From the get go, many of us cavalry lovers have noticed the very niche role of cavalry play. The game mechanics are such that cavalry units lose an inane number of men when disengaging from the fight. Also, many of us have noticed some cavalry imbalance. This post will not be a rage against both issues; it will be a form of simple solutions CA can take to rectify the situation in next week’s patch.
It seems that the current mechanic makes the cavalry completely unable to defend itself while on the move. This rectifies the abhorrent “pull through” exploit of Shogun II. It also has the side effect of making cavalry one hit wonders — charge in, and hope to God the unit routs, or else your cavalry is dead. I have lost more than half a unit of cavalry charging in, doing good damage, and trying to withdraw. This seems to be because the mechanics are such that cavalry lose all melee defense when on the move. I would suggest, instead, that cavalry melee defense remains constant through out, and that melee attack and not defense is reduced to zero. Thus, when pulling through, you cavalry will receive damage as normal and yet fail to inflict any damage of their own. At the same time, the cost of withdrawing from combat with cavalry will be significantly reduced, allowing cavalry to repeatedly charge and be used by good players well.
Please view the above video by Indy Pride and Madness, then read the following comments. Parthian Royal Cataphracts are the costliest cavalry unit in the game (and possibly the costliest, period), and yet they are defeated in single combat by Noble Riders (and it’s a toss up with Praetorian Cavalry). This, obviously, needs to be rectified, lest Parthia lose any competitive value for any nation. Parthia relies on its Cataphracts. If, when seeing a player take Parthia, his opponent can simply switch to a barbarian nation and takes cheaper and better horse units, Parthia’s competitive value is significantly diminished. Thus, I suggest the following changes to Parthia’s Royal Cataphracts:
Increase armour to 100, increase melee defense to 25, or;
Increase charge to 75 and melee defense to 50, or;
Increase charge to 100 and melee defense to 25, or;
Increase armour to 100 and charge to 75
It would be worth testing each of these. If I knew the first thing about modding and were confident enough to do it with this game, I would do it myself.
Horse Missile Units
CA was rightly afraid of making mounted missile units overly powerful. They mitigated their power, however, by keeping their numbers low (60 instead of the 90 of regular missile units) and reducing their ammunition (15 instead of 25 for archers, less for peltests). While the first was a very good decision by the developers, the second limits horse archers to a point where taking them is completely ineffective. This is because, even if they don’t lose a single man during engagement, they expend all their arrows without killing enough men to allow the cataphracts to deliver their menacing charges. This means that, even if you play the game flawlessly, it is incredibly difficult to win with a horse archer/cataphract army that is historically representative of Parthia. I know, because I have tried. Having reduced my opponent to a giant Macedonian noob box, he withstood all my ammunition while he simply sat their. At the end, I rather waited for the timer to run out than attack his foot companion phalanx head on. This is, of course, not working as intended, and I suggest an increase in ammunition as a potential fix.