Ok, I’m going to go into bit of a rant about Rus design and how it ties into the Wooden Outpost, and finally how I think things should be changed in general as opposed to individual changes like this. Read the end if you only want to hear about my suggestion for the Wooden Fortress.
Rus’ strength is also a weakness
The major weakness of Rus is also their strength. There is a repeating pattern that appear which makes decision making with Rus deceptively difficult. I’ll go on a little bit of a rant about it, but first about the Wooden Fortress;
As it is, the Wooden Fortress is ridiculously powerful. Not only can it be fitted with multiple emplacements, it can hold eight units. When garrisoned, it shoots faster than a regular Outpost–at 1.88 instead of the usual 3.88. Those eight units are not only shooting almost twice as quickly, they are doing more damage per unit as well as having an additional 3 more arrows–and that is on top of the multiple Emplacements.
But, that is where the issue lies. The Wooden Fortress becomes strong when garrisoned, which is nice when protecting your villagers early on, but is not very feasible for proper defense of your actual base–you’re not going to start garrisoning your army during an attack late game for a slightly better Outpost, the investment is just not worth it at that point. And that is their weakness–the pattern is essentially this; too heavy investments.
This “heavy investment” pattern shows up all over the place. While Rus can get 20% more wood, it requires them to invest an additional 175 on top of their Lumber Camp. While Rus can generate free gold, it requires them to put down multiple Hunting Cabins each worth 100 Wood. While they get stronger units in water, it costs more and longer to produce. While they get gold and food gathering from killing animals, they must create more scouts or sacrifice precious scouting to do so.
This overall design means that, to someone unfamiliar with Rus, may make the mistake of trying to play them like a regular civilization where they attempt to utilize their every basic feature. The problem with this approach is that, if you build everything that the civilization asks for, it ultimately slows down the player dramatically, making so they are constantly fighting this internal debt. Good Rus players will find ways to cut every little unnecessary thing to not get bogged down in their economy.
What’s the point?
While the Wooden Outpost surely could benefit from having the cannon emplacement, it is also not a weak building by any means. However, it is designed in such a way that makes it rather unfeasible–which goes for most of Rus’ kit because of this repeating design. While 20% wood, gold generation, 15% food gathering, animal gold, better fishing and strong Outposts are good, they all come at a “usability” cost that has you dancing across the keyboard to try and keep it all going, while other civilizations are just playing the game with their given bonuses.
Maybe that is suppoused to be the fun in playing Rus, and I for sure don’t play them enough to find it endearing. Maybe other Rus players can correct me, but I feel that all of these bonuses’ effects should be both easier and more direct to achieve.
Without changing the Hunting Cabin gold cap, allow each one to get 2x or 3x the gold per tree. It would then make it more feasible for Rus players to actively defend 5 Hunting Cabins rather than 10-20, a little like Malians defending their gold deposits. This allows them to play into their defensive walling more. The ridiculous amount of Hunting Cabins needed both makes it so players rarely defend them, and rarely bother making them.
Give them professional scouts by default–allow them to “turn in” animal corpses in Hunting Cabins and trade them for a lot of bounty or gold. This has the side benefit of allowing players to turn in even Sheep if they are short on bounty. So what if it is annoying that Rus players can steal other’s deer?
Give them 20% wood by using a Lumber Camp as a gathering point, no reason for this heavy investment into a Wooden Fortress. I don’t mind having to build something to get the bonus, but 175 wood is way too much.
And finally, here is my suggestion that ties this all together back to the Wooden Forterss and how it should be changed with all of this in mind. Give them an imperial age tech that sacrifices 3 slots of your Wooden Fortress by “deploying” 3 units within that cannot be ungarrisoned. They are “handcannoneers” that deals in total as much or less damage than the Cannon Emplacement. This way you are trading some of that max potential damage of your Wooden Fortress with actual usable defense in late game, as you’re not depending on garrisoning units to make them useful.
Overall, I think Rus can be quite powerful and is quite strong when utilized to their max. However, many of their features require buffer mechanics that become more and more unfeasible to keep up the longer the game goes. They need to be streamlined in a way that plays into their theme.