What China needs next in the PUP

Hello! I’m u60cf28, a Conqueror 1 (yay) China main, who some of you know as the guy who makes long winded analysis on why China needs a buff. Well, I was going to make another one concerning the PUP changes last week, but then the devs finally gave China a much-needed, and much-appreciated, buff, and I decided both to postpone my post and greatly shorten it. Now, I’ve played about 20 PUP games, about 12 before the Academy buff and 8 since. The following analysis is based in part on my own experience playing the PUP

The original post was going to start by analyzing the role of the clocktower bombard - how it was, at least in my opinion, 75% of the reason why China was so strong in Imperial. It was going to note how the bombard filled not only an anti-building role, but also anti-siege and anti-unit. That the anti-siege role was gone from the Pyrotechnics nerf, and the anti-unit role was gone from the general siege changes that halved bombard base damage. That this, combined with the grenadier nerf, made Chinese in Imperial quite mediocre, weaker than English and Rus and HRE and Abbasid. That the buffs to the Barbican and Granary, and changes to the GWG and Spirit Way were not enough to compensate. And that overall, this no doubt made China the worst civ in the game, with a fall from its current 47% winrate to 40% possible (As seen in February when the Clocktower got nerfed).

And at the end of that post, I was going to lay out three possible (exclusive) paths for the devs to take to address this. The first option was to revert the Pyrotechnics nerf. The second option was to allow the clocktower to be supervised again. And the third option was to provide a series of other, smaller, buffs that would make China more well-rounded. One of these buffs was the Academy buff that the devs ended up doing. So, here I’ll present the remaining small buffs that I feel China needs to go in the direction the devs want it to be.

The purpose of these buffs are two-fold:

  1. To improve China in castle age in a similar way that the Academy buff improved Chinese feudal
  2. To motivate Chinese players to go for Yuan and Ming Dynasties more often, as Yuan is very rarely used nowadays and Ming is likely to also fall out of use, with the Grenadier nerfs

The Buffs:

Imperial Palace now also increases Imperial Official capacity by 2, to a total of 6

With every nerf to siege, the clocktower gets weaker. And yet, it is still the go to castle age landmark for China because the Imperial Palace is just that bad. This buff is intended for the choice between Clocktower and Palace to be similar to that between the French Guild Hall and Royal Institute (which is also getting a buff), or the Regnitz vs the Burgrave. The Royal Institute asks “Can you end the game in castle” while the Imperial Palace/Clocktower choice asks “Do you need siege”. Making both landmarks a real choice also increases the motivation to go for Yuan Dynasty, possibly even before Imperial.

Also, with the keep repair change, putting an IO on stone is very important now, which means you have little options if you want to supervise production/blacksmith or collect taxes. This buff will give China the option to be much more flexible and dynamic in castle and imperial, without buffing its oppressive, anti-fun elements.

Fire Lancer: +1 base Ranged Armor. Does more damage to Ranged units and Siege

Right now, both in the live game and the PUP, there is no reason to build fire lancers over horsemen. Horsemen are cheaper, faster, tankier, and acually useful in combat. The fire lancer’s uselessness is the main reason why Yuan Dyansty is so rarely used. The devs have said that they have future plans for the fire lancer, and I think this would be a good direction for those changes to go in.

The speed buff they already implemented means that fire lancers are as fast as knights, so horsemen are still faster. +1 ranged armor is a necessity, considering that the horseman is literally being buffed to 1/2/3/4 armor. And the fire lancer should also counter ranged units and siege like the horseman does. One important thing to note is that the general siege changes mean that fire lancers no longer use their strong torches vs siege. The devs gave horsemen bonus damage vs siege, but forgot to give fire lancers the same. And before anyone mentions it, no, the AOE charge radius is too small to work on siege. There are a few options the devs could take to buff Fire Lancer damage.

The conservative: Fire lancers gain the same bonus attack damage vs siege and ranged that horsemen do. This would be the safe option, but has the downside of making Fire Lancers very similar to horsemen

The risky: Fire lancers now receive a bonus on their AOE charge damage vs ranged and siege. Double damage perhaps? (horsemen do double damage vs ranged with their auto-attack). This has the benefit of differentiating the Fire Lancer and the Horsemen - the Fire Lancer wants to hit and run while the Horseman is better at sustained engagements. However, it has the downside of being a slight return to “Fire Lancers can wipe your entire (ranged) army if you aren’t paying attention”, though ofc melee units will be unaffected by this change.

Another idea: Fire Lancers still pull their torches out vs siege. Not sure if this could be too strong though, with all the HP changes.

Chinese Landmarks now all act as tax dropoff sites

Tax collection is still a very clunky mechanic, and this is intended to help with that a bit.

Spirit Way: I made a separate post last week on how the Spirit Way should be changed, which you can see here: https://www.reddit.com/r/aoe4/comments/v9yk3o/on_the_new_spirit_way/

Grenadier: Pyrotechnics also applies to Grenadiers

Yes, Grenadiers are too good in the current live patch. But they’ve been over-nerfed. Before people knee-jerk react, let me point out all the ways Grenadiers have been nerfed:

Damage reduced
AOE reduced
Range directly reduced from 4 to 3
Pyrotechnics nerf further reduces range, as it affected Grenadiers before
Spirit Way change - makes massing grenadiers much harder
Grenadier attack changed so it deals 1 damage vs siege, instead of its old 30.

This is a sextuple nerf. I think Beastyqt said it best when he was reviewing the patch notes - he hates how Relic seems to nerf everything about the unit at once. I think that at the very least, the range of the Grenadier should remain about the same. The 3 range of the PUP grenadier feels absolutely awful to play with; you actively feel punished for building your double-imperial unique unit. And ideally, units would not feel clunky or punishing to use. This proposed change would make Grenadier range 4.5 - still a nerf compared to its old range of 4.8. But it would actually give you a reason to go for Ming and Grenadiers instead of just building handcannons, and building unique units should be encouraged.

Imperial Legacy: If all seven Chinese landmarks have been constructed and are alive, all four dynasty passive effects are active.

This is the main buff intended to promote going for Yuan and Ming Dyansty. It is a reward for China players who are able to trade so cost-effectively, or outmacro their opponents so well, that they can go double-feudal, double-castle, and double-imperial (which is 6000 additional resources). I do think that if China is able to spend that many resources on double-aging up, they should be the strongest civ at that point in the late-late game. I am fine with China’s current PUP mediocrity in early-Imperial, but I want the civ to have at least some of its old post-Imperial strength.

This change is intended to make them strong in post-Imperial while not feeling nearly as oppressive as the current grenadier/bombard. Keep in mind that this effect is intended to turn off if you destroy a Chinese landmark (and turns back on if it’s fully repaired). And the Great Wall Gatehouse, the Imperial Palace, and (to a lesser extent) the Barbican are all motivated to be in forward, exposed positions. This provides counterplay for the opponent.

Bug Fix: Reload Drills now properly increases Bombard attack speed by 33%

The PUP was supposed to buff Reload Drills from 25% increased attack speed to 33%. On live, Bombard reload time w/Reload Drills is 4.2, while in the PUP it is… 4.19. This is obviously not correct.


China need Buff early and middle game.

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Before BUFF China’s early and mid-term, they must first give China a sufficient advantage in the later period to break the deadlock. Now PUP’s Chinese late stage is even weaker than the original, which is confusing.


I can tell you rn. If grenadiers get even 0.5 tile less range they lose their value so much. Range for unit like grenadier is crucial and most important factor. Only way to compensate range loss usually is to give faster attack speed or more direct dmg which they don’t get. Also they’re expensive af.

Im leaning more and more towards that they should rework china from scratch. More I think of it more it starts to make sense.

I had this in mind for a while.

Chinese 1x landmark does not age up china anymore so they have to build 2 landmarks and its called dynasty up.

China losses access to universal units like archers, lancers and handcannoneers. All of them are replaced with zhuge nu, firelancer, grenadier this way china becomes much more unique and these units can be core part of chinese army without niche usage like “only supposed to be raiding unit”

Zhuge nu receives unique tech in imperial making them better against armored (not as good as xbow) called explosibe arrow. Also unit is reworked bit to be less kiteable (still doable but harder earlier stages of game)
Firelancers losses most of its landmark/building dmg and siege dmg but in return charge deals more dmg to single target (small area aoe and dmg still remains)
Grenadiers gain same range as handcannoneers and deal bit more dmg to single target and aoe could’ve different affects like slowing down unit for 0.5 seconds etc and small amount of dmg.

Obviously all the costs etc should re tweaked.

What I dislike current china is actually dynasty system. It doesnt feel rewarding and building 2 landmarks just slows china down. Landmark prices are cut by 50% because both are needed for “age up” and bonuses tweaked accordingly but all bonuses will be kept like song faster villager production in yuan etc but tweaked.

IA contains new various unique techs for example improved IO’s faster movement speed / health generation out of combat, faster IO training time, cheaper IO etc
IP is like IA but when IO is placed in IP it will gather all taxes from remote locations every x seconds and these can then be delivered to TC or something else. Also contains more unique techs for castle / imperial age like the explosive arrows. (Essentially same as the fire arrow but new visuals to suite chinese theme)

IA losses its double tax generation. I find it annoying to play simcity now that granaries are more frequently used. Chinese unique buildings are too big to fit in desired location and simply removing this as nerf to more automated tax collection I feel is good trade.

Granary losses its radiues. This is another annoying thing. Granary is so big that placing them in base on small map can be difficult and often results things to overlap too much. Removing the area will fix this but ofc it removes the part of thinking simcity but this is not really simcity game so should it really exist? Also granaries would be nerffed because they would affect all farms globally so maybe 5% for each granary?

But dunno just thoughts about the civ. Obviously I want it stay similar focusing gunpowder, dynasties and expansions. Also I would return clockwork tower IO supervision because it only produces siege in rate of 1x and is tied to location of clockwork which devs neglected to realize, but in return reduce extra HP by 15-30% and out of combat siege units heal 20hp per second when villagers are repairing it. So it removes too strong healing during battle but lets china fix things faster when there is no combat.

They had made it VERY clear in at least 2 patch notes with dev notes that they want the Fire lancer to be a designated RAIDING unit. Now we can agree/disagree in if the unit is optimally fulfill its role or not, but your suggestions defeat the design direction the devs have clearly stated. More on Fire lancers in a little bit.

We’ve not seeing the full effects of being able to make Imperial officials from the Imperial Academy yet; maybe it’s not enough? maybe its just what we needed? maybe its overpowered? Either way IMO, we should SEE real data develop on this change before we suppose everything is going faster to hell.

Now back to the Fire Lancer. The Devs already made clear what direction they want this unit to go: RAIDER.

To be fair because of Yuan Dynasty speed buff the Fire Lancer speed becomes the same speed as the STANDARD horseman speed for every other civ (except Yam network/movement arrow Mongols). I suggest they added a bonus damage vs villagers something between 3-5 bonus damage AND they allow Fire Lancers to generate bounty.

These types of enhancements would bolster their raiding potential while adding little to army engagements.

I agree that Chinese Landmarks should act as tax dropoff sites, but I think China needs other ways to gather tax. For example Keeps should act as drop-off sites.

In another thread I posted a suggestion for an upgrade in Age II or Age III which would automatically turn incoming tax into gold on the building thats being supervised by an IO. That would mean you get 4-8 gold when a unit is produced or 1-2 gold when ressources is dropped of.

I’m not saying this should be available right away, for this would change Chinese earlygame too greatly. Its not my intention to heavily buff Chinese earlygame, instead I want the ability for Chinese to actually collect tax mid to lategame. Imagine this: An upgrade in Age II or Age III, cost could even be 100 wood 200 gold (so quite expensive) that would allow you to automatically convert tax into gold when your supervise a building.

This helps to solve the issue of Chinese being unable to collect tax from buildings far away from starting TC and starting Landmarks.

Pyrotechnics must not reduce the range of Grenadiers, Nest of Bees, Bombards and Baochuans. The fact that all siege units got their HP reduced by about 50% and repair rate of villagers was reduced from 20 HP/s to 5 HP/s is already enough of a nerf for Chinese siege. This also means Ming Dynasty is much weaker than before.

The grenadier nerfs are severe. The range nerf must not go through, since 3.0 range is too little.

Nest of Bees do not deserve any more nerfs. They need bonus range from Pyrotechnics. The unit is still not better than Mangonels despite being a unique unit. See Streltsy, Arbaletrier or Longbowmen, these units are much better than the standard unit.

The Handcannoneer change might turn out to be too powerful. But it will also mean no one is going to build Zhuge Nu or Crossbows in Age IV. Their upgrades cost 700 gold each. Why would you upgrade them if building Handcannoneers is better? Horsemen are getting +2 armor in Age IV, so Zhuge Nu will be useless against them, and they already fall off in Age III against Knights and MAA. They would need an upgrade against armor to be worth considering. Handcannoneers are simply a better investment. Even better than Crossbowmen.

Imperial Palace should unlock the +30 HP upgrade on Palace Guards and be able to produce Palace Guards.

This Landmark is too weak and Chinese needs more options in Age III. If this change would go through, then Chinese could be more aggressive in Age III, but without having Clocktower units. So this will weaken their Age IV somewhat since they will be much slower at building up Clocktower siege units.

This would also serve as a buff to Yuan Dynasty, since Yuan Dynasty isn’t worth using at all. Pagodas are too weak, they still do not benefit from tithe barns (which they should). They should also provide a bonus to gold collection, for example +25 gold every 30 seconds when you place a relic inside. That would make them generate 50 gold, 100 food 100 wood 100 stone every minute and they would be worth using.

Yuan Dynasty was already never used because Ming Dynasty was stronger, but now Ming Dynasty lost a ton of value since Grenadiers got nerfed into the ground. Chinese needs some help, unless the devs want them to become laughing stock yet again.

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I don’t get why ppl get the urge to have keeps / outposts as drop points. Bad idea. Taxes are already not big deal from 1 resource camp IF the investment to get them is costly and its much more effective to stop raiding with walls than outpost or keep especially when keep gets nerffed in next patch.

Takes essentially 45 seconds to outpost pay off from tax and this also means china needs to micro manage IO through whole game which is not good design. Players cant be at multiple locations at once and bother spent APM on IO micro when there is more important things.

It takes 300 seconds to keep payoff. One big gold contains 800 gold so it essentially just pays off the keep. “oh but have multiple resources” of have more micro to control IO from gold to pick lumber, stone or food and waste the 20% benefit from the drop offs. Not good deal. Bad idea.

Depending on game mode and situation PG is not great unit. Yes its faster but its worse for raiding than lancer and it gets hard countered too many units like xbows, knights/lancers or just opponents MAA. They’re fast to die literally. Fast to run into fight and die and fast to die.

On the Fire Lancer: I think it’s quite obvious that Fire Lancers do not serve their intended purpose right now. They are not built in high level games at all. The Horseman is, in fact, a better raiding unit than the Fire Lancer. Like I said, it’s faster, cheaper, and tankier. There is no situation where I as a Chinese player, even if I’m already in Yuan Dynasty, would want to build Fire Lancers instead of Horsemen.

There’s a design issue with giving units like the Fire Lancer bonus damage vs villagers; don’t think that’s very good for the game. I think it would be unfun if the fire lancer were any better at killing villagers. Which is why I fundamentally disagree with the devs that the Fire Lancer should exclusively be a raiding unit. Rather, why not make them good as a Hit-and-Run unit vs ranged units and siege? That still makes them different from the Horseman.

And yes, perhaps we haven’t had full time to process the impact of the Academy buff. Unfotunatley not enough people play the PUP for that to be possible. But I can tell you that from my experience playing the PUP, it does not feel like it is enough. And since the PUP literally closed today, I thought that it would be good to provide feedback for the devs before the patch goes live in a few weeks.


If the argument is “build a Keep just to collect Tax” then I agree with you. The reason I came up with the idea to make Keeps act as tax drop off (which I came up with many many months ago btw) was simply because usually players build Keeps next to stone and gold veins to get that area secured. This was way before we even saw the change for Keeps and Walls to cost stone to repair.

Overall the goal is and has always been to enable Chinese to collect their tax in the mid to lategame. Because we all know you cannot do that once mining camps, lumber camps and your production buildings are build further away from your starting location.

Why does Rus have no problems with turning trees into gold from literally anywhere on the map, but Chinese has to put up with this clunky and gimmicky tax mechanic which we have been complaining about since stress test?

Thats why I came up with this idea.

Now I think this is a better idea. Either way the devs need to fix tax collection. Its been an issue and a complaint since before release of the game.

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On this I do completely agree. They need to utilize the tax income somehow, but anything that requires investment, “big” investment and micro is out of question especially when the “reward” every 15seconds is 80g max.

I heard the keeps/outposts and dropping multiple TC’s suggestions multiple times and everytime I say this. Its not good solution.

Its not like french dropping keep to gain -20% cost reduction. which can be utilized through game as long as it lives meanwhile once resources dry out thats it there is no more use for it. Not for protection or tax drop off. This is why inveting 800 or 700 resources to make it barely back is not worth and the fact that there is no way to control the IO’s and iIO usage continues to be just supervising buildings.

Not sure if you read my thoughts about china above but if IP worked as tax collection agency which collected all the taxes from far away buildings etc or china could toggle it to collect tax from all mining camps / lumber etc and slowly it would gather them there when IO is supervising it or something but it has to be automatic process the longer game goes. Early on microing IO is fine but in late early game and mid game to late game microing IO is super low priority.

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I loved your idea of allowing IO’s to actively superivse and auto collect taxes!! This idea could potentially be broken EVEN if they insured the auto tax only work on incoming drop-offs and not work retroactively.

I’d like the idea of allowing 6 IOs and this function be appended to Yuan Dynasty.


We disagree on the direction to take fire lancers…so lets talk to rest of yuan dynasty.

1800 res is 7.5 lancers, or 15!! Crossbows or a small versatile comp that cpuld each SERIOUSLY impact if not flat out decide an early mid castle skirmish. Nevermind the 4min10s of villagers idle time to build the second landmark.

It’s only the 3 of us making all the china posts so we could at least attempt to finds ideas we can all get behind?

So I’ll make a list of perks i wish the devs would take some combination of them to implement.

Yuan Dynasty

  1. 15% movement speed
  2. Pagoda just 1 instead of 3 and the one has the inherent generation of having 1 relic in it, so a max potential of housing 3 relics and getting a total generation of 300 gold 200 food, wood, stone per min.
  3. Adds 2 to the IO build capacity
  4. Auto tax collection on all builds every 150s, has to be researched at the Imperial palace or academy. This alone would free IOs to strictly superivse yet not be so overpowered that enemies could not destroy exposed drop-offs in-between auto tax windows.
  5. Fire lancers bonus vs villagers AND have the ability to attack full constructed stone walls as effectively as rams. Fire lancers gain bounty. Nobody will ever be safe!! Make the villager bonus, the stonewall attack and bounty all researched abilities in order to slow down the power spike. All researched at the stable.
  6. Offer Imperial upgrades like the +30 hp for PGs and 25% discount on NOBs.
  7. Granary bonus increases to 15%; and if not already unlocked via song dynasty will now be unlocked via Yuan. This would encourage fast castle play that seamlessly transitions into yuan dynasty that doesn’t have to necessarily go backwards for steady source of food.

Big picture. 1800 resources which have to be slowly accumulated A SECOND TIME !!! And NOT stored to go Imperial meanwhile playing defensively/poking enough to keep the enemy from sniffing out your transitional weak point, needs to be worth it!!

I define worth it as:
1.potential economic advantages (plus 2 IO, auto tax, enhanced pagodas, enhanced granaries ).
2. Potential military qualitative advantages (cheaper NOBs, beefier MAA, superior raiders, and higher mobility 15% movement speed)
3. Element of surprise!! The one thing china has that no other civ has is, dynasties being unlocked arent telegraphed!!! So unless enemy scouts both landmark or sees a dynasty building/unit, they won’t know what china has coming.

One more…huge change…
The Imperial Palace is now also a Towncenter !!! Now we’ll have an incentive to build Imperial Palace over Clocktower. This idea would open up so many different strats, from a direct copy of English fast castle and double TC lancer harrass boom. Or a fast castle defensive boom into fast yuan dynasty.


I can’t agree with you more. This is an orgy of nerfs

Even with that range, a group of grenadiers now hardly kills anything. DPS is double nerfed, range is double nerfed, cost is nerfed too with the spirit way’s change. If nerfing this much, why does the price not reflect this? Being a costly to unlock, overpriced and underpowered unit, grenadiers are half a step away from joining FL in the ranks of uselessness.

Relic’s decision of nerfing a unit from top tier to useless, is extreme and bizarre (same thing happens to sieges). This patch is giving the Chinese being a siege and gunpowder civ, not 1 nerf, 2 nerfs, but multiple extreme nerfs.

You will lose players with this strategy, Relic.


Thats essentially what relic wants so they can later on give them meaningless buff like FL speed buff. While its great that they understand that FL needs to be faster unit but its not enough to make them relevant for raiding. I tested in one game I went for horsemen and did raiding and killed villagers when game was in deadlock situation. Went for yuan as lols and FL they did absolutely jackshit. Only thing they were good was burning 3 markets out of 7 and I kept doing them which lead for nothing other than almost losing the game cuz they were waste of pop. Switched to lancers / Grenadiers and was able to break deadlock easily and lancers killed more villagers than FL and horsemen combined.

Relic even admitted that they nerf chinese bombards so they can buff them some other way like giving them bit of more attack speed which is useless when they drop dead before they can fire 2nd round


I’m only going to say 4 things:

  • The Chinese bombard must not counter Springalds or culverins (Pyrotechnics for the bombard NO).

  • Some Chinese Landmarks (although by design they should be a bit weaker due to the dynasty) are very very weak.

  • If they have gone too far with the Chinese Grenadier, I would at least lower its price and increase its range by 1 square (if they don’t want to raise the other stats).

  • I hope they don’t go overboard buffing the Fire Lancer, it would be unpleasant.

Many units are being “reworked”, “repurposed”, because the balance team has no idea what roles those units should fill. We can clearly see that because rather than fine tuning the stats for the sake of balance, they went for radical bungee jumps instead.

The design team and balance team must be 2 completely different teams for this to happen. The design team must have moved on or left the project after release, leaving the balance team with little to no idea what to do next!

Trimming down uniqueness = gradually turning all games into mirror match ups, which is a cheap way to balance the game. Whether you like it or not, all the civs will slowly become alienated from original designs which we felt in love for.


It’s ok the Chinese bombard should not counter springalds, but let’s buff its anti siege power somewhere else instead of eradicating 1 of their anti siege options?
Everyone knows the Bombard represents 50% strength of the Chinese late game, it’s the MVP despite being generic unit. Now, let’s nerf their HP, healing rate, base damage, range (2x nerfs) while letting them take charge damage. Meanwhile, cost is the same at 1K resources, and a small increase from 25-> 33% which was nothing new but a reverted decision. Cool, top tier to trash here we go!

With this also comes a question, what are the options Chinese players have to counter Tower Elephants from now on?


To be Fair the nerf to siege impact all civs; YES china gets impacted the most! But like someone already said the chinese bombard, esp the clock tower bombard was NOT balanced! Also Tower Elephants are a problem for every faction. Next, most civs only have access to springalds and now melee units to counter siege (french*, abbasid, HRE are the only culvs civs).

IMO our plight for Meta china is that disgusting win rate between 10-30min games! Which is where the vast number of Chinese games (65%) are decided. only 29% of games end up inside the positive win rate window of china’s late game. Personally it’s because Song Dynasty, esp 2 TC song Dynasty is TOO EXPENSIVE and takes tooooo long to pay off.

I believe allowing IO’s to be built from the IA WILL have a positive impact on meta play, but only time will tell how so if at all?

So you’re telling china that is supposed to be gunpowder civ have no imperial age anti siege weaponry? This is what bombards where. So where does it leave bombards without range? Not usable its simple as that. Now every civ HARD counters everything china can do at imperial age.

You do understand that every other civ gets 3x bonuses when they age up meanwhile china gets 1 and pays double the price? How is that balanced?

Anyone with right mind knows the unit is dead. Dead and buried in next patch.

And it would unpleasant to play civ that is inferior to other civs in every way which they be in next patch. What china gets in return? Basically nothing compared to what they lose. IA change is nice but pushes china to always start with imperial academy because how important the 3-6 workers are early on and if china wants some protection they’re pushed to go for song even if its not their plan. Granary price reduction is nice too but again building is niche to use and takes 3 slots from farms and takes a lot of farms to compensate that loss of 3 farms.