My proposal for the Sapper.
Disclaimer, as always - it’s a complete wishlist unit. Ain’t got no stats - tthough I’ve tried to be sensible and not add ridiculous abilities, auras, promotions but still fulfil a (fairly universal) useful and unique role.
[Age II Sapper - example is an English Civil War Engineer]
[Age II Aztec Yāōquīzqueh (commoners) - Digging Sticks were used to prise apart/undermine defenses and Commoners were normally the workforce for these actions. Commoner units woudl be the Aztec and Incan versions of the Sapper]
[Age IV Sapper - image of Napoleonic Sappers in the background - armoured!]
Throughout history and particular our AoE3 time-frame, there has always been a need for individuals to not only get into melee range and take apart enemy fortification with tools (axes, sticks, anything!). Normally these individuals were not only great at taking down enemy fortifications - they were also known for creating their own field fortifications.
Now whilst the unit concept is for the Sapper, this is basically a cover-all term for Sappers, Pioneers, Engineers and Commoners/Lower class warriors designated for siege construction/destruction. Basically each group, Euros, Africans, etc all have their respective naming. With that in mind, under a number of unit-game guises and models, - pretty much all playable civs* can get access to these units whether through shipments, alliances and their own Artillery Foundry/equivelent/in-lieu building.
So what are they in-game?
Sappers are first and foremost Melee Siege Units. Whilst depicted as singular human units, they are tagged very clearly as a Siege Unit. No blurring of roles - just a simple tagging that doesn’t need to confuse. Graphically they brandish their large sapper axes (or their regional equivalent like Aztec digging sticks) and carry other bulky tools/supplies on their back. With that in mind, they have a unique silhouette and look to other infantry to differentiate them. Further more, certainly in the European civs’ case, we cam have them armoured with helmet and cuirass as this was fairly common for the Engineers and Sappers to wear during combat to help protect from snipers.
Who can train them? *
Almost every civ, with exception of:
- Lakota - unless I can find out more, they would have to be able to ally with either Euro or other neighbouring Native Ameicans that did siege-like warfare
- Hauds - they already have two melee siege ‘human’ units, rendering a low rank warrior/laborer type pointless. Can possibly be addressed by adding Walls and the new Towers to the Battlefield Construction shipment.
What do they do?
The Sapper’s purpose is to provide a dedicated melee siege unit that is cheap in resource and pop cost compared to other siege units. With their Siege Unit tagging and the oft-shared trait of ranged resistance, they can be sprinkled with your attacking force to take on the walls up-close, protected by your other forces. Certain civs, like Native Americans may find their low-ranking commoner/warrior equivalents cheaper, weaker but quicker to train than the Euro ones as a way of giving their limited siege a boost in flexibility.
The other element in what a Sapper can do is build!. They can construct:
Wooden Walls (even with Bastion upgrade) - these can be called Palisades if you really want to, but basically it’s the basic wall (wood always looks best for field fortifications!).
Stockades [European/Fed States/African only]
Stockades are a (AD) Castle-esque building that can be garrisoned. They have a weak musket attack which is gradually upgraded to be salvos of musketry when you garrison your infantry units in. There could possibly be an upgrade to enable Cannon garrisoning for an additional attack, however the Stockade is very reliant on ‘manning’ it. Weaker in HP compared to Castles and has a similar build limit.
Tower [Asian Dynasties, Native Americans (different model)]
Civs with access to War Huts and Castles get the Tower instead. With a greater build limit and much cheaper to construct, the Tower acts very much like an Outpost though can be garrisoned (to smaller extent to Stockade) to amp up the firepower. Aztecs and Incans certainly made of towers for observation (and siege if some Mayan artwork is taken into consideration). Lakota to my knowledge didn’t but the Hauds were very much into wooden fortifications.
They can also potentially build other ‘more permanent’ military structures (Outposts/Barracks/etc) that are already started with a relevant Tech/shipment. Possibly a way of adding a similar ‘Battlefield Construction’ shipment to civs that may never see it.
Can we justify a melee siege unit?
Variety is always welcome providing it doesn’t muddy unit roles and actually provides something useful, so yes. If we look at the Europeans, it sits nicely to our general-use cannon (Falconet), our anti-artillery (Culverin), and long-range anti-building Mortar. It provides a cheap option at the expense of it being a little more expendable and arguably provides more of a niche slot than the current Grenadier. If your game changes and you find no opportunity to use a Sapper to hack at walls with his sapper’s axe, he still finds a purpose by being to guy to bring along with your army and construct useful structures.
Now, you say we have a Petard that does the job already? Well, no. Petards deal massive damage but are 1-shot suicide units. They also don’t have ranged resist. Sappers would be more comparable to Grenadiers in terms of health and have slightly higher Ranged Resist. The purpose is to get close to defenses with a mob other other units and chip away at the health.
“Awesome attire my good sir!”
Melee siege unit with some battlefield construction. No broad unit tags - purely a Siege Unit with all the pros and negatives that entails. Almost universal in some form to most civs (and if not, able to be shipped as ‘allied’ versions). For Europeans, a very distinctive (almost) archaic armoured look making it stand-out from other units. It sits well with the other ‘human’ siege units with a clearly unique and defined role.
True, though in the early game they can be beneficial. Melee Siege’s advantage should be the pop and resource cost vs ranged artillery. Late game is where the Sapper can benefit from its field building utility to keep it relevant, plus having another siege option for other non-Euros is a positive. But yes, ultimately cannons will win out, and rightly so.