So, there are a couple of thought streams here.
First, steppe lancers don’t see alot of use. They don’t really have a role, and they are either underpowered or overpowered.
Second, the cavalier vs the keshik. A group of cavaliers is just… better at taking down a TC, and while part of this is absolutely due to the fact that cavs have 1 more attack, a big part is due to the fact that keshiks have terrible pathing, and can’t seem to all engage at same time like cavs can.
Third, tartars. Tartars get flaming camels which are criminally underused, but they also get superiour trebuchets. This leads to a situation where keshiks are not produced, and instead cavs, hussars, or steppe lancers are produced because better trebs > cavalry.
Castle age keshiks are ok, but in the imp age, they are almost never produced, so why even bother researching elite keshik? So, all that said, here is an idea for tartars that fixes a few things.
What if the keshik were turned into a pair of technologies that targeted the Tartar steppe lancer? The elite
steppe lancer and the elite Keshik have the same attack. With silk armor, the armor for steppe lancers is just 1 less pierce armor than the keshik. The big differences are that steppe lancers have 80 hitpoints, but keshiks have 140 hitpoints, steppe lancers hit slightly slower, Keshiks generate gold on attack, and steppe lancers have 1 range…
So, keshik training at the castle.
Keshik training: Your steppe lancers now generate gold when they attack, and have 15 additional hitpoints.
Elite Keshik training: Your steppe lancers get an additional 15 hitpoints, and 1p armor.
So, this new Steppe lancer with full keshik training gets 30 additional hitpoints bringing it up to 110 hitpoints. This is less hitpoints than a current keshik or a cavalier. It has identical armor to a current keshik. It has identical damage, slightly slower attack, and 1 range. In combat, it will deal higher initial damage against structures, but the damage for small groups will fall off. compared to current keshiks, because its atk speed is lower. For larger groups (30+) the damage will remain much higher, but the overall efficiency at destroying enemy units is lower. It costs 10 more food than a current keshik, but it can be massed at the stables.
So, if massed, it really is just a more resilient Steppe lancer, and it gives a big role to tartar steppe lancers.