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:
- Stacking melee units in order to attack enemy walls/gates with much more units at once than intended by game
- 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.