The issue with balancing

I have a beef with having a “balanced” game. Yes, you read it right. I like OP and UP factions and here is why.

I have been playing AOE3 since 2005 I think. I used to love playing as France against a couple of AL opponents. Admittedly the lake of I in old AI was obvious and it made things a lot easier. But it still had a lot to do with France being so OP (2pop Cuirassiers,3 forts etc). Similarly, it was very satisfying to take a UP faction (like Spain on land maps) and beat stronger factions. It gave skirmishes a feel of campaign missions. Now since everything is balanced, it just feels like a numbers game. Who can mass the biggest army the quickest will win.
This is also not really historically accurate. The game covered roughly 1500 - 1850 during which many nations rise and fall but you can still rank them. Or you can safely say that at no point in time Dutch were as powerful as France or Portuguese were as Spain or England. It also kills the unit’s uniqueness. For example, the original Cassador would make a big part in any Portuguese play. Now, it’s just another reskinned skirmisher.
You can use player handicap to make someone OP but once all techs and cards have been used, it again comes down to numbers.
This is not a complaint post, just wanted to know what others think about this.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I only play single player against AL and completely understand why balancing is necessary, especially for MP.

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