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:
- To improve China in castle age in a similar way that the Academy buff improved Chinese feudal
- 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
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:
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.