It’s time to tone down Dragoons

Most counters in the rock-papers-scissors system of Age of Empires III have some (though usually not all) of the following attributes:

  • Roughly a 3x multiplier, best exemplified by the musketeer bonus/dragoon vs cavalry, upgraded skirmisher bonus vs infantry, and falconet bonus vs infantry
  • General bypassing of damage resistance, best exemplified by musketeers taking full damage from skirmishers and artillery due to their hand resistance
  • Favorable speed discrepancy, best exemplified by dragoons being faster than hand cavalry

Obviously, a huge multitude of variations and exceptions exist: pikemen are slower than cavalry although have a bigger multiplier, archers generally have less than a x3 multiplier be heavy infantry, most hand cavalry does not have a huge damage bonus vs skirmishers/archers, etc. And this is of course not taking into account unique units like Rifle Riders, Lancers, Jaguar Prowl Knights, etc.

But one particular matchup stands out. One VERY relevant matchup in the current meta:

Skirmishers vs Dragoons.

In theory, skirmishers are supposed to be highly effective counters to Dragoons, with a damage multiplier, greater range, and ranged resistance. The problem is that the damage multiplier is minuscule (only 1.5x after taking into consideration their 0.75 multiplier against ALL cav), Dragoons also have ranged resistance (this never made sense to me, as they should have hand resistance to fight hand cavalry), and Dragoons also have the speed advantage so they can run away. Skirmishers also don’t fire any faster than Dragoons, and it’s one of the reasons why archers are actually far more effective against Dragoons in large scale battle.

There is a reason why Dragoons are a super common, super meta unit. Besides being the best counter to hand cavalry, they barely lose to their counters. They also have the speed to counter raids, raid the enemy themselves, or even tackle artillery in a pinch. Really the only saving grace for the skirmisher is that the dragoon is a high health, 2 pop unit that is slightly easier to hit-and-run micro against than, say, two separate 1 pop musketeers. Not that it’s usually the Dragoons chasing the skirmishers…

I would propose a direct increase to the skirmisher’s (and perhaps archers’) ranged cavalry multiplier to x3 (or AT LEAST added to the counter infantry rifling upgrade) OR a changing of the dragoon’s resistance to hand resistance. I would not remove the skirmisher’s negative cavalry multiplier as this is needed to make hussars etc even somewhat viable against them.

Then is one thing strange about the counter system.
Heavy Infantry, Skirmishers, Heavy Cavalry and Artillery are countered by two different unit types.

Skirmishers, Heavy Cavalry, Light Cavalry and Artillery counter two unit types.

Heavy Infantry only counters Heavy Cavalry but is countered by both Skirmishers and Artillery.
Light Cavalry counters Heavy Cavalry and Artillery but is only countered by Skirmishers.

If Heavy Infantry would get a ranged damage modifier against Light Cavalry than Heavy Infantry would be more useful and Light Cavalry wouldn’t be as dominant.

That would obviously affect the balance a lot so it’s not an easy change.

That is also true - I suspect that dragoons were intended to be designed to be countered by heavy infantry such as musketeers (like how musketeers counter pikemen), as they are technically a more “hard” counter to cavalry than musketeers.

But in practice, they pretty much break even with each other.

I guess one reason is that musketeer type units are already very versatile as ranged units with pretty high hp, which is quite rare in this series (typically ranged units are designed as fragile). So giving them more bonus would make them somehow OP?
Heavy melee infantry are those that are really doomed by this counter system. Maybe they should be considered as a distinct unit class with different traits.

I kind of agree with this. I think the Fusilier/Carolean counter modifiers should apply to all musketeer units. Other musketeers can have a lower bonus than Fusilier/Carolean.

Melee heavy infantry has another role: siege damage.

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musketeers pop for pop do well vs dragoons

I understand that the post is related to Dragoons and I’ll keep it to that. However imagine having no unit past 14 range and dragoons eating your entire army. That’s the case of Russia against any civ that has Strong Ranged cav [ Dragoon included ]. That’s some yikes.

Dragons are very strong. They definitely need a nerf. Or all their counters need a buff against them.

Some suggestions:

  • Changing their resistance to melee?
  • Allow Skirm/Archer to have an upgrade on the Arsenal that would make them better against dragoons[Ranged Cav]?
  • Decrease their Range to 10 and arsenal upgrade allows to 12?

It is just sad when a player gets to mass 30+goons and you can’t break that mass as easy. Plus to that let’s add Ports have 18 Range goons @.@

What if the change their resistance the siege. Not melee.
Siege resistance would make them better at countering artillery while being weaker against ranged infantry both light and heavy without being even better against melee infantry.
Same for Musket Riders or any other Dragoon copy.

Giving them a 0.75 modifier against heavy infantry would also be an option but maybe too extreme.

I agree that Dragoons appear to be a little too strong, or rather, just a little too versatile. They are anti-artillery, anti cavalry/ anti raid. And even though they are bad at raiding themselves, having15-20 dragoons can still deal high enough damage vs villagers, while being the fastest units on the battlefields. They only thing they are really bad at is siege.

However, I wouldn’t recommend changing skirmisher/archer multiplier to x3. There is only one civ in the entire game that gets to have x3 vs ranged cavalry: China. And to counteract this bonus, China struggles heavily against heavy cavalry and have no good ranged cavalry unit (Keshiks).

The reason cavalry archers and Keshiks are labeled as bad units is also because of their 0 ranged resist. But there are other factors aswell, like Dragoons being easier to micro with more damage per shot and a higher attack cooldown.

If you wanted to nerf Dragoons, I would suggest lowering their hitpoints/ranged resist and nerf some of their potential range slightly. Portugal can get up to 20 range dragoons if I remember correctly. And regular dragoons can reach 14 range with arsenal upgrades? Someone correct me in case I am wrong, I don’t know the exact numbers from the top of my head, but range upgrades do exist. I would recommend to simply not have Dragoons or any ranged cavalry have more than 18 range. Excluding Siege Elephants.

I think Portuguese goons can only het 18 range now on DE.
Dragoons have already got their range resistance nerfed to be fair. It used to be 30% and now its 20%. I guess they could nerf it further to 10%. But i personally havent really had any issues with them.