Armored Unit Balance Discussion Thread Took me a while to get this together as the issue turned out to be much more complex than I originally thought. There was a lot of testing to be done; I collected several hundred data points, did some analysis and thought about possible improvements. This thread is mostly for discussion on the balance of the Landship/Tank/Modern Armor, especially in comparison to the Rifleman/Infantry/Mechanized Infantry units (the two late game land melee lines); I'm less interested in the Giant Death Robot as he comes very late and is a bit of a gimmick anyway (I'll make a short comment on him regardless but he is not the focus of this discussion). When talking about Gunpowder Units I will usually mean Rifleman/Infantry/Mechanized Infantry (even though technically the Fusilier, Anti-Aircraft Gun and Mobile SAM are also considered to be Gunpowder Units by the game). This thread should focus primarily on balance in the scope of this game, but let's not forget that armored units played pivotal roles in both World Wars and are still very important today: Germany is more than doubling it's Leopard 2 (main battle tank) assets, Russia is modernizing large swaths of their T-72s, T-80s and T-90s in addition to introducing the new T-14 and so on; just because countries like the US focus less on tanks now because of their doctrine (waging war far from home, which means prioritizing a powerful navy and air force) doesn't mean these machines have become irrelevant. Resources Spoiler Late Game Tech Tree for reference : Spoiler Promotion Tree Armored Units : Note: the Mounted Unit Promotion Tree additionally includes the Medic I & II promotions on the second level of the Shock line. Spoiler Promotion Tree Gunpowder Units : Background Late game balance is always tricky as testing by the community is limited (games may end before it arises, many people don't play games fully etc.), civilizations will be fairly differentiated (large gaps in power and Era progression are possible and even likely), all game systems are active (including all unit types), units will be strongly promoted (increases unit differentiation) and so on. The creation of this thread was triggered by a discussion of buffing the "Formation" promotions in the promotion balance thread; I noticed that buffing "Formation", since it includes an anti-armored bonus, would mean yet another buff to infantry with respect to armor in late game, especially if Formation would be given to all Spearman-line units instead of the anti-mounted bonus (as pineappledan suggested). This made me worry about the viability of Armored Units in general, especially in comparison to Gunpowder Units, since several of the latter have received significant buffs this year. Let's take a look at the benefits Gunpowder Units currently have over Armored Units: Receive defensive terrain bonuses (up to +25% CS when attacked) Can fortify (+20% CS when attacked) Have significantly higher Air Strike Defense (deal more damage to attacking aircraft) Cost significantly less Gold/Production Don't require Strategic Resources Don't have City attack malus and can choose special anti-city promotions Have anti-armored promotions available (Formation and later Ambush) Can specialize even more (more overall promotions available in addition to the ones mentioned) With the exception of Special Forces, don't have any units that are specialized against them Come earlier in the Tech Tree in the case of Mechanized Infantry vs. Modern Armor Automatically receive special promotions that significantly increase HP and ranged defense (added in July '19) (Have received CS buffs earlier this year in another July update) In contrast, Armored Units haven't been given any buffs AFAICT in the last two years, at least; rather, they have become less and less competitive and their entry onto the battlefield has been further delayed by separating the discovery of Oil from the ability to use it (Oil Well is on the other side of the Tech Tree and there is a "stop gap" before those techs, requiring the entire line of preceding techs to be researched to get to both so one can start building Oil Wells to connect it, which will often need to be done before building the first Landships). This adds to their disadvantages, since it is now much harder to rush Landship to at least have some fun steamrolling previous-era units and it effectively means that the Landship also "comes later" with respect to the Rifleman, as is already the case with Modern Armor vs. Mechanized Infantry. In "late late game" literally all land ranged units receive huge anti-armored bonuses and the Mechanized Infantry receives a 50% movement point buff (+1), such that the Tank and Modern Armor are now less than twice as agile and the latter is becoming so impotent that it raises the question whether it's worth building those units at all anymore at that point. What do Armored Units have to show for it? Let's see: More movement points (4 vs 2 in Modern, 5 vs 2 in Atomic, 5 vs 3 in Information; GDR has 8) More CS (55 vs 50 in Modern, 70 vs 60 in Atomic, 85 vs 75 in Information; GDR has 100) Charge promotions (CS bonus on attack in open terrain and against wounded units) Charge are nice promotions for sure, but let's first look at mobility and combat strength. Mobility is certainly useful, but with Skirmisher line units gaining a movement point again Armored Units are once again being nerfed in comparison. A Light Tank can shoot at a Landship and simply scoot off without that Landship being able to catch him the next turn (4 vs 5 MP); same with the Helicopter (5 vs 6), which is far more powerful anyway, due to its hovering ability and anti-tank bonus (and also special anti-tank promotions that add to it). Moreover, with the arrival of aircraft, Railroads and greater range for siege units (Range 3 starting with Artillery) the movement point advantage becomes further compromised; hit-and-run tactics are much harder to do in enemy territory because of these factors than they are with e.g. Horsemen or Knights etc. in early and mid game. As for the greater CS, well let's see what that's actually worth in comparison to melee infantry when considering the huge amount of buffs that melee infantry gets: Combat Strength Analysis The following charts all show a "normalized damage differential". This value is basically the damage done to the attacker subtracted from the damage done to the defender, but expressed as percentages of HP, rather than absolute HP; this way the HP buffs of infantry units are taken into account and the different unit types can thus be properly compared. I tried to standardize data collection as much as possible and gave all involved units level 5 (so typically one advanced promotion; important promos are listed in the legend to the right of charts). Every bar represents a combat simulation given by the game; I tried to eliminate possible confounds wherever they occurred; for example, I made sure that units which could receive defensive terrain bonuses weren't placed on Hill or Forest/Jungle, but in exchange melee infantry was allowed to fortify (with the exception of wounded units and some units on the last charts, were fortification is designated on the chart's legend to demonstrate its effect); River penalties were avoided and Flanking bonuses were controlled. To the right of each chart / collection of charts you will see the legend for the different combat simulations, which are referenced by the numbers on the X-axis. All Logistics units are simulated to fire twice, but without taking into account potentially higher damage on the second shot; ranged units obviously don't receive damage when attacking. Promotion names in the legend always refer to promotions of the attacker; same goes for "Flanking bonus", typically the unit will then have Shock as well to boost that bonus. "Wounded" refers to the defender, however. In the first chart you see Tank and Infantry (both Atomic Era) attacked by various units; the LOWER the bar the BETTER for the defender (Tank or Infantry); negative bars mean the attacker takes more % HP damage than the defender. Spoiler Attack on Tank or Infantry : As you can see, with the exceptions of a small advantage against Scouting line units and very few cases of parity, Infantry units fare MUCH better when attacked, compared to Tanks; the latter are obliterated by Rocket Artillery and Bazookas, especially, but also have severe issues against Helicopters and do noticeably worse when being bombed by air units or missiles, as well. In the second chart you see Modern Armor and Mechanized Infantry (both Information Era) attacked by various relevant units; the LOWER the bar the BETTER for the defender; negative bars mean the attacker takes more % HP damage than the defender. Spoiler Attack on Modern Armor or Mechanized Infantry : Demonstration of what it means when half the units on the battlefield are specialized against one unit type. Modern Armor gets obliterated by Rocket Artillery, Bazookas and Helicopters, faring not much better than its predecessor and has significant disadvantages against SAM units compared to Mech. Inf. (M. SAM can even specialize against them, as shown). Special Forces get a bonus against Gun Units, but still Mech. Infantry holds their own compared to Modern Armor. In the next chart collection you'll see three land melee pairs (infantry / armored), one for each of the last three Eras, attack various units; the HIGHER the bar the BETTER for the attacking melee units. Spoiler Melee attack pairs : As you can see, while armor does finally have some consistent advantage in the Modern and Atomic Eras, that advantage is rather small in comparison and is completely annulled in the Information Era, where the Mechanized Infantry absolutely dominates in comparison to the Modern Armor; not a huge surprise, of course, since all three of the right side opponents have massive anti-tank bonuses, but Armored Units don't even get an advantage against Mobile SAM. In this last chart collection you'll see two charts that portray fights between the two melee lines themselves. In the left chart LOWER bars are BETTER for ARMORED UNITS, while in the right chart HIGHER bars are BETTER for ARMORED UNITS. Spoiler Melee vs. Melee : The broad pattern here clearly is that specialized attacks bear fruits (anti-armor promos for infantry and flanking / charge against wounded for armor), but this is, again, not true for the Information Era where the Modern Armor loses in any case as long as the target unit is fortified; even without fortification the Modern Armor doesn't win by much and, considering the excessive punishment it takes from almost all other units compared to simple infantry, which is also not that much slower than it at that point, one must ask the question of whether it is worth building them at all, considering also the much higher building cost and need for Strategic Resources. I think it's clear that despite Charge being a nice addition to that unit line and the line having more Combat Strength than comparable infantry, the results are underwhelming. If a default Formation promotion were now to be added to early game infantry (many of whom would survive through mid to late game), this would get even worse. Armored Units lack a clear specialization, they don't truly excel against any unit type compared to the performance of melee infantry, are worse at sieging, easier targets for air units and in the Information Era literally half the other land units are specialized against them and there are many more disadvantages that have been discussed above. Their move-after-attack capability is nice but significantly worse compared to the Skirmisher line, as they still lose all movement points when crossing a river for the attack or moving through ZOC while attacking and lose more than 1 MP if attacking into rough terrain. Ultimately they have simply become too weak in comparison, which, of course, also implicitly nerfs Germany (Tank replacement UU). In addition to these relatively simple simulations I also conducted a few dozen "free form" multi-turn battles between relevant units to get a better feel for the state of armor aside from the damage numbers. Overall I did manage to win some fights that one may not expect from the above numbers but often this was due to superior tactics on my part compared to the AI, which is also not really made for these kinds of "duels"; in the end, however, my impression in these fights was still very clear: infantry melee tends to have a better shot most of the time, especially if friendly lands are not available (tank has it easier to run away to the nearest friendly city). The additional movement points make it easier to set up flanking and concentrate the attack and would also provide more opportunity for pillaging in enemy lands, but aircraft, greater range siege units and massive anti-armor specializations resulting in high damage against tanks more than negate this advantage. Finally, here's an image to show the pitiful state of even the Giant Death Robot, which I didn't analyze in detail: Spoiler GDR vs. MI : Ideas for Improvements Broadly speaking I think there needs to be an adjustment made on two fronts: first, armor needs to be generally buffed to become more competitive again; second, armor needs a specialization, preferably one that partially negates the massive anti-tank specializations in the game. These two aspects could be combined by: Giving all Armored Units a +20% CS against Gunpowder Units (this would include AAG and SAM, if I'm not mistaken) To prevent AAG/SAM from guarding against that, the Ambush promotions should be removed from them (probably this means that infantry melee needs to be given those manually for each unit in the SQL) To prevent infantry melee from too easily guarding against that, as well, the anti-armor-bonus should be removed from the Formation promotions (they would then only give def. bonus on flat land and anti-mounted bonus). Infantry can still take Ambush promotions against Armored but now this is much more of an investment for them. As compensation Formation could be buffed in numbers (see promotion balance thread). Instead of +20% against Gun it could also be something like +15% against Gun and +10% against fortified units, for example, or even focusing more on an anti-fortified theme. Or there could be a special promotion line added to Armored Units just like there was to melee infantry, such as: Spoiler Armored Units special promo example : Landship: Mechanized Terror: +10% CS bonus against gun units Tank: Heavy Armor: +15% CS bonus against gun units and a flat damage reduction of 3 damage per attack from all sources M. Armor: Mobile Fortress: +20% CS bonus against gun units and a flat damage reduction of 5 damage per attack from all sources GDR: Meal of Metal: +25% CS on attack and heals fully on kill Comment: since GDR is gimmicky anyway, I thought this would be a fun way to spice him up, but this idea is only semi-serious This would give armor the specialization of taking out enemy anti-air units (they count as gun units in the game) and make them a more fearsome threat for enemy infantry, as they should be, while still remaining very vulnerable to all ranged units (the flat damage reduction from the special promos wouldn't change that by much). All of these values can be tweaked, of course; I tried not to overshoot with them, but it would simply need to be tested in a real late game war. Another thing that could be looked at (in place of the aforementioned changes or in combination with a weaker version of them) is: Making the anti-armor-bonus of the late game ranged units only count on attack, not defense. This could especially mitigate the massive dominance of Mechanized Infantry over Modern Armor in the Information Era since half the land units have anti-tank bonuses there. Finally, I think rushing Landships should become possible, which could be achieved by: Moving Oil to Industrialization Overall I don't think the entire late game needs to be rebalanced; the other units can stay as they are but Armor does deserve a nice, juicy buff IMO. So let me know what you think.