Step Lancers are broken - totally imbalanced

I had a game as saracens agains a cumans. We both had full boom and in late game both had almost all full upgrades. After fight begined i had full upgraded CA + many onagers + castles + TC in ranges + later added elite mamelukes. He had only elite step lancers (mostly) and small amout of kipchaks later upgraded to elite. Fight was so broken so he killed me instantly i even could not fight back. Also i had narrow streets so hes lancers could not fully use their big feature. Also i put good strikes on his head with mango shots. They just invincible.
Proposition:

  1. Remove all attack bonuses from lancers. +1 range is absolutely enough for them. They cost too cheap for such power.
  2. Remove bonuses agains siege from kipchaks. Its an insane when chukonus on horses on steroids and even better than mangudais
10 Likes

Yeah the Steppe Lancers are a bit OP and need to be added to more civs, rn their cost is 70F and 30G right? I think the price should be upped to 75F and 40-5G. The range is what really makes them OP though, they can easily do hit and runs with it. Overall though Cumans are just OP, with their Feudal age rams etc

9 Likes

In really love the fact we are starting to see civs with more options in the fedual age though.
I hope we will see more of that in the future. So i hope they wont remove to much of that.

6 Likes

Don’t sarcerans have a 3 range melee cav unit?
But they don’t have anti-cav bonus.

In the few games I’ve played with and against them, they’ve definitely seemed very strong, too early to say if I consider them OP yet.

I say increase the price. They replace Knight line in the game. 80f and 50g is actually similar to total cost of a Knight. In this way they’ll be effective. If there is no nerf in stats.

2 Likes

To be fair it seems to me the weakness of the step lancers are archers.

They have a very low pierce armour.

Skirmishers counters the unique unit from the castle. While archers or cav archers counters step lancers.

Lets make a short compare though.
I do not like comparing the step lancers to light cav or hussars simply because the step lancers have a gold cost which makes any trash unit worth the trade.

So, lets compare them to cavaliers.

Cavaliers:
HP: 120
Normal armour: 2
Pierce armour: 2
Gold Cost 75

Elite Step Lancers:
HP: 80
Normal armour: 0
Pierce armour: 1
Gold Cost 30

So while the Step lancers have a cheaper cost they allso have less hp and less pierce armour which makes them quite weak against archers or skirmishers.

Just a theory anyway. I know it is kinda opposite of what we are used to. But i would give it a try.
Spamming pike units obviously allso works.

A few unique units might do some extra damage to them aswell.

Frank throwing axemen is ranged “Melee”.
I think cannoneer units are decent aswell. / Conquistadors.
Burmese Arambai with the high damage.
Chinese Chu ku nu.
Incas Kamayuk. Pikemen with 1 extra range and bonus damage against cav.
Italian Genoese Crossbowmen
The Malian Gbetto has a high ranged melee attack.
The Mayan unique plumed archer.
Mongol Mangudai
Saracens Mamaluke. Ranged Melee attack.
Slavs Boyar have a high melee armour.

I think there are enough units to consider at least. Perhaps somebody can try some of the units mentioned and come back and tell us how it went.

3 Likes

The devs went way overboard with the ‘make strong on purpose and nerf afterwards’ methodology.
I think it’s not neccessarily a bad method, but it takes 5 minutes of testing to know how incredibly broken this unit is.

The problem is that the unit is so imbalanced that you cannot justify giving a small nerf, the devs pretty much have to rethink the entire unit.

I do like the ‘medium cavalry’ concept, and I think it should stay priced as one. (inbetween light cav line and knight line). I don’t see why it should have so much more att than kamayuks and throwing axe (which are much more comparable units than knight-line). +1 range is massive, and you really can’t give it same attack as a cavalier.

id suggest giving them -5 attack and perhaps give 1 pierce armor in return, so they’re good against stacked up ranged units when massed (which typically have low armor and HP anyway), but don’t counter paladins, halbediers and heavy camels. They’d still have very good attack for a ranged unit (7+4 attack, -1 less than throwing axe but much more mobile and can be created from stables)

6 Likes

I know the current sentiment is that they are too powerful for their cost. Something has to be done about this situation, but the real problem is that u can stack a lot of them, reducing the surface area of engagement. For example you can squeeze them so they become fully surrounded by much fewer units and then they trade extremely favorably vs. any melee unit. In some cases you can be engaging 5:1 ratio.

In any case if a cost nerf is warranted how can it be implemented in a sane way? Even if it cost 70/70 or even more, their cost effectiveness would still be better than other cav. The same logic applies to stats. The individual lancer unit would have to be so weak and expensive in order make it balanced. If it loses its 1 range, then what is the point of the unit?

If there is any reasonable nerf then it has to come in the form of production, ie. how easy you can mass them, or a change in their timing. Perhaps an additional research in castle to enable lancer training? That way their investment carries an additional vulnerability in early castle age.

7 Likes

I see the only 1 way:
Remove all the anti-unit bonuses from them. Make them more expensive in gold. Make them creating time longer.

They don’t have bonuses against any unit type. They are weak vs. Camel Riders and Archers.

2 Likes

I wasn’t gonna say anything in this topic, but this idea is actually great.
If they’re to nerf the step lancers, nerfing the creating time would be the best for a unit that’s good in mass. Even with lower cost they aren’t all that great as cavaliers in small amounts, only in big amounts so they can actually take advantage of their +1 range.

2 Likes

They don’t do very well vs. Tuetonic Knights either xD

It is not fair to compare the step lancers stats with other units in isolation. Individually they are fairly weak and will lose those fights 1v1. However step lancers become incredibly strong when massed due to their ability to stack on top of each other (most abused with a stand ground patrol) where all step lancers will be dealing damage vs the other melee units who are pathing around each other to attack.

It is this ability which enables them to win a 60 v 60 against paladins or camel riders or halberdiers, even though individually they lose in a 1v1. Even archers do not counter them when massed. So I think potentially the best nerf against them is making it more difficult to get to that critical mass where they kill all. This is already very difficult to nerf since they are created from stables.

I like the idea of locking their creation behind a tech, potentially researched from the castle. This will delay the time before you can start massing them to get a snowball going, and requires further investment to get to that point.

3 Likes

This steppe (imba)lancers issue has highlighted for me something, which I have wanted to be fixed for a long time.

Game has ability for the units to stack on top of each other. This seems to be meant to make it easier to maneuver them around. For example you can select bunch of units arranged in formation in some direction and order them to move to destination behind them. Those units, which were at front will fluidly move over units on the back in order to make it to the front in other direction. During that time some units are stacked on top of each other.

Stacking makes it much more comfortable to maneuver units, but also allows exploit, where player can on purpose stack units on top of each other, so that they all can attack enemy units, while unstacked enemy units have trouble reaching them.
Players have learned of this exploit and are abusing it in variety of situations:

  1. Stacking melee units in order to attack enemy walls/gates with much more units at once than intended by game
  2. Stacking ranged units so that they all can fire at enemy units while only few enemy melee units can attack them due to their low surface area

People have been complaining about stacked archers, etc breaking balance because stacking has not been considered in balance. Archers are supposed to be reasonably easily killed by cavalry, unless player manages to create bottleneck. With stacking no bottleneck is necessary, because player can just unrealistically pack 40 archers on one tile and cavalry can’t attack many archers at once like they normally could.

Now people are trying to find ways how to balance steppe (imba)lancers, but have a serious problem, that they are much-much stronger in masses simply due to stacking exploit, so that you basically have to make them ridiculously weak invidually, unless you are going to let them be unstoppable in masses.
Even if you increase their creation time or make them trainable only in castles, you will still have a problem, that when player somehow manages to create mass of steppe (imba)lancers, then there will be no way how to stop them.

I suggest to fix all those balance problems with most logical solution - fix stacking exploit. When units are stacked, then only so many units should be able to attack from tile as would be able when unstacked. This keeps stacking as help for maneuvering units, but removes using it as exploit to make units stronger than they are supposed to be. Both steppe (imba)lancers and archers would immediately be much better balanced.

6 Likes

Their stats are already broken, especially as Cumans. They have 1.8 movement speed which is 33% faster than a teuton paladin and 21% faster than a Paladin with Husbandry. If you compare their attack to other meele units with range like mamelukes and kamayuks its waay more and btw these need castles to produce. even if this unit would have double the gold cost it would still not be ballanced. So learn from the creation of Kamayuks and Mameluks are lower their attack to say 7/9.
Then it will still be a unit that is good against meele in masses but not in small amounts. Also i would lower the speed because them being as fast as Hussars on top of their 10% speed bonus doesnt really make sense in combination with them being able to destroy heavy Cavalry. We all know how it feels to play Teuton Paladin against any other paladin. Now immagine playing Franks against a Unit that has double the speed advantage (or in case of Tatars about the same speed advantage)

2 Likes

As a constant Tatar player here are my tips vs Steppe Lancers,

-Don’t engage them with small numbers, you can scare knights with a few pikeman but not steppe lancers, outnumbered pikes will die instantly.
-Get a good surround of them, works great if you are not outnumbered. Remember they have a little HP.
-Ranged units, even skirms help a lot.
-Don’t engage them when they have the high ground, especially Tatar ones. Even Japanese halbs dies instantly.You can watch it here.
-Be awake, they can quickly destroy palisads but they don’t like tc/tower/castle fire.

I love them for defying the palisade walls and creating more fun games. Maybe lowering their pierce armor to 0(not elite lancer) would balance them. Also their production speed can be increased as it would be a legit answer to palisade walling.

I haven’t seen anyone talk about their attack rate yet. My issue with the idea of (significantly) reducing their attack damage is that the threshold between damage being too low or too high is very narrow with the AoE2 mechanics.

I think a better solution is to reduce their Attack Rate instead. Steppe Lancers have a Attack Rate of 1.9, which is “Normal”, most cavalry have either an Attack Rate of 1.8 or 1.9. So they are on the slower side of Attack Rates for cavalry, but this is still faster than what most units attack at. When we compare infantry, most infantry have an Attack Rate of 2, except for the Spearman Line which attacks at a rate of 3. In simplistic terms, Spearmen attack 33% slower than most infantry or Spearmen would only get 2 hits in at the same time most infantry get 3 hits in.

I think the 33% slower attack speed should apply to the Steppe Lancers because the +1 Ranges makes them much more effective than what their traditional stats shows. This suggestion would put their Attack Rate at around 2.8.

2 Likes

Im glad you made a post about this because they’re unstoppable if used correctly(which isnt difficult).

1 range and the low gold cost is one thing, and something i doubt they’ll change as it’s fundemental to the unit. I think the problem lies in the fact that steppe lancers are too fast. Steppe lancers base speed is 1.5 while camels is 1.45. Honestly the fact this was overlooked is really worrying.

Great idea, I think their attack damage should also be lowered, but we could start by removing the stacking.
One way to do it is to disable attacking while stacked.
Units that are stacked and want to attack have to move away from other units first.
Once they’ve found empty ground, they can start hitting/shooting.

1 Like