(1-WD) Skirmisher Rework (double attack version)

Status
Not open for further replies.

azum4roll

Deity
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
2,075
Counterproposal to https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/proposal-skirmisher-1-cs-12-11-cs.678965/

Foreword

Most people are dissatisfied with the current skirmisher line, specifically the promotion that gives them +CS in open terrain and -CS in rough. I know there was a "skirmishers count double for flanking" idea that passed in an old poll, but I've never submitted a formal proposal for my idea (which I've been using ever since the skirmisher line was changed). With a proper VP Congress, it's now time for me to spend a few hours to write this up once and for all.

You can experience this in full by downloading my mod and removing all sql files other than SkirmisherChanges.sql



Some History

Before the current version of skirmishers, they all had 4 moves and 1 attack, lower CS and slightly lower RCS than a same tier archer, and no combat modifier in any terrain. Chariot archers ended their turn when entering "rough" terrain, which was defined as forests, jungles and hills like vanilla. They functioned as an alternative ranged unit that trades bulk and strength for mobility.

They worked well and were quite balanced until people found a way to attack with them that's hard to be retaliated: with 4 moves, skirmishers could enter a rough terrain with 2 moves, attack with 1 move, then move back to the original (safe) position with the last move. Non-mounted melee and ranged units without Indirect Fire could not hit back due to the rough terrain blocking sight, and pre-Arsenal cities built on flat land were sitting ducks. Note that this was before garrisons made cities hyper tanky, so skirmishers were an unintended strategy to take down poorly-settled cities in less than 10 turns.

G, seeing rants on the forum, implemented the current Skirmisher Doctrine promotion to remove their effectiveness of shooting from rough terrain. Both @pineappledan and I came up with alternative ideas and put them into our respective modmods since then.



General Idea

My main gripe about Skirmisher Doctrine is that it affects both offense and defense stats when the problem was only about attacking; the entire unit line is useless in 3/4 of the map (assuming 50% water); and the AI can't handle terrain-based promotions well. I managed to come up with this idea that the AI definitely should know: 2 attacks per turn, essentially making the hit-and-run from rough terrain dealing only half damage. You would also have the choice of having the skirmisher stay in to do the full damage, but that would sacrifice the unit most of the time.

I used the damage formula to deduce that the old skirmisher was dealing ~40 damage to same tier melee unit. I originally made mine do ~20 damage, but settled for ~17.5 instead to compensate for the "option" of doing half damage to two different targets. They're taking ~45 damage from same tier melee (without flanking).

And then there's the XP problem. If you attack twice in one turn, you get double the XP... which is part of the reason why Logistics is OP. At first I reduce all skirmisher XP gains by 50%, but that doesn't do well with other sources that increase XP gain like Elite Forces and Oil Strategic Monopoly due to the additive nature. Lucky we have the option of removing XP gain after first attack now, so I went for that.

Lastly Light Tank and Helicopter Gunship gain Armor Plating to be more in line with the free combat promotions that everything gets in late game. This will help their survival against planes (not fighters in Helicopter Gunship's case) and Battleships.



Actual Stats

Well, we need to be specific :)

Skirmisher Doctrine (free promotion on all skirmisher line units):
+50% :c5strength: Combat Strength when defending against all Ranged Attacks.
May attack twice.

Beam Axle (free promotion on Chariot Archer and replacements):
Forest, Jungle, Marsh and Hills costs an additional movement point to cross.


Mongolia UA changed to
Mounted Ranged Units gain +1 :c5moves: Movement and +20% :c5rangedstrength: Ranged Combat Strength when attacking. +100% Tribute Yields from :c5citystate: City-State bullying.

Armor Plating I given for free to Light Tank and Helicopter Gunship.

Logistics promotion made unavailable to ranged units with range 1.

Both Accuracy III and Barrage III lead to Parthian Tactics for mounted ranged units.

Only the first attack of each turn gives XP.

1664013525500.png




Skirmisher's role

You may argue that skirmishers, old or current or proposed version, don't have a clear role since they overlap too much with mounted melee/non-mounted ranged.

I'd say they have a unique use that other unit classes can't replicate, and yet you can't replace them with skirmishers either.

Mounted melee is in a bad spot right now, and this proposal won't solve the problem, but the one thing they're better at is to snipe out of position ranged units, especially siege. Mounted ranged can't do that since ranged units are pretty resistant to their attacks. Also, mounted ranged really doesn't appreciate being hit by ranged attacks, so they want to stay out of enemy ranged units.

Spoiler Example with Knight + Heavy Skirmisher :

Easy win for the knight.
1664083957223.png



Ranged and mounted ranged differ from having different range. Archers are limited by vision (unless Indirect Fire), and skirmishers have to shuffle and break formation to attack, making some units unable to attack for the turn. Skirmishers also don't function very well in hilly deserts.
Spoiler Example with Composite Bowman + Skirmisher :

A typical chokepoint/kill zone. A skirmisher would do higher damage to the swordsman than a composite bowman (one tech tier higher) if it can shoot twice. In this case, it may seem better to replace the composite bowmen with more skirmishers...
1664039019507.png


However, if you can kill the unit on the hills tile with the composite bowmen only, you're rewarded with one extra attack per front row skirmisher on the unit on the plains by the river. Note that this can't be done by pure skirmishers since you lose move points by shuffling units.


Moderator Action: Edited thread title to conform to VP Congress rules, added link to first proposal at the start of the post. - Recursive
 
Last edited by a moderator:

azum4roll

Deity
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
2,075
I sponsor this change, as well as all future CS/RCS changes when any melee unit has its CS changed to lock damage dealt/damage taken to 17.5/45.
 

Delvemor

Warlord
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
236
Ever since I tried this change for skirmisher I still prefer it over anything else. Mounted melee units still have their niche and are still relevant.
 

Tekamthi

King
Joined
Aug 12, 2016
Messages
698
Before the current version of skirmishers, they all had 4 moves and 1 attack, lower CS and slightly lower RCS than a same tier archer, and no combat modifier in any terrain. Chariot archers ended their turn when entering "rough" terrain, which was defined as forests, jungles and hills like vanilla. They functioned as an alternative ranged unit that trades bulk and strength for mobility.

They worked well and were quite balanced until people found a way to attack with them that's hard to be retaliated: with 4 moves, skirmishers could enter a rough terrain with 2 moves, attack with 1 move, then move back to the original (safe) position with the last move. Non-mounted melee and ranged units without Indirect Fire could not hit back due to the rough terrain blocking sight, and pre-Arsenal cities built on flat land were sitting ducks.
Could just go back to this and make it cost one extra move for skirmisher to go through rough. ie 3 moves into rough terrain, one to attack and then done, no retreat to safety behind the rough terrain
 

Zanteogo

King
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Messages
949
Right now ranged mounted units make up 40% of my army. They are crazy good once you get into the groove on how to use them.
They are the best defensive unit in the game, with your roads and some smart play you can have your entire defensive mounted ranged units attack in a single turn.

They need their attack power cut, so they are more harasser units than killing units.
 

nekokon

Prince
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Messages
396
Not a fan of the current heavy skirmisher being tankier than horseman and this feels like the best proposal among all current solutions.
 

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
9,329
but the one thing they're better at is to snipe out of position ranged units, especially siege
I would argue that this a classic role of the mounted melee.

My issue with the logistics approach, which I tried with the logistics skirmisher modmod some time ago, is I feel the unit becomes too all or nothing. Either the unit is strong enough and just becomes dominant, or a bit too weak and then it serves no purpose. With the current skirmisher doctrine approach, as annoying as it is in many ways, it DOES provide a unique role for the unit. In open terrain, its a great unit, in rough....its garbage. And so...you have to have a well-rounded army to account for terrain.

Ultimately, I don't feel like the logistics approach gives the skirmisher any real uniqueness, its just damage at the end of the day, and either the damage is superior or inferior to other options.
 

azum4roll

Deity
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
2,075
I would argue that this a classic role of the mounted melee.

My issue with the logistics approach, which I tried with the logistics skirmisher modmod some time ago, is I feel the unit becomes too all or nothing. Either the unit is strong enough and just becomes dominant, or a bit too weak and then it serves no purpose. With the current skirmisher doctrine approach, as annoying as it is in many ways, it DOES provide a unique role for the unit. In open terrain, its a great unit, in rough....its garbage. And so...you have to have a well-rounded army to account for terrain.

Ultimately, I don't feel like the logistics approach gives the skirmisher any real uniqueness, its just damage at the end of the day, and either the damage is superior or inferior to other options.
It's a unique ranged line that's stronger against melee than ranged, if you factor in how it attacks and its movement. At the end most military units are be "just damage". It doesn't stop any of them from being unique.
 

ma_kuh

Warlord
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
214
I've been doing a lot of thinking about combat counters recently, and I came to a similar conclusion: knights should be anti-ranged tech, and skirmishers should be anti-melee. They already are for the most part with their speed, which becomes hampered when they enter hills. I would actually propose giving them Withdraw Before Melee and -1 movement, but we already have 4 proposals for skirmisher reworks, and I don't think adding to the fire is the right call at this point.
 

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
9,329
At the end most military units are be "just damage". It doesn't stop any of them from being unique.
Its how they apply that damage that is important though. If we look back at the OG Civ 5, we had these lines:

Melee - Tanks/Anti-Ranged: They exist to soak punishment and take out ranged units that get too close.
Mounted Melee - Useful whenever you need more speed (scouting, repositioning due to a new enemy attack, pulling in for flanking, etc). They are also good anti-siege units.
Siege - Anti-city.
Ranged - Main damage, ability to damage without taking damage gives them a unique and powerful ability to deal damage.

All of the niches were pretty clear and all had uses. Certain roles had balance issues that made them not as useful as they could be, but the roles themselves were pretty clear.

The problem is, the skirmisher doesn't really add anything new to that. I already have speed, I already have ranged damage....what is the point of this unit? Either its better than mounted melee and I'll just make skirmishers, or its weaker and I'll just make mounted melee. I don't see why I would really split my horses between the two.
 

ma_kuh

Warlord
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
214
Without skirmishers, the roles you lay out are solid, but inflexible. It's a good design for a standard army composition, and I don't think that needs to change, but what makes the skirmisher design valuable in my mind is that it opens up different army builds.

An alternative army could use mounted melee's mobility to either defend farther-reaching territories with fewer units, or to initiate wider flanks to pull apart an enemy. This composition would not be able to engage foot melee without retreating often. The skirmisher enables this composition to function by providing ranged damage that does not need protection, and that can keep up with the mounted melee.

This is why I'm more in favor of further differentiating mounted melee and skirmisher's "preferred targets": making skirmishers weaker to use around archers (Withdraw Before Melee wouldn't trigger, letting them get focused if extended); and keeping mounted melee checked by spears.
 

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
9,329
The skirmisher enables this composition to function by providing ranged damage that does not need protection, and that can keep up with the mounted melee.
Than what is the point of mounted melee? If the skirmisher does good damage, takes none in return, has all the speed benefits of mounted melee AND can retreat more easily....why would I ever build mounted melee?
 

ma_kuh

Warlord
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
214
Because it doesn't actually retreat well against ranged*, or its damage is tuned so that it loses these trades. I think design-wise, this is the preferred direction, but you're absolutely right that current iterations do not have the balance correct.

And I'd argue that mounted melee could be made better against mounted in general, so that they can serve as a counter-counter against skirmishers too. I think they can get formation already, so that safety valve may already exist.

Edit: it does right now, but that's the problem in need of a solution, not the damage
 

ma_kuh

Warlord
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
214
I know you've openly asked what the point of skirmishers is, is there some combat consideration you feel they should be pointed towards?
 

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
9,329
I know you've openly asked what the point of skirmishers is, is there some combat consideration you feel they should be pointed towards?
The idea that spawned after a long discord conversation was the notion of a true "support" skirmisher.

The idea was that skirmishers would provide a double flanking bonus, have 5 speed, but a low attack. They are very fast, but can't do much on their own. However, they greatly increase the power of other melee units. So now you have a niche, you always want a few skirmishers to beef up your forces but building a lot of them is pointless because of their low attack. This ensures a proper place for the unit. The main issue with this idea was finding someone to code it.
 

ma_kuh

Warlord
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
214
I remember seeing that proposal go through while I was lurking the forum. Some of the other ideas were having them apply malus effects (a la Daze) right? It definitely adds a niche for them.

Makes me wonder how many of the discussions on unit roles would be better served by enacting them through promotion lines, but that's a different conversation.
 

nekokon

Prince
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Messages
396
To be honest, adding skirmisher line was kind of a bad design imho. All of their niches are already covered by other lines (even support, as you have scout who would make more sense to be THE support), and AI isn't actually that good at dealing with hit and run tactic (the reason why we had a lot of back and forth changes in naval, with ranged ship dominate the field with hit and run out of sight) for us to have a whole new line of hit and run focused units.
Too bad too much work already went into building up this line, so we have to try to balance what we currently have.
 
Last edited:

Zanteogo

King
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Messages
949
To be honest, adding skirmisher line was kind of a bad design imho. All of their niches are already covered by other lines (even support, as you have scout who would make more sense to be THE support), and AI isn't actually that good at dealing with hit and run tactic (the reason why we had a lot of back and forth changes in naval, with ranged ship dominate the field with hit and run out of sight) for us to have a whole new line of hit and run focused units.
Too bad too much work already went into building up this line, so we have to try to balance what we currently have.
I agree. They have replaced range and mounted melee units because they usually do the job overall better in most situations.
 

ma_kuh

Warlord
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
214
I definitely haven't felt like they replace archers in my games, but I know many people have anecdotes one way or the other on these things. What I try to keep in mind when evaluating skirmishers vs. archers is that skirmishers cost more than archers, both in production and in resource. They should win in equal numbers. Knights are another popular power spike, and win hard against many of their contemporaries for the same reasons.

I'm pretty sure skirmishers also aren't out-dueling knights either, but I find a flaw in the mounted melee line is that they just have so fewer tiers than e.g. skirmishers. It's hard to have a "fair" fight between the two, and if they're one of the few counters it'd be no wonder skirmishers feel so uncounterable.
 

azum4roll

Deity
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
2,075
As I pointed out in the OP, 1-2 mounted melee can destroy lone ranged units but skirmishers cannot without a horde of them. Skirmishers can never replace archers since the former have to move to attack and thus are not suitable to be used in the frontlines where your melee fortify. They're strong in the right situation and position, which is not just determined by terrain as it is right now.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom