What China needs next
Hello all! It’s u60cf28, your resident China main. Been a while since I did one of these posts, but here we go.
As a China main, I was (as expected) not pleased with the most recent nerfs, but I do understand why. China is undeniably strong (but I would argue not overpowered). Still, I believe that the Song Dynasty nerf is only part of what the devs need to do concerning China. The reason why is that, based on aoe4world.com statistics, China before the nerf was only the fourth best civ by winrate in Diamond+, and third best by winrate in Conqueror+ (with 50.8% and 52.2% winrates in Diamond+ and Conq+ respectively). Rather, China only appears to be really strong/overpowered at the professional level, on tournament maps that are different from the ladder map pool (though, I would note this is primarily based off the opinions of pro players, since we don’t have any recent high level 1v1 tournaments to collect data from).
So what does this mean? It means that China is balanced when in the hands of your average player, but strong/overpowered at the pro level. This is because China is one of the harder civs to play. It has a high skill floor and a high skill ceiling. Here, I propose changes to lower the skill floor while ensuring that China does not remain overpowered in professional play, and improving quality-of-life for China players.
Proposed Chinese Balance Changes:
When constructing a landmark to enter a dynasty, the cost of that landmark is reduced by 25%
This is the primary buff to China I propose, with compensatory nerfs to the dynasties to follow. It addresses the main reason why China can be so tough to play - you have to invest a lot of resources to unlock your (admittedly very strong) civ benefits. In many games, Yuan and Ming Dynasties are never reached because of the exorbitant cost. This change, which I have been asking for since game release, makes dynasties much more accessible; entering dynasties and building all the landmarks should be of the key features of China, and this encourages that.
Song Dynasty villager production bonus (further) reduced from +33% to +25%
This nerf will prevent the cheaper cost of Song Dynasty from allowing China players to run away with the game with pure macro. If I did my math correctly, it should mean that Chinese villagers would take 16 seconds to train, compared to the 13 seconds train time originally, and the 15 seconds it is now. It will guarantee that Chinese players will have to maintain the same TC count as their opponents if they want to have an economic advantage
Yuan Dynasty movement speed boost decreased from +15% to +10%
Yuan Dynasty is very, very strong if you can reach it. The speed bonus provides not only a more mobile army, but also an economic boost as it affects villagers and traders. If Yuan is now easier to reach, it has to be nerfed so Palace Guard and Fire Lancers don’t overwhelm the opponent. Incidentally, this also will make Yuan Fire Lancers a lot less frustrating to deal with, as they once more will be slower than Horsemen, hopefully making defending a landmark snipe much easier
Ming Dynasty +10% health bonus now applies to all units (including villagers and traders), not just military units
Unlike Song and Yuan, Ming does not need a nerf. The Ming bonus is very underwhelming when compared to the Yuan bonus, so this very minor buff just makes it feel a bit better.
Dynasty passive bonuses now persist as long as both of that dynasty’s landmarks are alive. A landmark being destroyed will deactivate the corresponding dynasty passive bonus, until that landmark is fully repaired.
This is both a buff and a nerf. On the one hand, it means that you keep the dynasty passive bonus even after you leave that dynasty and enter a new one. This is another thing I have been asking for since game release, as currently I rarely want to go Ming after Yuan since, as I explained above, Yuan’s passive is so much better than Ming’s. The fact that the Song and Yuan bonuses have been nerfed also makes this buff much safer to do. At the same time, this makes Chinese dynasties much more interactable by the opponent, which should improve the back-and-forth of gameplay. It also heavily nerfs Barbican rushing, as putting your Barbican in an exposed forward location will now pose the risk of losing the Song villager bonus.
Optional: Pyrotechnics now affects both Handcannoners and Grenadiers
This is a buff separate from the rest of the balance changes, that is meant to address the fact that Grenadiers have almost completely vanished from the ladder and competitive play after their nerfs. They got nerfed in terms of damage, AOE, range, and anti-siege damage. While the nerfs to damage and AOE are fine and fair, the range nerf really killed grenadiers. Current 3 range grenadiers just feel like slow pseudo-melee units, and they basically are only effective vs mass melee infantry. This buff would increase grenadier range to 4.5, which is still less than their pre-nerf range of 4.8. Most importantly, it would make grenadiers once more feel good to use, while not letting them become as strong as before.
I want to note here that none of the numbers are final. Perhaps the discount only needs to be 20%, instead of 25%. But I do think the ideas presented here are good and make sense, and hey, maybe the devs will see this post and take it into account.