Simple thing to consider, as of now unlike Battle Elephants, SL are too similar to knights and being less cost effective, are never seen. SL civs always go plain old Knights when going cavalry.
So a proposed solution to both, the underwhelming nature of SL as well as its non-use lies maybe in removing Knights altogether from Cumans, Tatars and Mongols, BUFFING the SL in exchange.
I do think Mongols and Tatars specifically should lose knights in exchange for a buff to SL.
This is because it solves two problems:
SL are too similar to knights. Therefore, only one can see the light of day.
SL civs never get to use them in serious play. Which is a consequence of the fact that SL can either be better or worse than Knights (1 above).
Cumans can keep Paladin with no bonus SL OR Cumans can get a bonus upgrade on their SL(Imperial SL etc) to compensate for Paladin. But Tatars and Mongols with Knights is quite weird design-wise as well as balance-wise (for SL).
I know it would be more work, but this would also be a very easy way of improving unit variety in Castle Age and make the 3 civs more unique.
NOTE: I hope you as a reader understand that just 'being more work’ is not reason enough to counter-argue such changes, if for any.
I hope you are not part of NCBW (No Changes Because Winrate) or NCBMW (No Changes Because More Work) blocs.
Hmmm this isn’t without precedent. The meso american civs have the eagle warrior playing substitute.
This works because the counters and uses of eagle warriors are different enough (eagles are weak to champ line and have lesser stats in exchange to being strong against monks and halb line)
Realistically, we would need to change the utility of the unit. At it’s core the ranged-ness of the stepped lancer doesn’t change what the stepped lancer is useful for - so the decision becomes about cost effectiveness.
I counter suggest doing to the steppe lancer what the Asian civs did for Persian elephants. Make the steppe lancer a poor stat version of the cataphract. Make them really good against infantry, but lower their effectiveness against either archers or other calvalry somehow (maybe lowering their hp and Pierce armor?) Do it to a point where they just tear through halbs, but waiver at charging other knights or Archer fire.
frankly, two of the current Steppe Lancers civs don’t even use Knights all that much, with only Cumans seriously using them.
they were designed like that from the start of their introduction, as horses didn’t exist in the Americas until nearly 1500.
the fact of the matter is though, that the only reason to do this is to try to increase diversity, and short of buffing the steppe lancer to the point of it being broken, only one of the current civs would actually consider using it. the mongols prefer light cav and the tatars prefer keshik as is.
I main Mongols and their knight rush is an extremely good option. They have blood lines and a strong eco bonus to get them to fast castle. I mean they’re no Frank’s but their knight rush is an option I use maybe 40% of the time. You already have stables from scout rushing and it’s easy to splash camels to fend off other knights. But I’ve never produced a single steppe lancer in a ranked game as Mongols. Honestly, I rarely utilize the hp bonus on light cav. Unless a large enough number of scouts survived, knights are way better for early castle age combat.
I don’t think it’s a bad idea in itself, I have been thinking myself for months now that there is a possibility for some of the Steppe Lancers civs to lack knights. But it might require some buffs to the unit first to be more viable first.
Mongols and Tatars are the obvious candidates for that. Cumans are not, because having Paladin is very civ defining and it would create a hole in the tech tree that SL could not possibly fill. Meanwhile Mongols and Tatars don’t rely much on Cavaliers in imp so it’s not as much of an issue.
That being said, even for Mongols and Tatars, losing knights in castle age would be a significant castle age nerf. SL don’t deal with archers nearly as well as knights, so it would be something to look into before trying this kind of change. But I wouldn’t mind trying it.
SL also get wrecked by enemy knights as well, as they have no melee armor, low health, and a low attack speed (2.3). they also cost a lot of food (70 each) and that is prohibitive in the castle age. you would have to significantly change the SL for it be a viable knight replacement, and at that point, it would basically be just another knight.
losing knights would straight up kill the civ because you have no other way to survive the early castle age, as Trirem pointed out.
as for making the SL a knight replacement lets compare.
Steppe Lancer 60 base health, 0/1 armor, 9 base attack, 2.3 attack speed, +1 Range 70 food and 45 gold.
Knight 100 base health, 2/2 armor, 10 base attack, 1.8 attack speed, 60 food, 75 gold.
the SL as is would get wrecked by both archers and enemy knights, it is food prohibitive in the castle age as is.
you’d have to completely rework it for it to make an effective knight replacement.
true camels exist but the fact is, but short of a complete unit overhaul, the steppe lancer can’t become the core of an army the way the way the knight is. At that point, the SL might as well just be another knight. i’d just find a way to make the SL more useful as a raider it is well built to be, say lower its food cost a bit and make it attack faster.
Serious question here.
if the goal is to have the SL replace the knight, and you have to change it to fulfill a similar role as the knight, is that really helping diversity? i mean sure, it’s got a new look, and a new name, but it fills the same role and does the same thing as a knight, all you’ve done is changed the look and the name, it’s still a “knight”.
This is a very good point. I feel that we can try to think this as inca Kamayuk vs champions.
The idea of the +1 range should be that you do very well in close formations. Moreover SL can be faster than knights and camels for instance, making them excellent at raiding.
I would keep them weaker than knights, especially vs archers. As for the cuman imperial SL that I proposed, it can be even with +2 range, or have similar stats to Paladins.
For me the range and a better speed are an ok distinction. Knights will be strong in direct fight and vs archers, but slower and will have more problems in closed passages.
There is not a huge difference between longboat and galleons. As between Paladins and boyards. Boyards are better knights vs knights, weaker knights vs archers. SL can be a cheaper and faster knights, more dangerous in groups… maybe add a bonus vs economic units.
they would require a substantial health buff (currently 80 with blood lines, that isn’t going to be good for a core melee unit), a good attack speed buff (currently 2.3), you’d need to adjust their armor (1/1 or 2/1), and adjust their price (70 food is a bit much in the castle age).
But lancer’s strength is in numbers. The knight shines in its individual strength, in the event of feudal pressure and you somehow get to castle, a few knights can easily clean up a feudal army. This is a big nerf