We all know that no infantry player is actually happy with infantry right now. People have been proposing all sorts of ideas, and I myself has proposed more than a few. After considering everything, though, there is one thing I think is absolutely necessary. It is a new barracks tech, imported straight from AoE1.
Cost: 750 Food, 750 Wood
Availability: Barracks, in Imperial Age
Research time: 60 seconds
Effect: Reduces population cost of all infantry units from 1 to 0.75
In both 1v1s and team games, the biggest limiting factor for infantry isn’t their cost, at least in the late game. It is their population efficiency. Population efficiency of Infantry is so bad, that one of the main bonuses for Goths is +10 population space. (Almost) All infantry units will lose 1v1 to any of the mainline cavalry units. They also have a hard time chasing down archers, and especially cavalry archers.
This is especially seen in team games where gold is unlimited. You cannot play infantry in closed map team games even if you have the best infantry like in the case of Teutons, Vikings, Dravidians or Japanese. If your opponent is playing well, they will be able to exploit the population efficiency problem and gain ground.
With this tech though, you can field 4 units at the pop cost of 3. You’ll still need 2-3 champions to defeat a paladin/battle elephant, but at least you might be able to do that. That means infantry will become more viable in late game, where they should have a space to shine.
There is a concern here about the skirm-halb balance, however. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many good solutions. The obvious one is not to include halbs in the tech. That can be done, but it will feel like a gimmick. Another solution would be to add another technology which will benefit skirms, but I don’t think anyone wants that.
That leaves 2 solutions imo. First, make the imperial skirmisher a generic unit. I don’t see a huge issue with doing this, except for having to adjust the Meso UTs somewhat. Second is to give +1 bonus damage with chemistry, and another +1 with bracer. Please let me know your opinion on these solutions, or if you can think of something better.