How can knights be balanced at one pop/supply?

To disclaim, I am by no means an expert player, and I’m as much posting this to find out why I am wrong as to prove to you that I’m right

Obviously knights, particularly Royal Knights, are quite controversial at the moment. It seems almost inevitable that this is going to lead to various nerfs once Relic starts patching the game, but I’m struggling a bit to see -how- these units can ever be balanced without a significant rethink. It’s one thing to balance them in the early game, but they are enormously far away from being balanced in the late game too.

Right now the immediate problem is that knights are too strong from a cost efficiency point of view. It is very hard to deal with knights for less than the cost of a knight, even if you know exactly what is coming your way. Their hard counters, spearmen and crossbowmen, can be built 3:1 and 2:1 respectively for the same cost, but actually fighting knights with those numbers leads to at best pyhrric victories. This seems at odds with the concept of a hard counter. If you end up in a battle where your opponent’s army is a hard counter to yours (e.g. you use a lot of knights and they use a mass of spears and crossbowmen) you shouldn’t simply lose you should be left in tatters. And that isn’t happening right now and that clearly needs to be addressed.

But even if the cost efficiency of knights was more reasonable, it wouldn’t get away from the equally serious problem that knights are much more pop efficient than the other core units. The other five core units (the archer, crossbowman, spearman, man-at-arms and horseman) cost 80, 120, 80, 120, and 120 resources respectively. The knight comes in at a massive 240, and that leads to a scenario where once you start pushing near population limits the knight becomes a no brainer unit even if it gets appropriately nerfed.

If you need >100 units to counter 50 knights efficiently (i.e. by using the units that are designed for the job) the reality is you can’t actually counter fifty knights efficiently. Sure, you can build an army made up of fifty spearmen and fifty crossbowmen and you might just about beat fifty knights… but if they have anything else you’re going to get massacred. And you will get massacred because an army designed to defeat knights is incredibly vulnerable to other things. The only general purpose solution to “my opponent has a lot of knights” is “have a lot of knights” because it’s the only way to mitigate the massive difference in strength that you can have with knights, and without, given the population limit.

The basic point is that even if everything is well balanced from a cost efficiency point of view, there are still going to major issues in the late game if there isn’t also balance in terms of population efficiency. When the cost / population of units starts to vary wildly, things break down pretty fast. The five other core units in the game represent 80-120 resources per population. It stands to reason that the knight needs to be around the same place. That can be achieved by making a weaker, cheaper knight, or it can be achieved by making the knight take two population rather than one.

Obviously AoE4 already features several units that do take more than one population. Siege units take three population each, as do elephants. These units range from 133 cost/pop all the way up to 333 cost/pop. The argument I’ve created above to show why I think knights’ population efficiency makes them imbalanced would also suggest that the more expensive siege units and elephants are also imbalanced, which I’m not sure I believe. But I do think there is one fairly clear differentiation here in the sense that these units are very different from the knight. They are high risk/reward units where the knight is the most versatile unit in the game.

So that’s kind of where I am at with respect to knights. I think it’s a shame that they are so dominant that it feels like you have little choice but to start amassing your own as you reach late game. I’m a little surprised that they are such a massive outlier compared to the other core units in the game – but I do think having them contributing 2 pop would be a pretty good way of balancing their mid-late game strength.

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I agree 100%. Units should have a supply cost that somewhat correlates to their power. Knights should be 2 supply or it will never be possible to counter them if both players are near max supply.

Also by changing the unit to 2 supply you encourage mixed armies instead of mono armies.

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I would be fine with the 1 Pop size IF the knight counter units would counter them more convincingly or if the knight would be nerfed.

But generally I agree with your point

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I would rather knights have their stats, cost, and build time reduced than be made to cost 2 pop.

Overall I like the current design of knights. It is really challenging to sustain knights production like you can sustain spearman/crossbow production and reaching 200 population with mostly knights is a good sign you are playing better than your opponent. A slight buff to imperial age pikemen would be a good change if they continue to be dominant a month or two from now.

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If you get to 200 pop with knights you deserve it. But by that point enemy can make gunpowder units so there is a counter actualy.

Problem is early French inmortal selfhealing knight if anything. I like heavy cav to be a little on the strong side since they did rule a Battlefield in these times.

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Anything can be balanced at any supply. Supply is just one of several dials that can be tuned such as health, armor, speed, damage, cost, etc…

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I agree that supplies alone doesn’t make the unit impossible to balance. Nonetheless I do think it’s still a reasonable idea to make them cost 2 pop. But I would then also like the popcap to be raised to 300 or so. I wouldn’t realy like to see smaller armies. AoM had military units with different population requirements (i.e. 2 for infantry, 3 for cavalry, etc.). That was fine but the total pop-limit was quite low so investing in cavalry automatically meant that you would not be able to field an impressive army at all.

Or it’s a sign that you are a noob, playing a game against other noobs.

In those games hardly anybody really attacks before imperial and 200 cap reached.

They are terrified of leaving their base until they have a powerful army. They enjoy walling off, building their base and their dream army, and then it’s an all in giant battle, and someone gets stomped. Game over.

True lol. At that point streltsy / siege / elephants are way better than knights anyway so I don’t think it will be too big of a balance issue at that level.

Since we are stuck at 200 pop I disagree with anything that leads to even less units on the battlefield.
Gunpowder counters mass cavalry without problems, leave it at that.

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I like the 1 supply cost for most units - changing that would just reduce the overall army size you can field. You just balance it with cost (or unit stats on top of that if needed).

Knights could be dropped 40 hp from 190 base to 150 base and maybe lose 1 pierce armor base and probably be fine, alot easier to deal with by their respective counters, Crossbows could have their damage increased and their bonus damage increased while slowing their fire rate to hard focus the anti armor aspect over just being a replacement for archers.

could keep them at 1 pop if they just nerfed how tanky they are to the damage that is supposed to counter them.

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My sugestion is that knights just shouldn’t get access to torches. They’'ll need other units to get through wooden walls, and they can’t brute force their way through spearmen to zerg rush artillery. You’ll actually need light moresmen to flank if you want to burn up artillery, and it fixes a lot of issues with early game french knights.

I’d definitely be okay with this way of solving the cost/pop quandary. A knight designed around a cost of ~130-150 would be interesting for sure.

Obviously. My concern is that balancing the knight in the early game can be done with a small tweak, but balancing it into the later game such that it doesn’t make the other five core units largely redundant takes a much bigger one.

Yes it probably would justify a bump to the population cap, albeit maybe not quite such a large one!

I’ve probably been neglecting gunpowder units a bit when it comes to this, so I’ll give that more of a try when I next end up in this scenario. It kind of sounds like a shame either way though – I guess personally I’d like to see a change which makes those five other core units a little bit more

You can’t ignore pop. Siege units, ships and elephants contribute more than 1 pop for a reason. Cavalry are, out of the units everyone has, a massive outlier when it comes to their strength and price for a one supply unit.

bad idea to make 2 sup.
Why?
In age game, it’s fun to throw armies in the IMP.
2 pop will reduce number of units in the armies and that will kill TG games. It’s so fun to throw armies in TGs.

Aoe - partly is economic strategy, that means that u should be able eco efficiently counter units.
In the formula u should consider also time for creation.

I agree pikes are quite useless, and should be buffed a little, but 2 pop supply will destroy fun from throwing units into death.

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they won’t be balanced at 1 supply

they’ll be tuned so that they’re the best overall unit in 1v1, and a reasonable option even on chokepoint-based maps

and that will be the lower end of their power level range

in every other land map situation (especially 3v3/4v4), they’ll be stronger than that

there are some other strong units at 1 pop (eg. rus/china gunpowder), but at least that requires age 4. that strategy is announced and not disruptive

the knights create the conditions that make them overpowered. starting from feudal age, they will force people to invest in spears instead of advancement, which slows down the game and makes it more likely to reach the supply limit. the knight player can’t be attacked early, so they get to decide where combat happens, and they can spread it out to create a game where mobility is what matters most

and it scales based on player count. just having the option to make feudal knights forces everyone on the other team to prepare for them (because one player’s spears cannot chase the knights around as they go harass allied villagers), regardless of whether or not an attack is even coming

horsemen are different. if i need to prepare for a horsemen raid, i can make my own horsemen. if the attack doesn’t come i can still use the army for something else. but that doesn’t work against knights

I’m struggling a little with some of the acronyms you’re using, I think, but I don’t think I agree. Right now I’m finding that knights make the meta in the later game less interesting because they are basically a must-have unit. They’re the one unit you can’t really afford not to have, and they make a lot of other units feel somewhat redundant.

You can’t though. As much as I’m talking about pop efficiency in this thread, it’s also true to say that knights are too cost efficient which means you are fighting a losing battle if you try to counter them late game. If you build enough pikes/crossbows to counter a mass of knights you will have no other units and lose. It’s far safer to match them knight for knight and try and find your advantage elsewhere.

I want to see variety and to be constantly trying to figure out what mixture of units to build to outdo my opponent. But I don’t really feel that’s what the game is coming down to at the moment.

(Twitch)[Kasva vs viper]
The game is somewhere at 4+ hours, they played for 2 hours(one game). (just check a few minutes of play, to feel how it’s played ). game is the best illustration how to throw units into death and queue new units.
It’s not even 4-4, just 1vs1. in TGs u will meet this type of fights constantly.

In TGs u dont have time to run away, becuse often u have 2 front lines on different side of the map, if u run avay → u immediately will lose position and supply buildings.

Spearman 15 sec to create with HP per resources 1.63
Knight 35(!) sec to create with HP per resources 1.13
Spearman - cost efficient (also wood are collected faster than gold) and produced faster
+ fight can last more than minute, so u have 30 seconds to support ur army with spears twice.
source: Turnspender's Aoe4 Data Sheet - Release Version (21/10/28-) - Google Sheets

The game is not only one fight, u need constantly produce units from multiple baraks/stables, build suply buildings in the fromt line, so spears will emmidiatly fight.

If u wait, collect resources and army - and somehow can afford 100+ kts, it wont be balanced…

Knights should stay as is even for French. What should happen is the counter system need a mid to late game buff. Pikes and crossbows and cav archers do more than efficient work vs knights cost for cost IN THE EARLY TO MID GAME. But the late game gives calvary in general more buffs than infantry and civ that specialize in calvary get even more!!! Give pikes in age 4 the ability to counter cav in general by 4 times base dmg or just give pikes specifically heavy cav bonus equal to having 4 times base dmg. Likewise give crossbows the same treatment.

Imo what makes the game fun is the counter system. It’s not fun for me when late game is seige hand cannon knights… until you go broke and start spaming “trash”

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For me I think knight are easily countered mid to late games… But hard to deal with at early game.(Yes French knight)
2rd age counter: super massive production of spear and archer(Abandon going 3rd age, one wave, win or lose)
3rd age counter: spears + crossbow, some springler.
4th age counter: gunpowder units + siege weapon.