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?