How I would nerf France without touching Royal Knights

So, I think a lot of people want to see Royal Knights put into the ground alongside Chivalry.

However, I think this would be bad for the game in the long run because it would hurt the identity of the French Civ. If their cavalry scares you, good, that’s how its supposed to work.

However, there are clearly some problems with France. I think those problems come not from the Royal Knight themselves, but from how simple and easy it is to mass royal knights and research chivalry without sacrificing other aspects of your economy.

I also don’t necessarily feel that the villager production rate is the issue. This bonus amounts to a bonus villager every 3 minutes. This is obviously strong, but it isn’t strong during feudal age. French is an economic civ, so they do deserve a strong economic bonus, and this one isn’t currently contributing to their absurd power in nearly as direct of a way as the other bonuses.

The French have the following bonuses to their fast-knights strategy:

  • Halved wood cost for gathering buildings: massively simplifies your opening and reduces the number of villagers needed on wood.
  • No need for a stable because of your landmark, saving you another 150 wood early.
  • Your blacksmith gives you a free tech, saving you even more gold.
  • Your eco techs are reduced in price, saving you potentially even more gold.

These things combine to mean that French have an easy time being able to consistently get 240 resource cost Knights out, even if they are pressured during Dark Age. They reduce the demand on gold for other things, reduce the villagers needed on wood, and basically guarantee that the French player is going to get his Knights online.

They also leave the French player with a strong economy despite their commitment to Knights. Consider a comparison to the English: Longbow rush is very powerful, but by going hard into longbows, english players tend to pull villagers off gold (preventing a rapid age up) and expend large amounts of wood (delaying a second TC). Meanwhile, the French require very little wood to maintain their economy and very little to set up their military, meaning that their TC is only mildly delayed. Furthermore, they are optimizing their economy for food and gold, which can convert into a rapid Age 3 the moment they pause producing Knights.

I’d like to see them:

  • Get rid of the half cost dropoff points - this itself should be the core economic bonus of a faction, not tacked onto French.
  • Get rid of the free blacksmith tech - if the French wants to spend his gold on Chivalry and Knights, he should at least have to delay his damage upgrades for it.
  • Change the bonus for economic techs to only impact the food/wood cost of those technologies.
  • Increase the gold cost of chivalry to 275 gold. Seriously, why is this technology cheaper than Professional scouts?

These changes would:

  • Slow down the French opening by making them need earlier and more wood.
  • Make it more of a tradeoff to go for School of Cavalry (since the market landmark would provide better gold generation).
  • Overall make Knight spam a choice rather than something you can just do while also dropping 2nd TC and outbooming.
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I totally understand that people love the early knight, I get that the French are a cav civ and schould therefore get cool bonuses around it. All those economic bonuses you talked about are strong, no question about that and some should be tuned down. The crux of the matter though is the knight itself.

The knight dictates the pace of the game. It is a unit that beats all other units (in feudal) and if it gets outnumbered it is faster than any other unit and can run away. I don’t care about your economic bonuses, because the sheer presence of the knight can cause idle villager time for me. The knight is your true economic bonus

I have been playing france as a main civ and I chose them because it fits my playstyle.
I consider myself to be mid level players atm so idk if i am the most indicated to talk about balance I do have a few suggestions though that could help.
First one is moving chivalry to age 3 as its an extremely convenient upgrade to be used on age 2. This will encourage players to be more careful with their knights since it is a big investment.
Second one is remove free attack upgrade from the blacksmith, as this gives a big advantage to french too, specially when the Knight already have higher bonus damage on charge.
The final one is for water maps and it is to move hulk to age 3 and give them the galley with the option to upgrade to gallease on age3, this would very likely to bring their strength on water on par with other civs

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I watched a “pro” game (Viper [English] vs Hera [French]) where he massed spearman and intermixed with Crossbows against French. It went late game and it involved a lot of early harass but it looked to have worked. Here is the link: The English Dark Age Rush | English vs French | vs Hera - YouTube

I think the French cav is an early favorite in the meta and will likely be outdone at some point. It probably needs a nerf but it’s so early in the process.