How to nerf Knights?

Knight definitely needs nerf but it shouldn’t be major one, my proposal is:

  • Pikeman bonus attack against Cavalry increased from +22 to +24.
  • Camel Rider bonus attack against Cavalry increased from +9 to +10.
  • Knight training time increased from 30s to 35s.
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not a major one, just 3 sperate nerfs, including one that will slow the time to mass for them by 1/6th.

yeah okay…


Isn’t Knight already massed fast. 30s for 60f 75g. Eagle Warrior has 35s second for 20f 50g. Of course 2 units are different but even 35s second is good training time for 60f 75g unit. 2 Stable will be still enough to mass enough Knights.

I would start with this.


and what is the training time of elite eagle warrior? also, unlike eagles, knights actually have trash weaknesses, n2m monks…
Eagles are also downright cheap on the food side, making it very easy to flood with them.
for the same amount of workers to sustain 2 stable knights, i could sustain 4 barracks eagle flood, and have 4 extra workers on food for booming.

or how about not nerfing them 3 seperate ways…

I would be fine with a training time increase ALONE, but not the other nerfs on top of that.


Yeah right.
If we compare the TTs of Knights and X-bows in respect to the efficiency of their buildings, we would put Knights TT at 52 s. Then both buildings would be comparable in their efficiency.

I don’t think a TT increase a good leverage, as it’s one of the main differences of the units that you need way less stables for Knight production than Ranges for X-Bows.
But IF we talk about an adjustment there, we would need to start making this comparison.

If the increased cost of Crossbowman upgrade is effective in curbing the strength of archers, then it may be a good way to also give Knights a start-up cost.

We could have a tech similar to supplies.
Increase the Gold cost of Knights, Camels, Steppe Lancers and Shrivamsha by 15.
Then this tech would reduces the Gold cost of Stable Cavalry by 15.

Can ofc also be attempted with food, but then light cav has to be excluded or adjusted in another fashion.

Then Knights could start at 75 F 75 G which would be reduced to 75 F 60 G if you follow my argument that Cavalier fall off a bit too heavy in the very lategame.

Certain civs like Poles could just not get that tech.

This way we would kind of preserve the early castle age Knight rush, but reduce the power of Knights + booming, whilst all-in Knight plays would stay almost the same, just adding that small cost for that Supplies like tech, which isn’t that big if you mass Knights.

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According to your description, it should include Battle Elephants too, otherwise it would buff them in the late game.

Let me imagine, this tech might cost 200 food and 200 gold, making all non-UU Stable units (or only Knight) cost -15 gold. At the same time, the initial gold cost of the non-UU Stable units (or only Knight) is +15.

It’s fine for Poles as long as Szlachta Privileges is changed from -60% to -40%.
The Persians could have it free in honor of them being the originator of the class of heavy cavalry.

Yeah I’m not sure if it should affect eles…
Imo Eles atm just are total mess and would need a complete overhaul.

That’s a bit muh, Something in between 150 and 250 total res would probably be fine. We saw this also with Supplies that the cost was initially too high. The new supplies hits the spot way better imo.
We also need to think about the upgrade time.

Would be interesting to bring Persians back in the 1v1 open map meta again.

what unit is more pop efficient than Cavalier in Imp? Excluding Paladin (which only few civs get) and all the regional units like Battle Elephant,

By this logic the Goth flood wouldn’t be a thing.

Pop efficiency is only strong as long as you can sustain the numbers with your production. And that’s hard with a melee unit that needs 75 G each and is so heavily countered by the most common trash unit in the game.

IDK if 60 g is the perfect spot, but imo 75 G is too high for the cavalier in imp. The dropoff is too hard.

you can sustain 75g Cavaliers for quite a while thanks to the extra gold spots and the 2 additional secondary golds.

I just counted the Gold on a random Arabia map.
It’s 28.8 k. Half is what you can expeect to collect. But you also start with 100.
=> 14.5 k
You need 1 k for the age-ups.
=> 13.5 k
The essential techs to get cost about 4 k.
=> 9.5 k
That divided through 75 is <127.

Meaning even if you spend ALL but your relic Gold exclusively in Heavy Cav you can expect to be able to make about 120-130 Heavy Cav in a single game.
Don’t forget that you also need some Siege to win a Game.

If you assume having 140 Villagers working, you can collect the res needed for these 120-130 heavy cav in 5 minutes.

I feel like everyone proposing that knights have their training time increased is basically just throwing a random idea out. When you do the math on knight startup costs vs xbow startup costs you realize the knight needs that fast training time to compensate for the farms. Its the same reason eagles need to train slowly.

Like I probably suggested something similar in the past but someone else should do the math because its not hard and its pretty revealing.

Im all for having the game be more offensive power-unit based but this isnt some mystery as to why the dynamics turned out like this. Pikes have higher sensitivity w.r.t. knight upgrades (killing slower if knights have 1 armor advantage, dying faster if knights have 1 attack advantage), higher start up costs, and are less flexible and more vulnerable to counters. On top of that the pike-knight economics were set up 20 years ago with massive knight-civ power creep since that time. Pathing, lag, and unit collisions also changed in a way detrimental to pikes. Its why you see knight plays carry people up elo. Monks are too high APM and cause problems for the relevant elo range.

Fix pikes and this all goes away. I have no idea why players are so constantly scared of changes in this game but here we are again. Theres literally a civ with free pikes, a civ with 33% faster attacking pikes, a civ with 20% more HP, a civ with a 30% discount AND faster training time, etc. and these dont even come close to being OP. But somehow doing something like +1 bonus damage, +1 HP (to mitigate the sensitivity to knight upgrades) and/or a lower training time are risky.

Devs have no problems catering to a risk-averse player base. It makes their job super easy to push out one patch every 3-6 months with tiny changes and focus on blind balance instead of design.

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sure its a a good idea

An alternative to buffing the pike line could also be to introduce a new midgame power infantry unit.
As I proposed earlier and is discussed here.

So whilst pikes are the trash counters, this power infantry line could be somewhat soft-counter Knights but have other specifications like being able to raid and also some micro ability.

The Knights would still have the advantage of just being faster and therefore able to chose either the condiions of the fight or just trading raids / pressure on the economy. So Knights would still have the strategical advantage on more open maps, but at least there would be a unit that can fight them without being basically useless in every other aspect of the game.

I think a power infantry unit is way better suited for that role than eg. camels. As Camels not only counter Knights, they even take away that one strategical advantage why you make Cav in the first place: Having the mobility advantage.
Also that power infantry can be given to baiscally every civ whilst camels only fit to civs that actually used camels… Leaving a discrepancy in the matchups of the Knight civs. I don’t like having too one-sided matchup advantages in a game. And as camels are clearly only designed to dominate Knights, being almost useless against archer civs, there is a really bad lopside in the design.

An power infantry unit can still be useful against Archers as long as it is capable to tank a lot of arrows. Probably not optimal, but you can use it as meatshield for your own unupgraded archery type units and raiding tool. Even as Cav civ it’s probably quite usefull if the opponent techs into Pikes. An alternative to the currently commonly chosen Skirms against that xbow/pike comp.

What? 11
btw if you want to quote somebody, just mark that passage with holding the left mouse button. If you leave the hold you will get a popup that allows you to insert that quote in your text.

The thing is that approach is inherently much more effort and riskier. Also conditional on controlling the knight rush, by mid castle age knights are not really a problem.

At a bare minimum stone walls are almost universally available and solve a lot of problems knights pose and by mid castle age there’s been quite a bit of time to get the defenses up. Camels, many UUs, and infantry civ milita + pike compositions will also keep knights in check. Elephants would keep knights in check if they weren’t so easy to avoid by knights, easy to see coming via scouting and so hard countered by pikes before mass + blast damage can effect an advantage. For players who practice with monks they’ve gotten enough time to get a complement to the monks up.

The problem is on average knights are so powerful in the first half of castle age that players are put on the back foot which renders the relations above moot because the conditional of “controlling the knight rush” is hard to meet. Importantly knights provide a straightforward and profitable strategy profile. Namely if you see someone investing into spears and walls, just skip the knights and boom and win 10 min later based on the raw differential in economic power. If you don’t see them investing into spears and walls just take advantage of the startup cost asymmetry and get a good first raid in. For a huge range of elos this is an extremely profitable strategy profile. The scouting asymmetry caused by a defensive opening also feeds into this.

As far as I can tell the problem has always been the rush not the unit itself. It’s why Franks, whose only real knight benefit is the streamlined nature of their opening, are the main problematic civ. Other civs contribute but to a lesser degree because they can’t take advantage of the rush as much. Adding a new unit would only fix the problem if it had a transition dynamic that pikes lack. But since that’s the case, why not change the transition dynamics of pikes directly? It’s cheaper, faster, safer, and a better understood problem which makes feedback easier to incorporate.

E.g. Let’s trace out pikes +1 cavalry attack. This is a small change on a well known existing unit. I invite you to compare this analysis with designing an entire new unit (as well as the dev’s track record on convergence time for new unit balance).

The side effects, if any exist, will require a change on the non-pike unit or an acceptance that the change is a beneficial side effect. At the end if the list of side effects is small or at least not prohibitive enough to prevent the change we can change it. First thing first, subtract one elephant damage to compensate and keep that the same.

We already know +1 cav attack doesn’t affect bloodlines knights directly, it just changes the sensitivity to upgrades. However non-bloodlines knights will die 1 hit faster when upgrades are equal. Bohemians, Britons, Burgundians, Byzantines, Celts, Ethiopians, Koreans, Malay, Vikings. Literally all of these civs have very strong anti-pike units, rarely feel a need to use knights, or like Malay and Burgundians the change is moot because of civ bonuses. So things are ok there.

The change to pikes will have side effects on light cav with bloodlines which can be accepted or compensated for with 1 cav armour for light cav (which is back to 0 on hussar). The only real risk for adding 1 cav armour to light cav is eagle vs light cav as any other anti-cav unit thrashes light cav already so much 1 extra armour won’t really matter. This will make eagles vs light cav a relatively close fight. I think this is an acceptable side effect but you may disagree. Either way this is fine.

Lancers have the same problem light cav does but luckily only cuman lancers have the problem after upgrades. Cuman lancers probably need a buff anyway so that can be handled separately. Acceptable. Shrivamshas are unaffected in any appreciable sense.

Cav archers are unaffected in castle age but a slight buff for pikes in this relation is not really a problem anyway. Now we go through the UUs which are assumed to have bloodlines if available. Remember pikes can have anywhere from -2 to +2 attack depending on relative upgrades.

  1. Ratha. Takes a nerf when pikes have +0 attack (# of cav armour = # of infantry attack). Can be granted 1 cav armour as it underperforms anyway or left alone.
  2. Konniks see the exact same changes as bloodlines knights. I.e. at -1 pike attack hits to kill changes from 6 to 5.
  3. Coustillier. No effect except when pikes have -2 attack. Moot.
  4. Cataphract. Can give the unit +1 cav armour. It already negates all castle age anti-cav except pikes. Effect in imp is negligible.
  5. Tarkan. No effect except when pikes have -2 attack. Moot.
  6. War Wagon. No change except at -2 attack. Moot.
  7. Leitis. Same as tarkan. Fine.
  8. Magyar Huszar no effect at all.
  9. Mameluke. Reduce pike mameluke attack by 1 for no effect at all.
  10. Boyar. Not effect except at +1 pike attack. Bit of a downside but acceptable.
  11. Keshik. Takes 1 less hit to kill when upgrades are equal. Definitely a downside but it’s primarily an anti-archer unit so acceptable.

Unless I’m mistaken that’s everything. As far as I can tell the side effects are not problematic. But this is one minor change. Developing a new unit is much harder.

I am not totally convinced by that. But I agree that the rush plays a very important role.

But I see a small thinking mistake there. Cause if we reduce the rush timing we actually BUFF the civs that can perform the rushes faster/streamlined in comparison to the other cav civs.
Meaning that especially Franks would then in the aftermath be stronger than before.

One idea we had in other threads was to give spears a feudal and/or castle age upgrade, enabling more gradually increase of the spearman line against the Knights. (ofc the direct upgrades of pike/halb then would be tuned down a bit)
This would allow the player behind in timing to defend with spears against a knight rush and get the longer pikeman upgrade later. Ofc the upgraded skirms won’t be super great vs Knights, but they can probably work. But it ofc only works if you read the game properly. You need to make enough spears and this upgrade in time before the Knights come. And it potentially even allows strategical counterplays like transiitioning into a ranged unit or just booming.

But this way that rush powerspike could be tuned down a bit without buffing the already strong Knight rush civs indirectly.

I also proposed at some point a general buff to the spearman line by increasing the speed. This way Knights have a bit harder time looking for easy targets while chased. This could even lead to the more speedy light cav seeing more play in the midgame.

This is not an error in thinking its an explicit goal. Moreover its inevitable to any strategy nerf, your proposal will also cause this effect. You cant avoid it. Making the rush easier to control is like a carbon tax. The only people who will use a lot of carbon with little change in their production process after a tax are the people whose production is so valuable they can take the hit to profitability and still be profitable. All the others will try to use carbon more efficiently.

Sure all the mediocre knight rush civs will be less rushy or change strategy because in some sense weve taxed them to be not be as profitable. But there is still profit to be found using knights in different ways. For example, a meh rush is still useful as a part of a mixed strategy the same way franks archer opening is. Its a threat that has strategic benefits in an asymmetric informaton game even if conditional on the enemy knowing its coming its weak.

This is why I keep saying an economics background is important for the developers. Theres tons of analogous dynamics in economics and that discipline has already solved a lot of these problems or has tools which imply good solutions.

We can probably find other solutions to this problem. Imagine you come across the following patch note:

  • “We’re changing pikeman to have 1 more cavalry attack and train 30% faster (22 → 17) to make pikes vs knights a more reliable counter in early castle age. In particular +1 attack makes pikes less sensitive to knight upgrades and training time reduces the sensitivity to barracks construction. We’ve adjusted rathas, elephants, cataphracts, and mamelukes to keep those interactions the same. Side effects to the +1 attack exist, however you should not notice them or they will at most require a small consideration for upgrade breakpoints. For disclosure, heres a list of all side effects of the change (link to list)”.

Basically no one who has studied this problem is going to view this change as bad. It is narrowly tailored to address the issue at hand without causing massive amounts of side effects. Sure you could come up with other solutions and some might be slightly better. But this is fast, easy to implement, and the feedback is predictable and easy to adjust to.

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