Idea for Infantry + Stances

I thought a lot recently how we could make Infantry more interesting.
First I though about some micro mechanics that make cavalry and archers so intersting, but I got no good idea what could be the third dimension after the first two of speed and range. So I had to skip this approach.
But I remember from other games that there were abilities that you can use mid battle that change the outcome. I jsut don’t think this is a good approach for age 2. Cause the basic mechanics of the game are what makes it so cool. It’s like chess, very basic rules but an open field to play with it. If you would implement such abilites there would be the need to make sure they have an impact which would force to change up general interactions. This then would shut down all the cool strategies that have evolved over time to compensate for certain disbalances.
I want to propose a different concept that may sound a bit weird, but I will try to explain why I chose that and why I think it could allow to make infantry gameplay more interesting for players who like this kind of more macro-oriented combats but still keep alive the general interactions we have in the game and don’t destroy any established strategies.

The key concept is to associate the four different stances (Agressive, Defensive, Stand Ground, No Attack) with certain boost/decreases to damage, damage taken and speed. At first only for infantry but probably there is also a way to make if for all units.
The in-game effect is then that to effectively use the infantry you would need to be careful of what stance you chose at which situation and also have to change stances in combat situations to get the best result. So you could use a stance that increases the speed of your unit to close the gap faster and then change to a stance with higher damage output. But this can also backfire against ranged units cause the stance that increases your speed also makes your units take more damage. So in this situation you may consider a stance that reducess the taken damage. But this then makes your unit slower so you may not be able to close the gap. Also the Stance with increased damage only increases the damage output against units with full HP, so if you switch not with the right timing to it you may lose a decent amount of damage output.
So it’s a matter of chosing the right stances at the right situation and even have the right timings when switching to another stance. You possibly even could try to reduce the damage taken from microed ranged units by trying to change to the stance which reduces the taken damege at exactly the time when the arrows hit. But this might be quite hard to execute. Which is intentional cause I only want the very best players to be able to consistantly do this. As infantry naturally is less strong the higher the level of the players. So I add one specific micro system that can be made use of only by the best of the best to compensate for this general trend.

So what are the Impact of the stances to the unit stats?
First I have to say that I don’t have a perfect solution. I still evne struggle to think of it’s better to make base stat increases/decreases (like +2 atk) or ratios (like +25 % more damage dealt). I decided for now that I will use the ratios for all damage related stuff but absolute values for non-damage related like speed. But idk if this is really the optimal choice.
Also I tried to match the stances with stat changes to make them more effective in how they are ########### used currently. Which leads tto a discrepancy between the naming of the stance and the associated effect. So will the attack stance increase the defences while reducing the attack but the defensive stance increase the speed and reduce the defences. Makes no sense from the naming, but actually sense in the way infantry stances are currently used in the game.

Agressive Stance

Speed: -.1 T/s
Damage Taken: -40 %
Damage Dealt: - 40 %

Defensive Stance

Speed: +.2 T/s
Damage Taken: + 15 %
Damage Dealt: - 15 %

Stand Ground

Speed: +/- 0 T/s
Damage Taken: +/- 0 %
Damage Dealt: +/- 0 %
Bonus: + 50 % Damage vs Targets with full HP

No Attack Stance

Speed: - .3 T/s
Damage Taken: - 33 %
Damage Dealt: 0 %
Bonus: Heals 20 HP / minute

So in conclusion, when and why you chose which ot the stances:
Agressive stance is usually used when in the enemy base. The units spread out and raid which makes it hard for the opponent to clean it up. The bonus to damage taken makes the units resist the defensive fire better so they have longer time to damage the eco. Units which take less damage but have less damage output are better suited for this usage. At least as melee units.
Defensive stance is mostly used for the prodection of exposed ressources against cavalry raids. So you want your units to get fast to the cavalry units but also return fast when they are lured away. The downside of this stance is that the units take more damage which is ofc especially bad vs ranged units but they also have reduced damage output. This means that setting them on the defencive stance can even backfire vs cavalry as the cavalry may just overwhealm your infantry with sheer fighting power. Unless ofc you manage to see it and change the stance to one that makes increases the fighting capabilities of your units.
Stand Ground is atm rarely used for infantry. But this could then change. Cause this stance is ideal for fights. The units have basically the stats as they are tooltipped. They only deal increased damage against units with full health. (The first swing). This little tweak is there to increase the impact of timing with the stance changes. Whilst this stance alone is basically useless as the units don’t move towars the opponents to attack them, you can switch to this stance righ before you attack the opponents to greatly increase the damage output in the first few moments of the battle.
This can be further increased by using no attack stance in between Defensive/Agressive Stance and Stand Ground. If you change to this stance just before the two lines finally clash your unist won’t attack anything, so you make sure most opponent units have 100 % hp. When you then give the order to change to Stand Ground you will greatly increase the damage output. It’s associated with a risk though cause no atk stance has reduced speed which gives the opponent the opportunity to retreat and look for a better engagement. No Attack Stance is then also associated whith a slow regeneration ability. I thought this could be kinda handy for infantry units. Whilst ranged units can function basically as good with 1 hp as whith full HP and Cavalry units have a high HP pool and speed to retreat so a monk additon makes sense, infantry have neither. So damaged infantry becomes less useful, especially if the opponent has counter units out you don’t really have anything to do for them. But if you don’t have a castle to put them in, they just stand there doing nothing until you finaly decide to send them to a suicide mission. Basically this. A stance that gives them a slow regeneration you can just retreat them and let them slowly heal up until there might be a better situation where you can make use of them. This can possibly also be used for damage units that you use to protect your expansion, but this is associated with a kinda high risk. They wouldn’t prodect anything whilst in this stance anymore.

As you can see when facing ranged unist you could switch between defensive and agressive stance whenever the opponents arrows arrive. This way you could increase the effective speed of the units while taking less ranged damage. But ofc to pull this off you need to be very precise with your timing.

What do you think about this approach? And please differ your opinion on the approach (make infantry more interesting by adding micro mechanics) the concept (using the stances for this) or the actual implementation idea with the specific bonusses to the individual stances.

Edit: it would be cool if this could be associated with some visual effect to the unit itself (no weird markers over their heads or something). Really cool would be if the units would like hold shields over their heads when they are in a stance where they take less damage or visuably run when in a stance with higher movement speed. But if there is no viable way to make it visible from the model itself it’s probably better to just leave it as it is.


I would not want this tied to the current mechanic of aggresive, defensive, stand ground and no attack stance. I use those for setting the units’ behavior. I don’t feel I should have to manually micro all my units into behavior they could have adopted on their own just because I also want them to have the right bonus.


Well, therefore I tried to bind them so to the stances so that the bonusses improve or at least not make their behaviour worse.
The problem is as I currently see that with formations, stances and orders we don’t have any options left in the unit menu, so idk where we could add this instead,
It would also make it a bit easier to control cause you need less hotkeys with that system.

But I can undersand that it’s a bit weird to bind it to the stances, yes.

I really don’t understand your logic here. If the unit is being aggressive, it should take more damage, deal more damage, and run faster. If it’s being defensive, it should do the opposite. Overall, not really a fan of the idea.

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I have this explained already.
When in Defensive stance you usually position your spears close to some ressources to protect the vills.
When doing this you want them to move very fast to the opponent raiding units but also back to the original position. That’s why an increase in speed but more taken damage fits better the defensive stance.
But if you are in the enemy base and want to raid you use the agressive stance. And then you want actually durable units that spread all over the base and are hard to clean up for the opponent.

But I explained it already in the post that it may seem weird. Just made it so it fits the stances better.
In an actual fight situation you will use patrol or attack move anyways so you can use either of these stances there.

Yeah, but that’s taking gameplay into consideration, when overhauling a gameplay feature used to control how units behave. So I viewed it through the lens of what would realistically happen? If a unit is being aggressive, it’ll rush into a fight, and hit harder, but be less cautious, so it takes more damage. If it’s on the defensive, it would take less damage, and move slower, but deal less damage, because it’s being more careful.

But this would make defensive stance basically useless to protect your eco. You could argue that it moves slower but deals more damage, this would be kinda ok. But with this I would need to redesign the whole setting for all the stances.

Well, I just consider this whole thing a convoluted style of fixing a problem in a way that creates more problems. I don’t have a better idea, but I really don’t see this catching on. Stances control unit behavior, adding in modifiers for a specific unit class is strange, and going to cause problems.


Yeah I like the idea behind it but I don’t see this working

You are trying to force fit two completely different things together, just for the sake of it

The idea would be nice in a different game, or having a unit that switches just between 2 stances at most.

Finally this would both be a nightmare to balance, and a huge amount of micro on top of everything else.

Aoe4 had the brace mechanic for spearmen, where you tell them to standground, which snares charging cavalry, just that single micro mechanic was too much, so they allowed spears to do this automatically. Now you have 3 different stances (ignoring heal) this would be too much to manage for most players. Nevermind juggling one.

Finally, I think this works for smaller scale games, like ancestors. Where you don’t have this massive emphasis on eco, on top of large numbers of separate units to manage


What about this:

Agressive Stance

Speed: +/- 0 T/s
Damage Taken: +/- 0 %
Damage Dealt: -+/- 0 %

Defensive Stance

Speed: -.2 T/s
Damage Taken: +/- 0 %
Damage Dealt: + 33 %
Bonus: + 50 % Damage vs Targets with full HP (for a total of 100 % more damage)

Stand Ground

Speed: - .3 T/s
Damage Taken: - 50 %
Damage Dealt: - 33 %

No Attack Stance

Speed: +.2 T/s
Damage Taken: + 25 %
Damage Dealt: 0 %

I thought a bit about this and came to the conclusion that they must have the basic values in the agressive stance. One because it’s the “default” but also because depending on which situation they are in a change to certain stats in this mode makes them either too strong for an infantry (if they gain the proposed higher speed they eg would be basically as good in free raiding situations as cavalry). Or it makes them to weak.
So it would be in the responsibility of the player if he wants to change the default setting to get the changes to the stats.

The Defenisve Stance in this set of stances is again optimized for protection. It’s more a “protection mode” that is designed to dish out a lot of damage to opponent raiding units (in most cases cavalry) - WHEN the units manage to hit the cav. The low speed but then reduces the mobility of the infantry even further which would possibly allow the opponent to outmanouver the defenders, but that’s ofc associated with a risk of being hit and taking a lot of damage.
The Stand Ground mode even further reduces the speed but gives a reduction to the taken damage. This is also explainable with the units just taking a defensive setting for themselves, which reduces their mamouvability and damage Output but also reduces the damage they take from opponent attacks. This can be especially useful against ranged fire in skirmish situations.
Lastöy the No Attack stance is the mode for long marches across the map. The units have increased speed, but they take more damage. They also don’t have their weapons on hand to fight back when cought off. So it’s a risky choice. It takes away one of the biggest weaknesses of infantry, the low speed, but if you don’t reactivate a fighting mode when needed they will just be shredded by the opponent units.
(BTW I chose this speed bonus cause with this + .2 Tiles / s buff even Celt Spears with squires can’t catch up to Knights with Husbandry. And standard Spears can’t catch standard Knights without Husbandry.)

I think with letting the default mode have the base values there is no real “risk” for making stuff convoluted for unexperienced players with this change. Instead it is designed for the more experienced players to try use this to get some more out of the infantry in actual combat situations.
Especially with the two different fighting modes in defensive (increased damage output) and stand ground (reduced damage taken) you will have the choice between using the infantry either as brute force or meatshield.
All of the non-default stances bring along some risks so they should only be used by players who know what they are doing there. This also solves this isuue:

Which was intended to be used by everybody and the units kinda useless if you didn’t. So it would force you to constantly overwatch your units and reacting to the opponent actions. Which gave the cavalry player a huge advantage cause he could just wait for any moment you don’t pay attention. With the changes I propose you can get an advantage when you initiate the fight, when you pay attention on your own behalf. You don’t get a disadvantage if you don’t pay attention, just a possible advantage if you do and manage to get an engagement while paying actively attention to your units.

I generally think that if we talk about micro we have to think about benefits that revard activity rather than reaction. Reaction is more a macro thing and as the game is already havy on the macro side I don’t see any reason to add macro potential to fighting situation. Instead I try to give micro potential which means that you can get a positive reward if you stay there with you attention, try to improve the outcome of a battle or skirmish by caring directly about your units. A positive reward system rather than a negative for not paying attention.
I think this is the big difference here to the AOE4 battle mechanics (which imo are more macro based and negatively rewarding).

I actually think it’s the opposite. By binding the bonusses to the different stances you can avoid overbuffing the unit in certain situations. Especially if you eg gave the Agressive Stance a bonus to their speed or damage output, infantry floods that work mainly on the way how Agressive Stance let’s your units spread out in enemy bases can become way too powerful. And that’s also a macro thing and has nothing to do with the intended boost to the micro usability of the units.
So I actually think, binding it to the stances and giving the most useful skirmishing modes (less damage taken + higher speed) to the stances that see the least use because they don’t have a utility makes a lot of sense here.

I actually think that exactly this binding of the stat changes to the stances actually enables these stat changes. If they were independent you just could let your infantry all the time on Agressive Stance and just switch to whatever fighting mode you want, depending on the situation. This would just be a direct buff to infantry rather than encouraging to micro them and make use of the stances in this context.

I like your concept but I would give it this special ability only to militia line.
I think that is the only infantry that would need it. All other infantry already have their strengths, weaknesses and clear role.
I would like that militia line, through well designend and used micro abilities could become a strong unit.

Besides that, I would like to share my alternative:

Agressive Stance Default stance option. No bonuses

Speed: n/c
Damage Taken: n/c
Damage Dealt: n/c

Defensive Stance Default stance option.

Speed: - 1 T/s
Damage Taken: - 25 %
Damage Dealt: n/c
LOS: +2

Stand Ground The damage sponge stance. It gives you time or can use your militia lke a living wall

Speed: - .3 T/s
Damage Taken: - 75 %
Damage Dealt: - 50 %

No Attack Stance The travelling stance. You can’t command a direct attack over a enemy unit if you are in this stance. If you command an attack in another stance and switch to no attack stance the unit will stop (to avoid abuse)

Speed: +.2 T/s
Damage Taken: + 50 %
Damage Dealt: - 100 %
LOS: -2

I can imagine using these stances to deal better against archers. Like take some soldiers, put them in Stand ground to absorb arrows (like a meat ram) and flank with the others using no attack stance to reach quickly the archers’ position.
Good micro will define the battle, because archers could focus on the runners knowing that take more damage in that moment.
Or even use Stand Ground to give you a chance to hold against knights, generate bottle necks, etc.

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I agree that there should be a limitation which units shall get this. Cause eg Eagles definetely don’t need this to be viable.
But I would also consider giving this to spearmen. Currently we just had a nerf to archers and by increasing the viability of spearmen in the midgame a bit we can compensate for this. It’s a small indirect nerf to Knights if you want to see it like this.
This would then even allow to reduce the bonus damage of halbs vs cavalry aswell as pikes and halbs vs eles a bit, making the heavy cav less hard-countered by halbs in the lategame. Many heavy cav civs currently have it kinda hard in the very lategame cause they burn through the gold so much quicker. So I think a small nerf in the midgame vs a small buff in the lategame is a perfect tweak here. That’s why I think applying this bonus to spearmen but reducing the bonus damage of halbs could be a perfect tweak there.

I really like this idea. I still think that for the defensive stance a bonus to damage output would be better, especially as stand ground also increases the defence. I like to have one that increases damage output and one that reduces damage taken.

That’s a bit too much imo. That would mean they would take less damage / cost from archers than cavalry even with cavalry dodging projectiles. Even 50 % less damage can already be a bit too much and probably need to be reduced to a value of 40 % or so.
It’s not intended to reverse the interaction of archers v infantry, just make infantry tank a bit more ranged fire.

Yeah, would allow a lot of strategical utility :). Like these ideas to play with the bonusses also.

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I think spearman only need little tweaks, not a whole new mechanic. Because again, as more eficient is spearman countering cav, less need deplay another type of infantry.

The problem I found with more damage in defensive stance is how counter intuitive it is.
Maybe defensive stance should be the no bonuses default stance and agressive stance have the damage and speed bonus with an armor and LOS downgrade

Yes, numbers here are just tentative.

Another approach could be that agressive and defensive stances have not change. Only Stand ground and no attack have the bonuses. More simple, still effective, because, What if I want to stay in defensive stance but not lose the speed movement?

Well I see defensive stance more as “protective” or “defending” stance. In this context higher damage output makes sense cause to protect the units the best you need to kill the attackers as fast as possible.

I think we need 3 stances here. One for movement speed, one for more attack / damage output and one for reduced damage taken. If you miss one of them the micro potential will be very limited

Again for the defensive stance I think a boost to the damage output is a nice compensation for the loss of movement speed there - a boost to defence is a bit weird tradeoff cause it doesn’t really help for protection.