Is War Camp inherently bad design? Does it need a limiter mechanic?

Since the release of the Dynasties of India DLC, AoE2 has been dominated by the new Gurjara civ. They have been called an instant top 3, a poorly designed civ.

Among the criticism, a commonly identified issue, sometimes called the lynchpin of the problem is that they can counter either of AoE2’s dominant units - Archers or Knights - from the same production building.

  • Their unique Shrivamsa Riders counter Archers.
  • They have one of AoE2’s best Camel Riders, which counter Knights.
  • Both are produced from Stables and benefit from hand cavalry upgrades.

This setup means a Gurjara player needs minimal switching to react to any army composition, on top of their more inherently “fair” advantages like decent economy and a good Castle unit.

Now, AoE3 isn’t like AoE2 in that production buildings aren’t the only source of a player’s army, and the OPness of Hausa and Ethiopians at launch was more attributed to the versatility of their economies and the flat higher strengths of their units.

However, it is still possible to argue that the simplicity of troop production and its consequences - the minimal cost of switching (especially when they also have simplified unit upgrades), and the denial of information to opponent scouting - is part of their tapestries of flexibility.

For comparison, we can look at the original model of the War Camp - the Chinese War Academy. The Chinese ability to produce all 8 non-artillery units from one building (plus the cost-effectiveness of said units) is starkly constrained by one unique mechanic - the inflexibility of Banner Armies.

It’s then arguable that regardless of Hausa or Ethiopians’ current power level, it’d be simply better design to give War Camp some sort of limiter mechanic comparable to Banner Armies. In pure strength, they may have been nerfed enough to no longer dominate, but a limiter mechanic may still be a blessing in disguise by:

  • Adding meaningful decisions to their play;
  • Making scouting against them more meaningful;
  • Giving designers more “knobs” - more parameters to tweak their strengths, so their balancing is more nuanced and less swingy.

As a 1-minute example idea, perhaps we can take a page from StarCraft, and give the War Camp an addon mechanic - it can initially produce “basic” units (e.g. Gascenya or Fulani Archer), but needs sub-buildings to produce “advanced” units and research upgrades. Each War Camp can only have 1 addon out of 2 choices. OTOH, addons are fairly cheap and might be sellable, so switching addons is more about the time costs of building them than resource costs.

What do you think?

I think the warcamp design is not a problem. African civs are not overperforming at all and the same logic applies to incas and aztecs (light inf, heavy inf, cav).

[Could also include germans, since you only need to build barracks and get free cav anyway]

In later stages of the game, when artillery becomes more prevelant, you have plenty of wood to build stables etc so the african advantage makes no big difference i guess

Oh yeah, that’s a feeling I have. The DE designers are breaking some rules like War Camps, perhaps because we the AOE3 community have figured out they are more nuisance than where the real bottlenecks of AoE3 lie - from their perspective at least.

AOE3 already “merged” melee infantry and ranged infantry, so that is not much of a problem.
And the war camp of both civs lack some units that need to be compensated from the palace.
But I do think it is the palace that needs some rework. Other similar options like federal states or consulates can be scouted but palaces do not.

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To clarify what I meant, I feel a repeating pattern of DE era is devs addressing AOE3’s global design issues, not via global changes (because that would be heavy rework of the whole game), but as new features, especially on DLC civs. The Logistician politician, State Capitol, civ-exclusive outlaws, Livestock Market, Hacienda cattle auto-processing, Mexican revolutions are all examples. Together with the shadowteching, the War Camp streamlines the African civs’ standard unit upgrades AoM Norse-style, another thorn at AOE3’s side.

Interested to hear your thoughts. :innocent:

The Africans have pretty big holes in their standard unit rosters so they can’t just cover everything from the War Camp. They still need to build Native Embassies and Watchtowers to fill the gaps with natives and outlaws.

I think the War Academy is actually a bigger issue and should have a cost increase for that building. The drawbacks of banner armies aren’t enough to negate the versatility of having only one production building. The Blockhouse from the Russian consulate should also be limited to Castle armies only so that China actually has to build a War Academy in age 2.

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