Request: Let Samurai Toggle Melee/Ranged

For quite a long time, I’ve found the Samurai to be a rather underwhelming unit that embodies an interesting concept, but doesn’t really have the strengths to take advantage of it most of the time. It’s not a bad unit per se, but the cases in which it’s optimal are few and far between.

A useful comparison is with the Jaguar warrior. Theoretically, the Samurai is good against unique units. In practice, it is good against maybe less than 1/3rd of unique units. Theoretically, the Jaguar Warrior is good against infantry. In practice, it is actually great against the vast majority of infantry. Both civs have strong champions that they may use when generalist units are optimal, but the Aztec specialist unit is in a position to benefit from its strengths far more than the Samurai.
There is a fairly small set of units against which it actually makes sense to preferentially create Samurai, (mainly Huskarls, Berserks, Teutonic Knights, Karambits, Shotels, Woads, Sergeants, Obuchs). I don’t think I have to explain why it’s usually a bad idea to make Samurai against mounted/archer UUs, to say nothing of the Japanese champ countering most of the aforementioned units well enough and more cheaply.

What to do about it? In the past I’ve considered small speed/PA, or HP buffs, but I think the most effective solution would be to implement what the AoK devs originally intended for the Samurai - a toggle between sword and bow. The idea was scrapped at the time due to the mechanical difficulties, as well as the devs fears of players’ failure to micro the unit. Both of these limitations are out the window with the creation of the new Ratha chariot unit. Giving Samurai the ranged option would allow them to bring their (reduced) bonus damage to bear against archer and cav UUs such that they might actually become a versatile UU counter.

Now there’s probably a portion of the crowd that thinks that Japanese/Samurai are “good enough” and that any kind of buff would make them “broken,” because that’s often the knee-jerk. But they’re certainly not strong enough to make an appearance more than occasionally, and Japanese are in not in range of being OP with a minor buff. The way I see it, this design change fits the original vision of the samurai, and helps it actually be effective as a specialist against a majority of UUs. And there’s never been a better time to make the change.


samurai are in a weird position where there are seen very rarely, part of this is that they counter other melee UUs so well that people dont even create them. eg, you will probably never see berserks vs samurai, because the viking player won’t make berseks, knowing the japanese player can tech into samurai.

I think japanese are currently in a good place and there is no need to fix something that isn’t broken

if you make the samurai able to toggle between ranged and melee my guess is the melee mode would rarely, if ever see use.

while i agree the samurai doesn’t see much use, a portion of that reason is because if you’re going against japanese and you play a civ with a melee unique unit, you just aren’t going to make them, due to the sheer existence of samurai.

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How about adding a handicap for when producing samurai like for instance it would cost X amount of food, X amount of gold and X amount of wood the reason being that if this particular unit would carry the trait of both Melee and Archer it is only natural that it would have the cost of both of them.

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If the base pierce damage is as low as slingers, samurai will probably use both. Range to counter Ranged UU with +10 bonus atk. melee for the rest.


Lol, meant to edit my post, accidentally deleted it:

Eh, well I get the “things are just fine the way they are” as an opinion, I don’t find it compelling at all as a rebuttal. The way I look at it, it’s all about making improvements that optimize the various facets of gameplay, rather than waiting for something to be clearly disastrous (i.e. “broken”) before you bother to make any changes. Even if you look at it that way, rarely used units, especially unique units, can arguably reflect bad design.

The threat aspect mutually preempting UU creation on both sides is a solid point, but again, applies to comparatively few units/civs (and mostly to 1v1s). Even against melee units it’s not absolute, since a Celt might still made Woadies to raid, or a frank might make throwing axes as a halb counter. Also, the way in which a toggle Samurai is balanced would be crucial to whether this is a good idea. I’d be glad to have the Samurai perform somewhat less well vs. Berserks and Huskarls in order to make them suck somewhat less vs cav/archer UUs.

You could say the same about the Ratha, although I agree that the balancing difficulty of a toggle unit are exacerbated by bonus damage. The idea would be to give the archer version lower DPS (including bonus damage) overall, such that Arbalest would be preferred as an archer for non-UU situations. Or possibly even a vulnerability to anti-archer bonus damage when toggled. The unit cost should reflect its flexibility, not just be a super-archer. Keep in mind that the ranged version is terrible vs buildings and siege, and pretty lackluster against high PA units (including UUs, some of which would cancel out most or all of the bonus damage. So the devil’s in the details as far as cost, the stats of each form, etc (as they are with the Ratha), but this is definitely a unit that could be balanced, and I think it deserves some serious consideration.

I like the thinking, but it seems weird to make a samurai cost wood, and IIRC that isn’t the method they have for assigning the Ratha cost. I would certainly pay for a more expensive unit that had this flexibility, or there are other ways to handicap it (as above, such as making its toggle mode affect the type of bonus damage it receives from enemy units).

Yeah, I had something like that in mind. It should be bad enough as an archer against non-UUs that nobody will pay the extra cost for something that they only plan to use as an archer (vs. just going arbs for cheaper and more effectiveness). Its melee form should be about as strong as it is now against non-UU melee units, but its archer form should be worse. Or it could be as strong as an Arb but cost significantly more.


Samurai were orgoniallx planned to be able to toggle in the beta of age of Kings but the orginila devs found it to be gimmicky and unfitting to the game so they removed it/ didn’t implement it.

I would agree with the devs back then, but new devs are much more progressive these days


I agree that actually Japanese need something in late game/ need some characteristic. They have the best infantry in AOC but now Slavs infantry better in mass battle and Bohemians halbs outperforming Japanese halb vs Cavalry. But allowing samurai getting both melee/range makes too much redesign of already existing unit for 20 years.

How about just giving Japanese another archer UU that have slightly better stat than crossbow/arbalester and having slight bonus damage vs UU? (Maintaining Samurai theme of good vs UU)

It is off topic but I think East Asian civs (Chinese, Korean, Japanese) need more characteristic that they have only one UU and stuck with European knight, European pikeman, European seige units, while new DLC civs are very uniquely designed as at least more than 3 UU or regional unit.

I don’t request whole redesign of Japanese and East Asian civs. But I think Korean/Japanese need second archer UU and Chinese need Unique seige (and maybe lose heavy camel if needed)

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Not exactly. I think relevant to the discussion is the quote from Sandyman:

“In our original spec, we planned to have certain units have multiple attacks. For a number of
reasons, none of which were because it was hard to program, this was scrapped.
Two reasons for dumping it were, first, the icky interface it led to, and
second, the immense annoyance a player suffered when his multi-units used the
“wrong” attack. Example: you have a bunch of samurai. Suddenly you spot an
enemy erecting a trebuchet nearby. Frantically, you target it with your samurai
and scroll off that screen to find more soldiers to fight it. When you return,
you find that the samurai are uselessly shooting arrows at the treb, which has
meanwhile destroyed your castle. If they’d only rushed up with swords, they
could have killed it. Quick responses are essential in RTS games, and
multi-attack units tended to undercut this. So we went for simplicity.”

From my reading of it, if they had a satisfactory interface and the assumption of a reasonable level of micro on the part of the player, they would have gone ahead and done it. Again, both of those are apparently resolved to the satisfaction of the devs as evidenced by the inclusion of the Ratha. Outside of balance, which can be ironed out, their is no reason not to do this from really any perspective that I can think of (original vision, unit utility, historical accuracy, civ uniqueness.)

This is nitpicky, but I think Japanese halbs are better (33% faster attack vs 25% bonus damage to cav).

lol, you’re 90% there, just make them into the same unit like I’ve suggested :joy: Samurai were initially and primarily archers anyway. Japanese wouldn’t need another unit if the samurai could do what i’ve suggested. If you really want to give Japanese another UU, ninja would be cool, but I have no idea what it would do, unless it had something like the SWGB cloaking mechanic.

Mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, not every civ needs more than one Unique unit. On the other hand, power creep is real, and when fancy new civs come out with 3 unique units, its hard to feel like the originals weren’t “left behind” in some way. Overall, I like variety/novelty, but don’t think its necessary unless it solves some other problem. Hence my request for the samurai, which solves the problem of it existing in a very limited space and not actually being good against that many UUs.

Ninjas are just a cultural meme, not really worth a unit.
That being said, I do agree the original civs being “mostly the same” as they were in 1999 does make them look kind of “left behind” compared to the new civs with unique gimmicks and all the regional units. So maybe a regional unit for the original three Asian civs would be nice, maybe some sort of warrior monk?. Not expecting it tho, I am sure part of the player base will go ballistic if they got touched besides “small changes”

I think - and as you’ve already touched upon it - a ranged attack would be a nightmare to be balanced. I don’t really know how the changing-forms is done (does the unit get replaced by a toggle? Or what?), but let’s assume they can change the bonus damage per attack.

Considering we’ve seen how Genoese eat everything that is mounted, with just… +5/+7 bonus damage? Samurais would have to have like, +2 at most so as not to take up Genoese speciality, but also it has to be lower regardless, because otherwise it becomes a super-unit that just has no counters. You could add the same vulnerability of Rathas, that it gets countered by Skirms, but then you also make the unit useless (or cry if you’re Turks).

It would require a very heavy rework of the unit overall, with what the stats would be and so on. Ratha as a unit is somewhat balanced out by being a cavalry archer unit. Infantry that can be Archers at will are just nightmarish, especially if they keep the bonus damage.

Alternatively, it can keep its stats (or maybe be just slightly stronger than Champion/Arbalest), and lose the bonus damage altogether, but become Ratha-like. Would still probably need to be weak to Skirmishers and become useless (since Ratha continues to take bonus damage from Skirms even in melee state, therefore Samurais would be the same). :person_shrugging:

what if they got fast/horse samurai but who behave like infantry? (and use infantry upgrades)


I think this is an interesting idea, but I also think we should wait and see how the Ratha turns out first. I’m apprehensive about it, because the problems Sandy talked about seem to me to be just as relevant today as they were twenty-odd years ago. They were design problems rather than implementation problems - so what has changed that makes toggling between attacks a bad idea in 1999 but a good idea now?


the dev team. their more open to gimmicks and joke units now. cause money is king

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I remember him mentioning that the AI would be unable to chose properly depending on the situation, and I guess one of the things that changed is the amount of players who only do pvp.

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The AI capabilities are also much better, so that concern is probably gone too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the AI becomes a nightmare with Ratha micro now.

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Good point, yes, the AI will probably be much better at using it than players - similar to the AI’s ability with Monks.

No samurai are fine. I played a 2v2 nomad the other day and was wedged in between the opponents while my ally was on other side of the map. Being nomad i had to rush down defensive castles. And since i was under pressure had to build samurai. It was not what i was going to build if i had space and time but was forced into it

Guess what? They reckt everything. My 30 or so CASTLE age samurai reckt 20 or so ELITE KONNICKS of the enemy lmao. I held them long enough for my ally to come in with his fully boomed army and wipe them out

How about allowing Samurai to have both the mounted & infantry unit & both ranged & melee attacks for both the cavalry & infantry unit? Or is that too OP?

Yeah, don’t read into this too much outside of the context of the response. My point was that if we were to add a 2nd UU to the Japanese, something like a ninja (or perhaps Ashigaru) would make more sense than an archer UU that also does UU damage. (As a bonus, the ninja unit already exists in the editor). Although I don’t feel strongly that Japanese should be able to train ninja (or any 2nd UU), especially if the Samurai becomes a toggle unit.

Nightmare? Difficult, yes, but I see it as an opportunity. Sure it would require a lot of thought, testing, and some revisions, but so have many of the mold-breaker type units/techs that already exist. Imagine a cavalry unit that mitigates anti-cav damage AND does bonus damage to the spearline (Cataphract), a unit with an extra life (Konnik), a tech that turns all your villagers into military (Flemish Revolution), units that reduce or ignore armor (Obuch, Leitis) You get the idea. My point is, the tools to balance such a unit are all there, and I’m sure the dev team is up to the task.

There would be some overlap, but IMO cav bonus vs. UU cav bonus is different enough. But I agree, the anti-UU bonus of the archer version should be small, perhaps +2 or 3. Both versions would still be hard countered by generic cavalry and siege. Alternately, perhaps only the melee version would have any bonus attack, and the toggle version would be basically a tankier arbalest. It doesn’t have to be a Genoese, but it would be nice if Samurai could do something vs. say, Mangudai, besides just dying pitifully.

I’m not sure why this would necessarily be the case, but I get that the Ratha potentially has more units that deal bonus damage against it. If the devs had originally added the Samurai with the toggle functionality, I think people would be arguing the the Ratha might be OP, since as a cav unit it has more power to choose engagements/avoid its counters as well as to toggle weapons to optimize its DPS against whatever units close in on it.

For sure. Even in an idealized time frame, this unit would not exist in any less time than a year or so. Gotta seed the idea early though. I think as people become familiarized with the Ratha, some of them will warm up to this idea. Regarding the problems of a toggle unit in AoE2, I’m not exactly sure what their issues with the interface were, but I do think there has been a technical solution to that in this and other games. From SoTLs video on the Ratha, the interface/transition looks pretty smooth. I also think there’s a higher expectation of basic micro from the player than when the game was first released, and more choices of units/civs that can potentially be more rewarding if the player is willing to put more effort into their management. An example is the Malay Advance Time bonus - using similar logic, the original devs might have been reluctant to employ a bonus like this because there is a downside if it is not managed properly (and some people still may not play Malay for this reason).

Eh, you’ll forgive me if I don’t find this little anecdote very convincing or useful in the context of this conversation. Castle age Samurai is quite strong thanks to the recent infantry buffs, such that the Elite Upgrade now only adds half the damage and HP that it used to. I would also expect that the Bulgarian player missed several important upgrades (armor, attack, possibly Stirrups) in his rush to get the Elite Konnik tech, and I’d be surprised if you wouldn’t have gotten comparable results with equal res worth of Japanese pikes. But yeah, Samurai are an ok choice even vs. some melee cav UUS (Konnik is probably the best example, maybe Keshik), but if you have the ability to make pikes, that’s almost always the better option.

Way too much. Making the Samurai have 2 functionalities would solve the problems with their limited usefulness. Turning them into 4 units is just overkill on every level. IMO this type of thing, if it was ever implemented, would be for the scenario editor only.

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