Hello fellow Age of Empires 3 players!
I came up with this idea of a new unique military unit that can be trained by the French from the Artillery Foundry. I would really appreciate your feedback concerning this unit because it could tip the balance of the game. With the help of your feedback additional adjustments can be made to this unit so that it won’t be overpowered if it ever gets added to the game in the future.
Edit: I have made some new changes to this post where I have rewritten some things. Therefore the text that I have removed does no longer apply for this discussion anymore, unless the ideas described in the deleted text can be adjusted in some way which can make them realisable.
Pontonnier: “*Siege unit that can build bridges faster than other builders. Good against Heavy Infantry, Cavalry and Buildings.” (In-game description)
The Pontonnier will be available from the [Artillery Foundry] once reaching the [Fortress Age]. They will behave similar to a [Musketeer] but also be classified as a Siege Unit as well, however, they will only have half the attack range of a Musketeer and occupy 2 population slots.
Aside from being a Musketeer-like Siege Unit with multipliers against Heavy Infantry, their other advantage is that they can build [Bridges] faster than other units. [Bridges] will be a new general structure that will be featured on certain maps just like with the [Trading Post].
And before I continue I want to give a shout-out to @M00Z1LLA who provided this idea of building general bridges on the map, which was his response to my original idea that wasn’t perhaps the best idea: Where only this [Pontonnier] unit and the Europeans could build Pontoon Bridges that would function either as structures built across the water or as boats where each of these units would function as mobile bridge sections that can be connected with each other thus creating a walkable platform anywhere on the map with water.
[Bridges] will have fixed construction points so a player cannot build a Bridge wherever they want. In addition the building time for the bridges could take a considerable amount of time before reaching completion and be rather costly to build as well. This will serve as a trade-off so that they will not become easily exploitable. One other thing that will set this structure apart from the [Trading Post] is that regardless who built it the bridge won’t belong to any player, therefore it cannot be deleted. The only way to “delete” it is through destroying the bridge with other military units.
If a player happens to destroy a bridge while enemy units are traversing on it this will lead to the same result as when Ships transporting units are sunken, where any unit that is on the bridge that has been destroyed, including allies, will die instantly. [Explorers] and other Hero units who happens to be on the bridge as it collapses can be ransomed by paying [Mother Nature].
Going back to the Pontonnier, they are based on the military unit with same name who served Napoleon Bonaparte mainly as bridge builders. They helped the emperor to get his forces across water obstacles by erecting pontoon bridges and their skills allowed Bonaparte to outflank enemy positions by crossing rivers where the enemy least expected it. The Pontonnier were apparently instrumental during an event known as the “Great Retreat from Moscow” where they saved Napoleon and his army from complete annihilation at Beresina.
They may not have been given the same glory as the other soldiers, but Bonaparte clearly valued his Pontonniers and had 14 companies commissioned into his armies according to the information stated on “Napoleon Guide” (Pontonniers : Bridge Builders : French : Napoleonic Wars : Napoleon Bonaparte : Bonaparte's Army).
The French could be given a upgrade for their Musketeers instead of this Pontonnier unit where they will be renamed to “Pontonnier”, but I really think that the [Pontonnier] deserves the spot of becoming a new unique unit for the French civilisation in order to praise these underrated soldiers from the past.