I’m going to tell you the story of the battering ram in AoE4.
Technical Stress Test: In the open beta (or the famous Ding Ding of the Town Center), where many players were able to test the game, they discovered a very clear metagame and very soon, that meta was the all in of battering rams.
Many of us understood that in order for this game to be a bit more dynamic than AoE2, devs wanted to make the ability to end a game in Feudal on occasion and thus also have more strategic variety.
Especially HRE, despite its bugs (there were more civs that could do a good all in too) had an all in in the Feudal Age of men-at-arms and battering rams made by pros at the time, it was a very clear meta because the strategy was broken / OP. Why?
That is a good question, the answer is because there were various problems regarding bugs and some obvious imbalance:
In the last patch the last bug regarding the units garrisoned in the TC was resolved (with 20 units I could only shoot with 13 weapons at that time).
The main TC (Landmark) had 2400 HP.
At that time you couldn’t target units with any defensive buildings (this is very key if you put many units inside the initial TC so that enemy units don’t get close).
(Possible imbalance) The ram had 900 HP and 3 pop (+15 ranged armor, although this is less relevant). The pre-nerf ram had 700hp and 1 pop with +30 ranged armor.
Personally I thought the devs were going to fix the bugs regarding defensive buildings and garrisoned units first before touching (or not) the ram, but many players started crying and didn’t assess the situation well.
Raise the HP of the main TC to 7000 (excessive, considering that matching it with a landmark of 5000 HP was enough compared to 2400 of a secondary TC).
Nerf the ram on the 30th November 2021 patch (going down to 1 pop is fine for late game, but there are already other more advanced siege weapons in Late, it didn’t make up for anything going down from 900 to 700 hp, even giving it more armor from distance).
I was very doubtful of these changes, because they had not yet been able to fix those bugs and nerf a certain strategy without taking into account that it was a double-edged sword. Time was proving me right.
Little by little these bugs were fixed (in addition to the balance changes of cavalry bonus against the siege) and the all-in of rams in Feudal went from being broken in the open beta to being something quite circumstantial (it was used in 1 of 10 or 15 games in high level games and with Rus). That is, the strategy went from the OP to the almost unviable, so the strategic rock/paper/scissors was broken in favor of advancing to Castles or the double TC boom.
This last change to the battering ram makes it weaker against arrows (because it has less HP) and cavalry (especially the heavy cav charge and light cav attack) can destroy them a bit faster.
And this is the story of how we are forced to have to finish almost every game in Castles with some pressure in Feudal except with a great raid (AoE2 style, which loses that identity and dynamism).
My personal changes:
- Ram at 200w.
- Initial TC at 5000 HP.
- Siege Engineering should take 30s.
With this it would make there be more variety in the Early game and it would be a step to see more fun games in Feudal.
Sorry for the long text.