As we recently had a lot of changes on Arabia to make it more “agressive” I would like to propose a different approach to encourage and revard players for taking initiative early on.
IMO it’s not the openness of the map or the wallability or whatever that lead to reduced feudal play but instead the high powerspike of castle age.
The conclusion is if we add some tools to feudal which revards players for taking initiative instead of punishing “defensive” play we accomplish several things with it at the same time:
A) The strategic diversity stays up high. Nobody is forced to play a specific strat or can’t play a strat he just want to try in the specific match.
B) More “soft skill” concepts of the game become more revarding also for lower skilled players. Taking map control with feudal units gets revarded by the access to the relics (and inherently also better scouting)
C) Too greedy approaches/strategies without even trying to get some value in Feudal can be punished much more easy. If the opponent “reads” you are aiming for a blank FC he can easily adapt and make nothing but monks in feudal only to get the relics in.
D) Relics become more important even for lower level of play, as they are now part of the early game where you usually have some more attention “free”
E) Eary game gets one more dimension
F) Greedyness early on becomes more a “two-edged sword”. If you then play greedy you need to play around a certain powerspike you want to work with cause otherwise the additional Relics of the Opponent will give him a log-term win condition. This (hopefully) leads to a more “volatile” gameplay - “Turtling” can’t be a thing then anymore (except for a player who took more feudal initiative and got all the relics in).
G) Reduce the Castle Age powerspike slightly by adding one of the castle age tools to feudal
(Feudal Moks should have reduced range though, for obvious reasons)
I’d like just to mention that in offset we should revert the last Arabia and Wall changes. In the current state of Arabia were early agression already gives insane value the proposed addition of monks to feudal would make even worse and it be the nail in the coffin for “slower” civs, as they can’t compete with the sheer army power of their faster opponents.
Lastly I want to state that I don’t like the wording of “agression”. It implies that there is basically no other usage of military than to kill the opponent eco. In the way it is used it also poses a demand of “serious damage” to the opponent just for fielding more army. But that would lead only to full snowball games where woever fields more army at some point just slowly grinds down the opponent. I would like to replace that with “initiative”. That implies that the one with it actually has to work with that initiative and make good usage of his army. It implies that if you take the initiative you are supposed to “ask questions” of your opponent and try to force reactions. And if he reacts well you need to find different ways to get value from your units.
I think it’s important to understand this. You can get a lot of Value by just idling some of the opponent economy. You don’t need to kill Vills. You Also can get value by taking map control and so on. All this kind of more “soft” factors of gameplay need to be more present also at lower level of play. And I think by just moving Monks that revard taking map control (by taking relics) to Feudal we can achieve that already. Players who like to take initiative have one more way to get value and in way they learn also something about the strategic diversity of the game. That there is more to it than just killing vills with “agression”. To learn to appreciate the game in it’s whole, beautiful strategic depth.
(Important sidenode: this could possibly lead to some specific civs with high feudal eco to be “OP” as nobody could compete with their feudal army. These civs (Chinese, Vikings, Aztecs, Mayans for the most part) would need to be nerfed a bit then.)