Giving Steppe Lancers a niche

Imo, the biggest problem faced by Steppe Lancer has nothing(directly) to do with their stats, it has to do with what role they’re meant to fill.

They’re cheaper than Knights, more expensive than Scouts, but don’t beat either one cost-effectively. They’re not particularly good against monks or siege, lacking damage bonuses or the cheapness and speed needed to be effective in those roles. They’re not good against infantry or cavalry. They can somewhat hit and run, but not as well as cavalry archers, which are actually designed to fill that role.

To put it bluntly, they don’t do ANYTHING well. Acceptably? Maybe. But well? No.

I think that any attempts at balancing them should be made with this in mind. You don’t want them just becoming a better version of an existing unit, because then, well, why build the other unit? Your total unit diversity remains the same and you’ve not added anything to the game, just moved stuff around and changed a unit portrait.

Now, first lets consider the few places they do function acceptably. 1: In narrow choke points, or bunched up. 2: Raiding villagers, where their range becomes more effective. 3: Acting as supporting units to other more durable units in large fights, where their range lets them deal damage from behind the front line.

Unfortunately, these are all fairly limited scenarios, and generally, you’ll probably not benefit as much from having the steppe lancers as opposed to having knights or scouts, which will function nearly as well in these roles, while having significant other utility as well.

But I think there’s one simple change that could make them able to fill these roles AND have a niche, as well.

Just buff their speed from 1.45 to 1.55. Leave all the other stats exactly the same.

Instantly, they are able to carry out all their existing roles much better, while offering the utility of being the fastest unit in the game. They still won’t trade cost effectively in most engagements, but they’ll be able to CHOOSE those engagements, rather than having them chosen for them. They’ll still be weak to archers, but they’ll be able to get away from or engage the archers at will. They’ll be able to harass villagers even better.

You still probably wont want a huge army of them, but you may well build 10-15 of them, bringing them in behind your more tanky heavy cavalry for a fight and withdrawing if it looks to be going poorly, and actually being able to run away effectively.

It MIGHT be overpowered, I won’t deny that. But it would give them a niche, a reason for being. And above all else, I think that’s what they truly need.


Just give them an Anti archer bonus, they could be so good against them with that +1 range…

Also cumans have more speed, mongoles more HP and tatars more armor… all great bonuses against archers, they just need an extra something to be a better option than knights, in that específic role


Trouble is, based on their low pierce armor, they’re not supposed to be a counter to archers. Knights do that best. At best you’ll end up making them functionally identical to knights in that one role while being inferior everywhere else.

They’re still cavalry, so they’ll never be terrible against archers like infantry are, but I don’t think that’s a role they can effectively fill and feel meaningful.


Their stats can be buffed a bit, like RoF and atk. Let it be the middle ground of knight and light cavalry.

1 Like

The trouble is, there IS no middle ground between the two. If you want to kill monks or be cheap, you’ll always go scouts. If you want better stats and have gold to burn, you go knights. There’s no circumstance where you want a unit that’s KINDA good against stuff while being KINDA expensive, as at that point you’re just sacrificing on all fronts for a unit whose only purpose is being mediocre at everything.

A great example of this is infantry. Except even they are at least good at killing trash and buildings. Steppe Lancers are like infantry without being good vs trash and buildings, which…is terrible.


If you prefer to give it a niche, granting bonus dmg vs certain units is a way. Bonus dmg vs cavalry would be too OP. Bonus dmg vs archers is not a good idea since it has lower PA than scout and knight, which can do the job much better. Bonus dmg vs siege seems lame comparing to knight. Perhaps giving bonus dmg vs infantry would be the best of all. Both Mongols and cumans lack HC.

But I still prefer to give slight stat buff first. Their dmg output is too low as a non-trash unit. Giving a niche can be considered if SL is still too weak.


Anti villager/trade unit is probably the best niche that can get, and fits historically.


The trouble is how they stack with other units of the same type. If they become the superior frontline combatant because you can stack 40 of them on one tile and kill anything, they’re not filling a new niche, they’re just replacing knights.

The niche I want them to fill is one that compliments other units, but doesn’t work well on their own. A unit that REALLY benefits from picking their fights carefully. Hence the extra speed.

Once you’ve given them the added speed so they can actually behave correctly, then you can consider slowly bumping their damage stats up until they’re in the right spot, but buffing their damage first will never have the desired result because they still can’t act right.

There is no much logic in SL… description says is weak vs archers but it has 1 PA, 1.45 speed, and +1 range.
I think 3 ways to give them a defined role:

  1. Anti archers: just give them +1 PA and +2 attack against CA. Same as Light Cav, but superior in the others stats against archers.

  2. Anti-Pikes: Remove pierce armor and give them +1 or +2 melee armor and +2 attack against pikes line.

  3. King of the Hill: give them 0/0 armor but, add some % to the Hill Bonus. Instead of standar %25, SL could have %35 of Hill Bonus. This way, you could choose to invest on knights, the sure bet, or invest less and take care of always fight with the hill Bonus on your favor for a really better trade.


Currently, I think cavalry archer do a much better job than SL given CA has a much better range. CA can compliment with other units well. I don’t think SL can provide better support from the back. SL stats is simply too bad to do the job, even extra speed is granted.

That’s true, especially right now. That’s why giving them that bonus speed is so important. Giving 1.55 speed to HCAs would make them absurdly broken, because you could micro them infinitely. Giving a unit with 1 range 1.55 speed doesn’t make them broken, because micro is still very challenging to pull off without taking lots of damage yourself.

This lets them take proper advantage of their other benefits, like their higher health, and the fact they do melee damage rather than pierce damage. For example, an HCA does 4 damage to a paladin, while an ESL will do 10. It also unlocks their potential to serve as raiding and tactical units, to support in one place, pull back to safety, raid and retreat, and in general make a huge nuisance of themselves.

I’d consider more attack but a slower attack speed, so they end up worse in prolonged engagements but even better at raiding


Give them more HP or PA armor or bonus attack and they would be fine. Of course the versión we have now is not good enough.

But the only role I see for them is to counter archers, You can engage knights with knights but is also common to see camels… if SL could have the same effectiveness than knights while being a cheaper option they would be a very viable option

1 Like

Again, we’re running into the problem of niche overlap. Knights already fill the anti-archer niche very effectively. So do scouts, honestly. Having a third anti-archer option isn’t going to expand the game, it’ll either give you a unit good enough to replace the current option, or it won’t be good enough and nothing will have changed. FU Paladins do 66% more damage to FU arbs and are 160% more durable. The amount of buffs you’d need to match that, even considering the lower price point, would be insane, and would completely change the character of the unit.

You don’t need yet another anti-archer cavalry option. At best, nothing will have changed.

But by giving them additional speed, by making them the fastest unit in the game, you’ll be giving them a niche no other unit in the game can fill.

If steppe lancers need something, it is only a cost reduction from 70food to 60, and from 45 gold to 35.

1 Like

Directing to some past suggestions of giving him a niche:
Making the Steppe lancer a raiding unit:

Making the Steppe lancer anti archer cav (not a big fan anymore of that idea, since melee pathfinding has vastly improved since then and made knights pretty balanced against archers):

Making the Steppe lancer a rewarding micro intensive unit:

But since most of them are massive reworks I kind of like this your idea of making them the fastest unit ingame.

Hey bros…so i see a lot of one sided arguments here…

First off. Leitis boyar konnik keshiks all exist so there is tons of room between kt and scout.

Tatars and mongols don’t have paladins, nevermind that it’s an unearthly expensive tech

Cumans have a huge speed bonus.

So if the SL is 1.55 how oppressive would a cuman one be? How would a non archer civ even deal with them?

Archers are known for stacking on single tiles. SL extra range would help immensely here if they had an attack bonus v archers when mixed with scouts or kts

Many players make multi unit compositions. Hussars + CA. Aka sometimes you want a less gold intensive shield in front of your CA.

The SL could be a less gold intensive knight, but bulkier scout.

One of the big weaknesses of cuman double tc is siege. If SL had an attack bonus v siege it would mean as soon as they get to castle age they can more effectively start countering the stuff that is eating their base. Mongols already have the best anti siege so doesn’t buff them that much,but also buys them some time until they get there (especially if this potential mangudai nerf goes through to force them out of a single unit to counter everything in the world)

Tatars get bonus PA on their SL while cumans can spam theirs. Both lend themselves to a bulkier but still high speed raiding unit which is cheaper and faster than the kt. Meaning you can get in and out before the opponent can respond. The exorbitant cost /tech just holds them back

Tatars struggle v goths and likely malian infantry. They have terrible infantry. So the SL could gain a smallish bonus v infantry and cavalry armour or possibly higher MA. Remove all PA so it is even harder countered by archers but helps a lot more vs infantry than either the kt or scout. Because this is likely the hardest variant to balance, i would give bonus v vils as well but lower the base dps even further. So kts still beat them cost effectively but it eats vils and infantry better than kts.

So there’s tons of options besides for kt and scout…

Yes let’s give q unit which can already take favorable trades against infantry and cavalry due to its range and give it bonus damage against archers on top of it.

Make SL cheaper imho and give it bonus vs villagers and trade units

A knight takes 14.4 seconds to kill a steppe lancer, a steppe lancer takes 41.4 seconds to kill a knight.
That is some really extensive micro that you need there for them to take a favourable engagement, considering they are still 85% of the cost of the knight and 80% of the training time.

the extra range allows SL, especially when paired with say cavalry archers (of which, all 3 SL civs use) to take extremely favorable trades against infantry, and it also gives them an inherent advantage against other melee units as well.
there is no sense in giving such a unit an even bigger advantage against archers then they already have with their increased stacking and the ability to attack from 1 range.

1 Like