Idea: Buffing the Swordsman Line By Improving Survivability

Recently, longswords and two-handed swordsman were buffed with +1 melee armor. However, after a few games, I felt that the militia lines are still quite underwhelming, especially during Castle and early Imperial Age. After multiple (arguably) unsuccessful attempts at buffing the militia line to viability by the Dev Team (Arson and Supplies), crossbows and knights are still the dominant units in Castle Age.

I have concluded that the biggest reason for this is that the militia line has low survivability compared to archers and knights. Specifically, the range of archers and the speed of knights both allows retreat from unfavorable engagement. However, swordsman are slow and attacks in melee. If a engagement goes sour, the swordsman are pretty much lost. Along with the fact that swordsman cannot counter either grouped archers or knights cost effectively (ensuring that these engagements will go sour), it is no wonder that swordsman are seldom seen after early Feudal. This also explains why Arson and Supplies does not buff swordsman into viability, as Arson only improves building attack (does not help if your swordsman cannot live long enough to reach enemy building) and Supplies only reduces infantry cost (losing infantry with 3/4 the food cost is still resource lost, which is not as useful as a knight running around enemy base or archers harassing across the wood-line with minimal risks).

**With this in mind, I would propose the following changes (tested in scenario editor, but tweaking may be necessary): **
Man-at-Arms: 50 (+5) HP, 7 (+1) Attack, 1 (+1) Normal Armor, 1 Pierce Armor
Longswordsman: 60 HP, 10 (+1) Attack, 2 (+1) Normal Armor, 2 (+1) Pierce Armor
Two Handed Swordsman: 70 (+10) HP, 12 Attack, 2 (+1) Normal Armor, 2 (+1) Pierce Armor
Champion: 85 (+15) HP, 13 Attack, 3 (+1) Normal Armor, 2 (+1) Pierce Armor

The idea here is to make swordsman more resistant to archers while also being able to trade with knights in a cost effective manner. In particular, buffs on the armor and hitpoints are intended to improve survivability, compensating for their lack of range and speed.

Looking at past discussions on buffing the swordsman line, I would like to further address concerns of imbalances potentially introduced:

  • Would Supplies make the buffed swordsman overpowered?
    Admittedly, this buffs are made without considering Supplies. If it does make swordsman OP, Supplies can be moved to Castle or Imperial Age with a cost adjustment. (Personally, I never did like the Supplies tech, as it makes balancing infantry UU quite difficult. If possible, Supplies should be changed to do something else, maybe a hitpoint increase.)

  • Why is the Man-at-Arms also buffed?
    The Man-at-Arms buff is to ensure that it can (barely) defeat a FU scout cavalry in late Feudal Age. This gives the player a purpose to use Man-at-Arms during late Feudal. This also encourages the massing of Man-at-Arms during the transition to Castle Age and then upgrading to longswordsman, sort of like the archer to crossbow upgrade.

  • If swordsman can be knights cost effectively, is pikeman useless?
    No. There are two major differences. First, pikeman is a trash unit. Whereas swordsman cost gold, pikeman does not. Second, pikeman are faster and deals high bonus damage against knights, whereas swordsman relies on higher hitpoints and armor to cost effectively beat knights. Thus, pikeman are a lot more dangerous to knights if not targeted right away.

  • Is the increase in pierce armor too much? Shouldn’t crossbows counter swordsman?
    While the pierce armor allows swordsman to survive longer against archers, it is still slow and vulnerable to shoot-and-scoot by a group of archers. In particular, if we look at the current Malian swordsman, most players would say that Castle longswords is “feasible” (and then proceeds to crank out archers or knights anyway). One of the other infantry that has 2 pierce armor in Castle Age is the Teutonic Knight, and (while not a perfect comparison) nobody will say that Teutonic Knights beat archers. So no, 2 Pierce Armor does not a Huskarl make.

  • Is the swordsman too strong against the knight?
    No. While a swordsman should beat knights cost effectively, a knight can still avoid engagements. In addition, knights still beat swordsman pop-efficiently.

  • But the Goths/Japanese/Bulgarian/Malay/… have bonuses that would make swordsman overpowered?
    Once the swordsman buff is finalized, we can then change the civilization bonuses/technologies accordingly. Having an agreed starting point for future patches/updates is important.

  • Infantry Unique Units
    Again, once the swordsman buff is finalized, the infantry unique units can then be adjusted accordingly. (Furthermore, changing Supplies will make this process much easier.)

  • But swordsman already counter eagle warriors. Do they not already have a use?
    While swordsman does counter eagle warriors (if they can catch up to them), this is only applicable to 3 civilizations. It would be preferable if they could have more uses, giving the players more options (and use swordsman instead of knights when playing as Vikings…).


These buffs are way over the top. Let’s see first how the meta settles with the recent buffs.


Swordsman line is in a good spot right now.
They are a force to be reckoned with in all ages.

Maybe a +0.02 base movevent speed for all infantry can be discussed.
But thats it.

Combat stat buffs should be discussed only for champion e.g. +1 attack, or decrease champion upgrade cost/time to research and call it a day.


These buff is kind overkill XD. In my opinion, the core only problems are that they are much slower compared to the knight for equal paid resources and don’t really have a clear role in the early game other than killing trash units in late game.

My proposal is to just buff squire and arson instead. Squire should give 20% extra speed so Xbow can’t just keep running away forever and knights will have to be more careful when engaging the milita line. Arson should give like +5 attack against buildings, so they have a more defined role of busting through wall and defenses compared to knights.

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The militia line is in a perfect spot and doesn’t need any tweaking after the recent buffs.

Problem here is it buffs eagles and punishes civs that lack squires.

Thus the buff to militia base line speed instead.

I think that’s cool though

I would like to see how on earth this will change anything.that change is so tiny. Anything below 0.04 has no impact imo

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You buff infantry like this and they would absolutely need a trash weakness.

It would be very easy to mass up men at arms in feudal and wreck an opponent when you hit castle age before they can get knight production going.


archers. scorps. so no they dont

the same way eagles dont have a trash counter

but agree the buffs are too much, just your counter reasoning is flawed

what is your benchmark? LS already trade cost effectively. i agree LS onwards(maybe even MAA) could do with +5 hp and +0.05 speed, but its always better to buff incrementally as opposed to some sweeping move, which wont be accepted on face value anyway. even if you provided huge evidence of their future performance people will be reluctant to accept sweeping changes from a rando

aoe4 has proven how buffed infantry can be, and still be subpar to the mobility of the knights and ranged power of “archers”. so we know its do-able, you just need to prove it or do it incrementally…


Swordsman line is in a good spot right now.
They are a force to be reckoned with in all ages.

Are they in a good spot? Dark Age and Early Feudal is the only time where the militia line are really used. Late Feudal typically sees some combination of archer and scouts, with the occasional skirmisher or spearman as a reaction to the opponent massing archers or scouts, but never man-at-arms. Longswordsman pretty much never see Castle Age play, unless you are the Malians or the Goths (but even those players would rather go into crossbows or knights). Two-handed swordsman is considered weak enough that some posts suggested moving the upgrade into Castle Age (removing the Longswords upgrade entirely). Champions are occasionally considered good in early Imperial, but I have never actually seen someone use them in a serious manner. By the late game, they are relegated to trash-busting, yet they are not even that good against hussars.

And what about civs with bad archers? And scorps? In early castle age? Good luck with that plan.
Not to mention you’re now forcing cavalry civs to open archers and likely crossbow before eventually shifting their way over to cavalry. Which is a huge investment.

Eagles cost an insane amount of gold, have a long training time and get wrecked hard by most infantry.

They have a niche roll and Excell at it. They arent supposed to compete against knights and archers


It’s not even a niche role anymore. Infantry arrived in the meta, people are just slow to pick them up because infantry play needs a different approach than standard cav/xbow play. You can’t expect to play a cav build order and slap it on longsowords. LS is a perfectly fine unit that can compete in the cav/xbow meta if played properly


Okay, that is fair. The swordsman could be (and probably should be) buffed incrementally.

However, I still think that the main concern is that: unlike archers and knights, swordsman can’t retreat from a bad fight. For example, is I have a group of archers, and the opponent has a two or three knights, I can reposition so that there is an obstacle in between, or I can claim high ground to fend of the enemy. If I have a group of knights and the opponent has pikes, I can always retreat and raid somewhere else. Swordsman cannot do that. If a fight goes bad, those units are lost. Thus boosting their hitpoints and armor are probably the best way to increase their survivability.

With regards to cost efficiency between militia and knight line, 2 longswordsman (if fighting at the same time) can beat 1 bloodlined knight with a very slight margin, same with two-handed swordsman against cavalier. for Champion against Paladin, the Paladin usually wins marginally. However, in real games, it is often possible that some units bump into each other, or that the both sides have archers/towers/etc. (which hurts swordsman more), I would say that at best, they breakeven in a straight fight.


It would be very easy to mass up men at arms in feudal and wreck an opponent when you hit castle age before they can get knight production going.

I don’t think that is the case. I consider massing archers as more dangerous, as they can kill villagers/stragglers outside of tower/TC range. Massing men-at-arms means that I have to attack into tower/TC fire.

Does it really have a role? Currently, if the opponent go into crossbow or knights, I can’t go into longswords, as it gets killed by anything that cost gold.

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Not really. For one towers would only work until you get under them. One of the most common tactics for fighting towers includes using villagers.

As for town centers. You don’t really have to attack the tc. Wreck production buildings. Idle woodlines and stone and gold by camping them. If your opponent is stuck in their tc then you are winning. Furthermore with your changes a longsword has 4 pa and a town center is going to take a long time to eat them up if you do decide to go under the tc.
Yoy could also mix in a ram or mangonel. And simply use that against the tc.

Either way point is you can overwhelm your opponent before they ever get going.

The militia line buff is to shake the archers - knights meta that is in the game right now
It’s a good thing for a 20 year old game to shake balance and open new ways to play it
Agree that the buff has to come step by step but it is needed


They still don’t have any role currently, especially LS. Surely they are better compared to 20 years ago but Knights and Xbow still outclass them.

The only militia line I found competitive so far is the Malian’s because they get extra p armor for survivability.

The Viking is so close to being competitive had they not nerfed chieftain’s price.

The burmese’s and teuton’s and Japanese’s are pretty decent in melee, they can be good and cost effective vs knight (if you manage to catch them, which is unlikely), but still get peppered by Xbow, it’s not even a contest.

Celt’s could have been good if they had +20% instead of 15%.

Goth’s and Bulgarian can be good but they still share the same weakness vs Xbow, so not as competitive. But at least Goth has huskarl ot off set that.

If a civs doesn’t have a particular bonus for LS, fully upgraded LS will get trashed by both knight spam and Xbow spam.

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You don’t get to change infantries balance in the game by giving them more strength without giving them a weakness to offset

Just because you don’t like the role they have doesn’t mean they don’t have a role.

If infantry is supposed to compete with knights and archers explain why the tech tree says otherwise and why they don’t have the same weaknesses knights and archers do?


The thing is you go into longswords before your opponent goes xbow or knights. That’s what I meant with you can’t play infantry like you play xbow/knight. You have to pressure in early feudal age and never stop. LS is so incredibly cheap that you can drown your opponent in units. It doesn’t matter that they don’t survive. LS is not a unit you have to keep alive because you can easily replace them with triple barracks in early castle age.

You can pressure your opponents buildings while you actually FORCE him to go xbow. You can’t counter infantry with knights anymore because you can easily mix in pikes. And if the archer mass gets too big just mix in siege, you can afford it with LS spam, because they cost nothing.
I would recommend actually experimenting with LS play instead of making conclusions based of off team games or streams