Fair points. I can see the argument applying to something like a Malay Elephant rush. By not having Chain Barding Armor available, you can afford 3 more elephants. They’re still pretty tough.
Just questionable for some other scenarios. Like is it an eco bonus that Burmese don’t have Leather or Ring Archer Armor? The Arambai is still a strong unit. Or what about poor Tatar infantry, they’d be crazy to make anything at a barracks and don’t have to invest in Chain Mail or Plate Mail, still a strong military overall.
The scare tactic is also a good point. Like I know not to make archers against Vietnamese, whether or not they’ve invested in Imperial Skirm or Elite Rattan. Just the option of a unit can affect opponents’ strats.
I suggest a few different buffs for the Incas, they aren’t meant to be implemented together, keep that in mind please:
1 - Squires Free. Plain and simple, upon reaching CA they get Squires. That should help their timings considering their eco isn’t as strong as Aztec/Mayans.
3 - Barrack Upgrades -25% cheaper. Helps with timing and tech switches, getting Eagles, Squires and Pikes faster as needed.
4 - Team Bonus:
Houses +2 Population, +10% HP. Basically a smaller version of their bonus, mostly because I think it is interesting, but is debatable
5 - Military Units move 5% faster. Helps with their uniqueness, making them the only civ with faster moving Archers. Might be too broken even being this small though.
6 - Monks move 10% faster OR Monasteries built 20% faster This suggestion was more about Relics. Since they lack the economy of other Meso civs to reach CA faster, this could give them a minor advantage
Anyways, these are just my two cents. Remember that they are not meant to be implemented together.
I like your suggestions for speed. I’ll make a related one. Incas previously had Couriers as their unique tech, giving 10% movement speed to Eagles, Kamayuks, and Slingers. I don’t think Fabric Shields should be removed, but maybe consider adding this back as a free civ bonus. Could be 5% if that’s more balanced, but with 10% it would allow delaying Squires, and give them the fastest Eagles when you do invest in Squires.
Those 3 units are such a limited list that it wouldn’t have any overlap with Celts speed bonus. Fast archers might be too strong, but if it were to be added I think it should be on a new dedicated foot archer civ (maybe something North American).
Fast slingers shouldn’t be a balance issue because they’re not available before castle age, are very specialized, and would be still slower than Bohemians with 15% movement speed on their Hand Cannoneers.