at their fastest speed, siege towers should still move relatively slow compared to their max speed in the current game.
- Potentially, when garrisoned siege towers are a certain distance away from a castle, reveal a small line-of-sight area (like firing trebs/etc.) so the enemy can see it coming.
- A garrison containing infantry is required to besiege a castle. Only infantry count toward the conversion rate. I’m tempted to exclude spearmen and eagles since they already have strong niches in the game.
- Archers/villagers/monks/etc. do not count toward the conversion rate.
- The more infantry garrisoned in the siege towers, the quicker the conversion rate. Maybe the rate increase per unit starts to drop off after 5.
- Likewise, additional garrisoned siege towers besieging a castle yield only slight increases in conversion time. Perhaps similar to the villager build time formula.
- Garrisoned units (of all types) in the castle each subtract from the conversion rate.
- Ultimately, it should take a decent chunk of time to besiege the castle to give the opponent time to respond.
- A progress bar should be shown to all players below the siege tower HP bar and in the HUD when you select it (like when you pack/unpack a treb).
- The castle owner cannot delete the castle while it is being besieged.
- The current HP of the castle does not affect the time to convert the castle (debatable).
- When a castle is converted, its HP is reduced to a maximum of somewhere between 25-40%.
- Freshly converted castles will not start firing arrows for a few seconds to allow the jettisoned castle units to escape.
- I don’t intend for any of this to be viable in early Castle Age. Castles should stand strong for most of Castle Age.
- If the cost isn’t enough of a barrier, maybe require one of the existing Castle Age university techs to be researched to unlock Treadmill crane makes sense but is hella expensive so I’m less thrilled about this idea.
- Even with this mechanic I’m still all for augmenting their wall-transporting abilities (Proposals 2 and maybe 3 from earlier).
That’s a lot of details. Even if this mechanic was implemented, I would never expect all these details to all be added. It’s just a vision for how I could see this mechanic could enrich siege in the game in a way that’s fun and not toxic.
Please let me know what you think! I understand some of these ideas may be controversial. Especially for a game that some of us have been enjoying for almost 20 years. At the very least, I hope it sparks some good discussion regarding siege towers!