Ultimate Infantry viability changes

Hi all, I’ll make this introduction short and straight to the point: I’ve compiled the best ideas I’ve seen around or thought of myself on how to actually make Infantry a real part of the AoE unit composition strategy, without having to rely solely on stacked Civ bonuses.

These ideas can work alongside each other or individually, naturally, so it’s not about making all these changes at once, or at all:

1. Militia Line Upgrades are removed, except for MAA in Feudal and Champion in Imp, for balance purposes: As you go up to Castle and Imp, Long and Two Handed Swordsman are researched instantly.
- Balance counterpoint: Civs that wouldn’t have access to these techs anyways remain as such; Civs that would benefit too much from it may get a nerf to their Civ bonuses (since the idea is make Inf less reliant on bonuses, and I don’t think this single change will make Militia-line a viable option for generic Infantry civs anyways)

2. Instead of a direct buff to Infantry speed, add one or two new tiers to the Squires upgrade in Castle/Imp, with another %increase to infantry movement speed.
- Balance counterpoint: Cost/research time and availability to civilizations can be easily changed to guarantee balance. In fact, having multiple tiers of the tech will make it easier to balance out how many each civ will get, instead of the current “you either do or you don’t” that we have with Squires; Squires can be made weaker so it would be a nerf to Infantry speed in Feudal/early Castle, a small buff in late Castle after researching the Tier 2, and then finally by researching tier 3 Infantry would become “fast” compared to what we have now (maybe 1.1 - Currently Champs move at 0.9, Halbs at 1.1 and EEW at 1.3)

3. Add +1 pierce armor to selected infantry (maybe certain UU, Militia line or Spear line) and then +1 or +2 Skirmisher damage bonus against infantry.
- Balance counterpoint: Archers will remain as a strong back DPS but will be slightly less effective against Infantry, while Skirms remain the same specially in trash wars.

4. Infantry Civs in general should be able to focus on their “signature” infantry, while Militia line is a transition/complementing unit, not the end goal. So, buff to unique Infantry units, most probably creation speed across the board (being limited by Castles is already good enough), or base stats (for example, I understand that Jaguar warriors are supposed to be an infantry counter but being completely and utterly useless against anything else, while being outclassed in their own role by Arbalests is sad, make it at least better than a generic Champion). I’m sure everyone would like to see more Samurai/Berserkers/Teutonic Chads, etc
- Balance counterpoint: The requirement of building and maintaining Castles is already a huge deal to all civs, so most of the times the only civs that try to go for it are ones with ranged UU such as Mayans, Mongols, Berbers, Koreans, Spanish…because you can keep them alive. As for Cavalry UU, most are good but expensive, but will work if you get there (War Eles, Catas, Leitis, Konniks, Keshiks)…But for Infantry UU, as we know the unit type is in general hard to make work, as they lack mobility, range and/or population efficiency; but for UU it’s worse as upgrades and risks are as high as any other UU, so there is no incentive to go for them as a game plan, instead of wasting resources on Castles most Inf civs skip it completely in favor of Barracks. There’s a debate to be had that all civs should be able to rely on their UU as they are one of the few things that make civs unique, but aside from that, Infantry UU should get even more attention that the general Infantry class if they are ever to be considered as a strategy over Barracks units.

- Final brainstorming crazy idea: Currently the rock/paper/scissors balance consists of Cavalry > Archers & Skirms > Spears. You can include Skirmishers to the “Archer” structure since they have bonus to Spearline anyways. But all other foot infantry is completely out of this structure. It doesn’t counter Cav or Archers so it doesn’t serve any purpose, unless it’s backed by super-stacked civ bonuses.
Why not make the formula "“Cav > Ranged > Infantry > Cav”, where foot infantry not necessarily counters it, but is more comparably paired against Cavalry, efficiency-wise. Other Age games tried to fix this by making Cav cost 2 population while foot soldiers cost 1. Maybe here this could come in the form of bonus damage, reduced damage from Cav, or some sort of other crazy buff (for each nearby adjacent infantry unit you get a stacking attack/melee armor bonus up to a cap). Cavalry should still beat them in equal numbers and maybe resources, but historically a cavalry charge against an infantry formation was not necessarily casualty-free for the horsies, unlike in the game currently (literally, there are videos around, 15 generic so-called ‘Champions’ vs 15 generic Paladins, Palas win without losing a single unit…really?)
Make it so Cav is still super scared of Pikes but a bit more scared of Champions too, so Cavalry role still remains as the best pop-efficiency but not by a landslide, focusing more on flanking, raiding and dealing with archers; Infantry role now becomes pushing a position forward despite casualties, due to being more resistant in melee while being cheaper and faster produced (so better meat shields than Hussar even), and finally Ranged units remain the back DPS/defense tool that need to be protected from any units getting into melee range. I can see this solving the Cav/Archer composition meta that we had for ages in team games, while also making infantry more relevant overall and increasing the number of viable strategies for all civs

TL;DR: Changes to be applied individually or in conjunction to one another: Number of Militia-Line techs reduced; Squires tech has more tiers at later ages; Infantry slightly better pierce armor across the board; All UU Infantry is now clearly better than Barracks infantry; Final crazy idea - Make foot Infantry (excluding Spears) less vulnerable to Cavalry;

  • either man-at-arm or longswords cost no resources once age up, but still take research time?

  • squire in feudal? imo thats enough of a speed boost for infantry. this would work nicely if player didn’t have to spend res on the above, squire pretty expensive if it’ll be a feudal age tech unless cost reduced.