Revolutions as Spain's army reforms

On another forum, there was some talk on ways to modernize Spain’s age 4+ army. Nowadays the timeframe of the game is leaning more toward the 1700s+, but Spain feels like it gets left behind, because while everyone else is getting cool ranged cav (Chevaulegers), and skirm (landwhers, Rangers), Spain’s unique roster is archaic units (at least, 2 out of 3). There is a thematic reason for this–those units represent Spain’s army when it was at its peak–but it doesn’t seem to me that you should be using those units in the late game. This is where we run into something interesting–people don’t rely on Pikes and Rods in the late game–rather they will be building Unctioned Musketeers and skirmishers (at least in my experience). While more accurate for that time period, those aren’t at all unique other than just the fact you have missionaries around somewhere. People will still be using lancers but those work imo both game-wise and thematically. All of this just to say I think there are some ways they could add spice to Spain, and I have an idea or two on how to do that, basically by giving Spain 2 choices for how they want their late game to go.

First choice, stay Spain (aka, go age 5): IRL Spain fell off pretty hard 1700+, but in this game of “What ifs” you can see Spain stay in full glory, with powerful Tercios, Rodeleros, and Lancers, destroy your opponents on the glorious field of battle with weapons of “old”. Or if you fall on rough times (I don’t know, let’s say Napolean conquers you), then rely on your speedy Milqulets (not sure what this unit should be exactly) to hit and run your opponent to death.

Second choice, Revolt: The motherland has been conquered so now you must choose where your aligences lay! Will you choose Mexico, and rely on your Charros and powerful Outlaws to beat back your opponent? Will you choose Argentina, and mow down your opponents with beastly Granadero (required change)? Will you choose Chile, and beat down your opponent in a Total War? Suggested cards:
Guerra a muerte (new): Skirmishers gain combat promotions.
Chacabuco (new): Ranged infantry hand attack increased (20%).
Foreign Weapons (new): Costs 1500f, 1500c; Increases Ranged infantry’s ranged attack (50%); Enables you to upgrade your cannons to Imperial.
Will you choose Gran Colombia, and smash through your opponent with the amazing Independence Guard, while the Albion Legion supports you from behind? Or will you choose Peru, and overwhelm your opponent with Montoneros and the powerful Hussars of Junin?

The overall idea is this, stick with good motherland Spain by going normal Imp, or go another “Imp” path with revolts, obviously with Imp things hidden behind cards. I think this would ultimately be the best way to give Spain its “army reforms”.

Spain already has too many options. It’s both a strength and a weakness for the civ. You can end up wasting a ton of resources on upgrades you don’t use, for example, trying to get them all. As you said, they have strong archaics if you choose to do the upgrades.

But, let’s get to the core issue you raised which is post-Age 4 options. Currently, Spain has 6 options (the most in the game):

  • go Imperial
  • revolt to Argentina
  • revolt to Chile
  • revolt to Colombia
  • revolt to Mexico
  • revolt to Peru

You’re asking for another, which is an Age 5 Imperial with a whole new set of military units. It’s too much. Just because a thing existed in history does not mean it needs to be brought into a game. AoE3 has a very clear set of strategic options. One of Spain’s advantages is that it has access to nearly all of them. Let’s look at those choices a bit more in depth and see if there’s any daylight in there for more.

Imperial - this is the standard option. You get +50%/50% att/hp upgrades on all your units and you get the +50% economy gather rate upgrades at the Capitol. With Unction, you have a very powerful late game which you can reach at a reasonable time with a Marvellous Year (+6 min settler production boost) boom. It’s both strong and versatile.

Argentina - this option trades your economy for an all-in attack with everything you have on the map. Then you get a powerful cavalry-based army that is highly capable of hit and run tactics as well as sieging with mortars.

Colombia - this option gets an all-in and gives you a slow, but powerful infantry-based army with a strong navy to balance it.

Chile - this option gets you an all-in and gives you powerful hussars and a fair amount of economic boost. It’s been recently updated, so it may have more, but I haven’t had a chance to play it yet.

Mexico - this option gets you an all-in supported by chinacos (lancers), outlaws, and access to minor tribe support

Peru - this option gets you an all-in and access to a bunch of Inca-inspired tech and infantry units if you want a faster, infantry-based army than Colombia offers and a bit more defense from the strongholds.

Spain has a ton of options. There’s very little you could offer to them that wouldn’t break them. They have a full unit roster so they don’t need mercs to fill in missing unit lines. They have options that allow them to easily counter artillery, infantry, or cavalry. They have options to take advantage of high-trade post maps and low ones. They get a decent navy for water maps. There’s literally nothing strategically that you could add to Spain that it doesn’t already have access to. It does not need more “options.” If anything, it could lose a revolution and be just fine with 4.

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I’m not calling for any new age 5, except for maybe one unit to replace their skirm to represent their time under Nepolean. I may have worded it wrong, but that’s not what I meant.

Other than that I am calling for revolutions to better fleshed out/historically accurate. And specifically I’m advocating for unique ways to get imp units within those revolts later into the game.

Some of these revolts already have that, although in not great ways imo. They also don’t have access to things like spies, which is just rough cause then people hide.

This isn’t a way of really making more options, but rather making those options do a bit more then they do now.

Really the trouble you’d have with any rework is just unction—they’ve tamed its scaling some and that helps but it’s still scary.

On this, I’d say two things:

  1. Historically, this was not a strong time for the Spanish empire. It was weakened by the extravagances of the 16th and 17th centuries, drowning in debt, unable to manage its colonies, and being bled dry by European wars. It just didn’t have a terribly powerful army by this time in their history. They were late to the Industrial revolution and late to modernize their economy and it showed. In terms of representing Napoleon, let the French and the French revolution represent l’Empereur. It’s really an excellent design that does a good job of enabling a powerful Grand Armée. But it was a French army under French command, not Spanish.

  2. As for game balance, all civs should have some strengths and some weaknesses. Spain gets a strong early game to give them a good head start. For them to have standard musks and skirms without many bells and whistles in the late game is a fair trade off and represents the history of the country as well, IMO. They still have Unction if they can keep the missionaries near the army, and they have access to free soldados via the hacienda if they choose to send that card. And they make up for a lackluster ranged infantry a bit with access to the rods, lancers, and a full suite of artillery options as alternative counters. I would not want to buff their ranged infantry any further than what Unction and Peninsular Guerrillas provide for.

I totally agree with this! I’m a big fan of the revolution mechanic. I think Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru are in a pretty good spot right now. All four are quite powerful, especially Argentina and Peru with their cheap units that can also function as grenadiers to snipe down buildings. Colombia and Mexico both have reasonably strong games after the all-in. About the only thing I’d suggest with Mexico is a Theaters (pop reduction for the Bandidos) card baseline with the revolution to make the outlaw concept a bit more accessible, since it’s a key feature of the Mexican civ. I have not had a chance to play the new Chile. Reading the most recent changes, I suspect they have more to go with it, but I haven’t had a chance to play test it with the holidays.

If I had to pick the revolutions that still need attention: Chile, Canada, Barbary States, Egypt, Hungary, and Romania would be on my list for attention, and I’d see what could be done to make revolutions with “fighting villagers” (ie Finland, Canada, etc) a bit more user-friendly to play.

I will also offer this: not all revolutions need access to Age 5 units. There is a trade-off to taking a revolution. You need far less resources to do it, and you (usually) get an all-in attack that should be enough to decide the game. Some of the revolutions are more offensively minded. The French revolution for example has an exceptionally strong army, but it suffers from a weak economy to support it. In contrast, S. Africa and Brazil have absolutely amazing passive economies, but offer an army of weak, Age 4 units. You’re expected to use that economy to simply produce more of them. Some revolutions are more defensively minded and you get forts and towers. Others are more offensively minded, like the Barbary States that sort of demand you be very aggressive about raiding. Having these different game play types are what makes the revolutions fun. Not every revolution needs access to Age 5 units. Variety is part of the fun! Did you have one particular revolution in mind that needed a buff?

I’m not calling for French units btw. The units I mentioned, the skirm replacements, were essentially insurgence against Napoleon. Their age 4 range infantry attack card is actually the representation, but I think it could give a unique skin/slightly unique unit.
As far as unction goes I’d be an advocate for you being able to choose to use it or not, maybe something like “you can choose unction, or this other card/upgrade that does something else to boost your army”. But not both.

Right now revolts are super inconsistent. Some have imp units And imp eco, others have neither and it just feels weird. I think you could come up with some kind of imp units/imp eco ratio and balance them out for each.

Insurgents (yeah, I’m a spelling Notsee =)

I think this is what the Peninsular Guerrillas card is intended to reflect. It modifies the musks instead of the skirms. I think that’s ok. I’m not sure they need a unique skin. We do so much of that and I’m just not sure we need to set a precedent where each named upgrade gets a new skin. The graphics load time is long enough on my toaster laptop!

I think this is because the revisions were done with a couple of different visions in mind. Initially, I think there was some hesitation to change too much from the original game out of respect for the original content. I certainly agreed with them. Over time, the idea started to circulate to make the old revolutions more like the Mexican revolutions since they were so well thought out and fun to play. The revisions they’ve done since then have tried to do more of this sort of thing. More specifically, the revolutions have been designed to give you a flavor of playing in the style of another civ. S. Africa, for example, was designed to play like the Dutch with a large passive economy, conversion to the Huguenots and a smaller villager pool. Brazil plays similarly but with a Portuguese flair. Argentina has a lot of elements of Italy representing the Italian immigrants. That kind of thing. I think it’s a fantastic direction to take the revolutions because once the player recognizes the pattern, he can very quickly choose and adjust his play style accordingly. It’s very easy to learn.

But I think inherent in that system, there also must be the kind of variation that I mentioned in my last post. If, for example, you’re going to give a civ access to infinite forts, that’s a very big defensive bonus for the revolution. To balance it, you have to give up something on offense. That’s good game design. It forces the player to make tough choices in real time, which is exactly what you want in a strategy game. I’m not opposed to adding Imperial upgrades to a revolution when they fit. Colombia gets upgraded infantry for example which fits its slow, steady infantry-artillery army. Chile’s Hussar of Death has the 50% attack upgrade built in to the design of the unit and available as soon as the revolt starts. Argentina gets Imperial Howitzers. But I don’t think they all need that.

I will agree that the overall power balance of the various revolutions isn’t quite as tight as it needs to be yet. Canada and Barbary States are both quite weak still. Egypt’s pretty lackluster. More to be done.

Actually Peninsular Guerrillas specifically affects skirm more XD

True. These revolts are pretty sad imo.