I generally agree with nerf proposals to top civs in here, however, Franks is the 1 civ of the “top tier” ones that I consider as belonging to a slightly different group. Let’s call them “A- tier”.
In my view, the Berry bonus is something that kicks in mostly in Feudal, you can use it to get a 19 pop Scout rush, but other civs like Lithuanians or Mongols can do that too and they aren’t considered OP. So clearly, it’s not just the Berry bonus that is at work here.
As for the free Farms, sure, free Horse Collar is nice to have, and I won’t deny it saves you quite a bit of wood. Other civs, like Burmese, have a similar bonus here also.
Then, there is the extra HP. Now, since you don’t have to get Bloodlines, you technically save 150f 100g. However, at high level nobody commits to mass Knights in early Castle Age just like that, because the risk is running into endless walls, Monks, and Arbalest and not having a competitive Imperial Age time. What I’m trying to say is that in Castle Age (especially early Castle age), Knights are used sparingly, mostly as a unit of 1 to try and find little damage here and there, especially if you go vs a civ that has access to Arbalest.
Thus, I think this bonus of extra HP on cavalry is relevant mostly in FEUDAL age. So you get 54 HP Scouts, who can take spear hits better and fight Villagers better. That’s sweet, but Scouts are easy-ish to wall, and even here, I don’t see the advantage that more HP Scouts have as decisive. It is very rare for me to see situations where Frankish Scout rush would find damage where something like Mongol or Khmer Scout rush wouldn’t have found any. Scouts are generally about micro and finding small bits of damage here and there, if opponent slips, generally they die vs any type of Scout.
Anyway, all of these bonuses are nice little things. The main powerspike I see that one could argue makes Franks OP is the combined Berry bonus and savings on farm tech. In theory, the meta is to get Double Bit Axe right away, and Horse Collar as you age up. However, most players actually get Horse Collar in Feudal, call it a bit of extra greed. Here, it turns out, the 75f extra you pay slows your Castle age timing by about 0:30-1:00 overall. This is a semi big deal and it’s hard to resist clicking Horse Collar and have the maturity to realize aging up faster could be crucial.
Anyway, that and faster Berries allows Franks to generally outpace the opponent to Castle age by about 1-1:30 min (all other things equal). This is what I consider their main power spike. However, you also know that it will ALWAYS be Knights + Skirms or + Scorpions and Mangonels. The units they make for their 1-TC play are very predictable, this isn’t something like Chinese that in Castle age could come at you with literally anything.
So after this long essay, my question is: are Franks, by virtue of their early Castle age power spike, in the same boat as Chinese, Mayans, Burgundians?
(just for reference,
Chinese save hundreds of resources on techs AND their permanent extra 2 vills can generate up to 1000 additional resources over a 20-min period.
Mayans Crossbows are so cheap, you can throw them away, and you cannot really go Skirms/Siege like you would vs most other Archer civs because there is always the threat of the Eagle switch. They get more food from farms, hunt, etc. their gold spots last forever and they have a SICK Imperial age composition
Burgundians, if you count how much additional wood you generate from the early techs (especially from early Bow Saw, it’s like 300+ free wood that allows you to have a very smooth Castle age, not to mention the food you spare on Wheelbarrow, farm upgrades etc., and their sick late game. Burgundians are a civ that is strong at any stage: strong in Feudal, strong in Castle age due to Cavalier, strong in Imp due to Flemish, Handcannons, Bombard Cannons, early Paladins… you name it).
In my view, Franks do not belong in the same tier as these civ. I also personally find beating Franks also far easier than beating Burgundians or Mayans.
I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on this matter.
(I should mention that I don’t care to know if Franks are OP in TGs because TGs are not balanced anyway and all about spamming the most pop-efficient gold unit combination and play with a very small subset of the actual units which I find uninteresting).