Hand Cannoneers are still underpowered

We literally have a civ which gets the HC (an imperial unit with supposed “advantages”) in the Castle Age (an AGE earlier), and we HARDLY EVER see them making it.
They always go for Chemistry Crossbows over HCs in Castle Age.
Imagine of they had Arbalest an age earlier. Everyone would pick the civ and go for Arbalest.
This means the order of preference is clearly Arbalest > Crossbow > HC.

Also, for those saying civs with bonuses on HCs will make use of them:
Let’s compare the new Hindustani +2 range HC to Briton +2 Range Arbalest

  1. Briton Arbs get the +2 range for free (not through Castle → UT)
  2. Briton Arbs fire 50% faster than HC (even without thumb ring), and higher accuracy, making their dps better than HC
  3. Briton Arbs cost -25 resources
  4. Briton Arbs also get +1 range extra with UT if needed
  5. Briton Arbs are massable in Castle age as crossbows
  6. Briton Arbs don’t need the costly Chemistry research to be done
  7. Briton Arbs are easier to micro with the lower frame delay and higher attack rate

Is this for real? They literally just buffed Hindustanis’ (old Indians’) Hand Cannoneers by a lot (extra Melee & Pierce Armour and Range).

HC should never ever be able to beat even generic Arbalests, otherwise chaos in the game’s balance would ensue.


I actually agree here that the HC seemingly still don’t reall shine in most situations.
Also in the current RF Tournament where there are a lot of units which HC should be decent against we basically never see them. We see a lot of Heavy Cav, Eles and also halbs. Also not rarely goth floods. But HC are seen quite rarely there to counter it.

I recently made a vote what people think about the current state of hc and most people put them in a like “average” to “usable” status. But I can’t really see it currently really.

I also would like to ask what should be the role of HC actually? What purpose is theirs?

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Dealing with mass Infantry in Imperial Age, but not beating Archers 1v1.


I believe Hand Cannoneers see less use in Castle Age also because they cost food instead of wood. Easier to boom behind Archers than going HCs.


We hardly ever see any form of uniqueness in the current meta, when was the last time you’ve seen anyone goes for Camel Archer as Berbers on Arabia as his mid-game win condition?
Meta is strictly about Archery Range and mass TCs in the new Arabia. So it’s not just HCs.

Arbalest > HC > Crossbow

And even then it’s not too accurate:

  1. Crossbows do nothing to Plate Barding Armor Cavalry Units, HC do.
  2. Arbalester is less efficient than HC in low numbers.
  3. Yes, Arbalesters are better overall, they should be, it’s what defines Archer civ from a generic civ, unlike HC it requires heavy investment and commitment, and again, mass.

That’s an injustified comparison, Britons are an example of a very poor civ design for so many reasons, Britons Arbalesters shouldn’t have +3 range in a perfect reasonable world. We should have better idols when we compare.
Besides that I do agree with you Hindustani +2 range is bad, especially when considering how poor HC accuracy gets the longer the range becomes. I’d either make it +3 range OR +2 range and an accuracy bonus.

So to conclude, HCs are underpowered, but far from being an urgent case. We have so many other abandoned units to address, and on top of all of these- to fix the meta/map.


I’m not really sure how this is true:

When you can’t even place TCs half the time.

If that was the case we’d see players go for HCs after Chemistry not Crossbows after Chemistry in Castle Age with the Bohemians, please read the OP again, you’ll get the logic

Let’s talk about the above

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Hand cannoneers suffer from 3 problems

  1. They can’t be massed before imperial age.
  2. They cost more resources than the unit they’re supposed to counter, and they can’t counter it without a meat shield.
  3. They’re impossible to micro, they waste a lot of damage.

Imagine this, enemy is coming to you with a ball of 40 eagle warriors, you somehow managed to get 30 hand cannoneers and some longsword/hussar or whatever to give the HCs the time to shoot. HC needs just 4 shots to kill an EEW (6 for Mayans’). This means that if you focus fire them you waste like 80-85% of your potential damage with each volley.
Compare a ball of Cavaliers against a ball of 40-50 arbalesters, again you managed to put some pike to slow them and protect a bit the arbalesters. Arbs need 35 shots to kill a FU cavalier. If you split your ball into 2 groups you can easily waste 0% of your damage, but even if you focused all your units on a single cavalier the amount of damage wasted would be less than 30%.
There’s a reason high damage units without area of effect (like conquistadores) are good in small numbers in castle age, and fall off in Imperial Age.
No amount of buffs could change the problems of HCs in my opinion. They do 27 dmg (33,5 for Burgundians) to infantry with slow rof => loads of overkill and wasted damage.
And if you don’t micro them, I’m not sure the auto targeting system of the game would mitigate the waste of damage.
As a straight infantry counter, Incas’ Slinger is way better at the job.
Much faster rof, much less overkill (still present, but not so extreme), cheaper, trainable since Castle age).


Hand cannons with 2 extra range and no bonus accuracy will perform worse than the generic ones.

Make thumb ring affect hand cannons (and skirmishers while you are at it, because they are bad in post imp too, much worse than huss and halb).

Or some other solution that is more widely applicable and won’t change the post imp dynamics of giving hand cannons to civs with bad arbs, or inversely- hand cannons, like for bohemians that lack thumb ring, which would limit the potential of the new hand cannons.

Another solution is to just drop the low accuracy schtick, it’s just poor design to even try to balance the unit when half the time it may not hit anything for 10 seconds and the other time it might land 4 in a row.

CA, HC, Jan, Conq deserve accuracy on par with the crossbow line in the respective ages, with elite UU upgrades giving 100%.

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I see your point, I also think every underpowered unit should be addressed as soon as we can.

Its not as if changing certain aspects of HCs will disallow changes for other underpowered units like Steppe Lancers, Turtle ships, Genitours or Missionaries.

For sure, the gunpowder units have been really inconsistent and unreliable, and need to have higher accuracy for sure.

People were saying “this is the fix gunpowder has been waiting for”, but just increasing bullet speed has not proven to be significant.

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Honestly, a lot of what is being said here doesn’t make any sense. Gunpowder with 100% accuracy? More range makes units less accurate? What are you talking about?

  1. Let’s adress the accuracy part. While Age2 isn’t a historical simulator, it is still historically inspired and gunpowder weapons weren’t accurate. At all. They were used because you needed like a week training and it was cheap because you could enlist peasants to wield the gun. That’s it. IF HC need a buff, they could be cheaper or faster to train, but they are not a straight upgrade to archers. Stop treating them like they are archers.

  2. More range doesn’t make units less accurate. It makes them shoot earlier. As someone else said elsewhere (I think CactusSteak?) no one complains about Janissary accuracy either. Current Indian HC are straight up better Janissaries but somehow you guys think they are useless. +2 range is an insane buff to HC, not only because they shoot even earlier, but they outrange arbs, skirmishers and onagers. They actually beat every unit from the barracks and archery range (except HCA).

I suggest you guys test those techs before you complain about it here. Same goes for saying Indians are bad when they have constantly 53% win rate.


Yes I said this would be great too, gunpowder needs buff , that’s the main point
Accuracy buff is also good, it won’t be 100% ofcourse
Even if they do get 100% accuracy as you are afraid of, they still wont have ballistics, so no need to panic

If I compare Hand cannoners to Crossbowmen:


  • easy to mass from feudal age abd before researching alchemy
  • do not cost food, which make them affordable early and mid game
  • are accurate, which makes it easy to focus fire / kite units 1-by-1 in low number
  • benefit balistics, which makes them easier for skirmishes and to kill villagers
  • require fetching and bodkin arrows to be useful

Hand cannoners:

  • deal a lot of damage at low range, which allow them to kill melee units with high pierce armor
  • have low accuracy, which allow them do deal splash damage when focussing fire
  • “only” need balistics to be useful

So in early castle age, I would make crossbows rather than hand cannoners and research alchemy, ballistics, and bodkin arrow. I would transit to hand cannoners in one of the following situations:

  • I have been in castle age for a long time and have my farm eco up and running
  • fighting eagles or huskalrs (I also need a meatshied)
  • enemy makes lot of skirms (I also need a meatshied)
  • enemy manages to get to imperial (long before me) and produces non-archer units (+4 cavalry, malian infantry)

I would have nothing against hand cannoners being faster to train or cheaper

The last bohemian player i faced in a 4v4 arabia went mass hand cannoneers in castle age.

The last 2 or 3 bohemians in arena went that too.

It is being used

Hand Cannoneers still suck but less than last year.

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Ofc it does. That’s like the basic mechanic of how ranged units works. If an archer unit has 80% accuracy it does ao at its max range. If you reduce the distance you get higher accuracy. That’s why even arambai have high accuracy when they stand next to their targets. However the same applies to prolonging distance. Hcs base accuracy applies to 7 range. So if you researched shatagni with indians you got 8 range but also lower accuracy. Which is why nobody uses the tech. And which is why new shatagni effect probably will be useless again if it doesn’t come with more accuracy to keep the accuracy at max range at 75%.

Tbf even when there is infantry on the field hc are super bad in team games as they are bad against unit comps. Which is why outside of countering infantry in low mobility settings their…

… purpose is to be used in low to mid eco situations. Like you see hc quite a lot on arena with 2 tc imp play for instance. In full boom scenarios the unit is rather bad for all the reason people mentioned here already (fires to slowly, a lot of wasted dmg on one unit and so on) and in 1 tc scearios you probably have not enough food to produce them. But I think the 2 tc scenario is really arena specific. On open maps you basically only make the unit to defend vs eagles or so (and even that’s akward) or maybe if you’re Burgundians and you are milea ahead in wco so you can actually to afford to produce paladin hc comp (which is usually impossible with any other civ unless you’ve won the game already).

I agree with this one. Hand cannon have their niche purposes where they are quite good and they generally fare a bit better than they used to but the unit still isn’t especially great.


Really? Maybe people who random Bohemians and stick to familiar crossbow. But when FC is possible, HC is much better choice and it is better to play Bohemians strength.
I have seen Bohemians castle age HC quite strong in the tournament like WWC or Master of Socotra 2. Such as Daut used Bohemians HC in semi-final of WWC. No player go crossbow for Bohemians.

HC are quite good. Well used for civ with good bonus like Bohemians, Burgundians (Janissary is better for Turks) and late game situationally good for cavalry civ for countering halbs (Franks, Lithuanians, Berbers ) or countering eagle civ in imp.

It is fairly frequently used considering they comes late and more games in open map end before reaching that point. I think 1v1 Arena is the mode they shine most.

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I think they shouldn’t be as good as Janissary tho. Gunpowder Units themselves are supposed to be very late game units which is represented by researching chemistry first. If HC is buffed, most of gunpowder unique units should be buffed too, of course the elite version as we more often see Turks HCA rather than Elite Janisarry or Spanish Paladin rather than Elite Conquistador. Set aside both UU, now HCs are already much better against infantry which makes infantry themselves especially the Unique Units worse. Castle Age HCs are situational unit. However, researching chemistry in castle age or while imping is a huge investment for Bohemians as the player could do direct transition to HC and BBC, remembering that they don’t have access to Thumb Ring. Indeed, no matter what HCs are still not comparable with arbalests in many situations. They cost more and are less viable in mass. But the current HCs are somewhat fine and acceptable due to the fast projectile speed and high accuracy. Even if there were a buff for them, I’d like to give HC +1 attack but -2 bonus damage against infantry, this small thing allows HC to kill arbalest in 3 hits instead of 4. If there were a new civ relating to advanced HC, I’d like to introduce a tech namely “Matchlock” where HCs even Gunpowder units’ projectile speed faster. Also, I am not a fan of ranged units having 100% accuracy after Thumb Ring. Archers are not supposed to have 100% accuracy no matter what as it’ll be reasonable if it comes to 95%.

Probably the best assessment in this thread. IMO hand cannons are only really worth making if you have a good civ bonus for them and/or get them earlier than usual (and a handful of hyper-niche situations). I frequently make them as Spanish because faster firing is a fairly strong bonus. But if I’m say, Goths, trying to make them to beat a stronger infantry civ, it’s probably gonna be over soon. Personally, I’d like to see their scatter damage work in the same way as the Arambai - low accuracy, but able to inflict high damage on a crowd. I’m not sure if the same mechanic is at play with both units, but if so, there’s something weird about the way HCs miss such that they kind of suck at crowd damage. I’d even be okay with lower accuracy if they had strong scatter damage like arambai.