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Infantry Units

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by Stalker0, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I just finished up a game on the recent version, and got to play a lot of late era warring. So I got to see the Fusilier, Rifleman, Infantry buffs alongside ranged nerfs. The adjustments did make a difference, I could see my units taking a little less damage, and doing a little more. But overall....it didn't fundamentally change anything. Because fundamentally I think there is a problem with infantry type units right now (Tercio, Fusilier, Rifleman, Infantry).

    The way warfare works right now is that the AI positions a mass of units, and commonly a mass of ranged ones. While a melee unit can take a few hits from a ranged unit, almost inevitably, if the infantry unit pushes forward...he will be erased.

    The simple fact is this: Infantry units can almost never push into enemy AI territory, because they cannot stand up against the focused ranged damage of multiple units (cover I and II increase the ranged investment, but not the end result). So what normally happens is that you have a few infantry units hold the line, while the bulk of your army is ranged units doing damage, or horse units that can snipe a unit, but still can pull back, avoiding the mass ranged counterattack that the infantry unit would face. The human player does this again and again, until the AI forces are exhausted, and then finally can push some units forward without them being insta-killed.

    What is bad to me is that the unit that flavorwise should be most of your army...is actually your least. I build infantry far less than horse and ranged units, because their niche is very small....holding defensively key spots. And for this they do a good job. Put a Rifleman in a citadel, and he will take a lot of punishment. But I only have a few citadels and forts, and that's where my infantry go. Everything else...horses and ranged.

    Now I will admit this is completely a personal preference...I enjoy infantry units over ranged ones. I like getting down and dirty, pushing my forces in, mixing it up. I enjoy that a lot more than "sit back, fire ranged units, having more units come to me, fire ranged attacks". I just get way more satisfaction out of using infantry...but the simple truth is infantry is bad play at higher difficulties, massed ranged is just far far better.

    So if you agree that there is an issue here, in my next post I talk about solutions.
     
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  2. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    The problem with infantry is not their defense...per say. Infantry can take punishment. But they can't take enough to justify their common use. They don't last long enough compared to ranged, and they don't do enough damage while they are around to justify. So there are two ideas that can change that.

    1) Make Infantry units dominantly strong, aka take the recent buffs, and push them even further. The idea is that infantry units are the most limited in the game (slow, get hurt when attack, can't hit navies), but are also the strongest unit. I am talking so strong they kill equivalent ranged units in one hit (with sufficient flanking and bonuses). There was a time in the mod when this was the case, though it was a long time ago. What happens here is that ranged is still useful to soften them up, but you really need infantry to fight infantry. If an AI builds massed ranged, a melee line with these buffs will crush it. Now...the counterattack will still kill some of your units, but when 3 infantry kill 3 ranged in the attack, and then you push in again and kill a few more....than suddenly the attrition doesn't seem so bad. Massed ranged with a few infantry is still viable under this model (though it does lose some efficiency)...but this opens up more aggressive push type strategies as well to counter massed ranged.

    2) Remove the "push forward" when infantry kill a unit. This one is more controversial I'm sure, but we have precedent for it with citadels and fort. A big reason why infantry is not that useful is that any push into enemy territory is often suicidal, so you can't use your infantry offensively. They have to sit there and let the ranged units fire safely. However, if infantry no longer pushed forward, they could use their offense more often. They still get hurt, so they can't just attack over and over again, but it lets them be more aggressive.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
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  3. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    I don't think #1 or #2 are features I would enjoy playing with.

    I think this a numbers thing. 5 against 5, melee units, even pure melee, can work well, but when its 50 against 50, ranged are dominant, especially units that can move after attacking or have long range. Late game melee are good if you can actually get a smaller battle, they deal more damage and take less than ranged do. I don't think you can really change this shift in balance overtime without just redesigning the units.
     
  4. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I agree, that’s why my changes above were so radical, as that’s what I think it would take to make infantry units truly matter.

    People may not want that, and it’s understandable, but it’s important to note that the gap is wide enough that a simple numbers tweak doesn’t really change it...which is what I wanted to highlight
     
  5. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    I think it would be simpler to just rework gatling guns specifically, maybe remove the covering fire or frightening weapon or whatever its called.

    Something like this:
    Musket promote to riflemen, riflemen are a ranged unit.
    Make fusiliers promote to great war infantry.
    Make gatling guns their own thing with just 1 range. This makes them more a niche weapon, which their promotion design clearly points to them being.
     
  6. randomnub

    randomnub Chieftain

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    I think this is a psychological issue for us players only. We don't want to lose our highly promoted units hence we bide our time with AIs nameless soldiers while renaming our veterans, writing a cool background story for them and downloading a fantasy banner for when they retire as level 10 garrisons.

    I started to accept I have to conscript some cover2 poor sod and just send it into the meatgrind in order to break enemy lines and let the elite forces abuse their ranged soldiers. That, or have wars last 20 turns longer.

    I also don't mind gatling guns, they help characterize the trench warfare period with very little territorial gain and impervious defensive positions, after a few turns it's all about tanks and planes anyway.
     
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  7. DarkZero

    DarkZero Chieftain

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    IF all it took to win high difficulty wars was sacrificing units I think everyone here would be playing deity, re read the op post again, the problem is not about losing melee units, but the fact that using ranged ones in their place is just more efficient, and efficiency is the key to victories in high difficulties, the perfect scenario would be one where you can choose if you move in or not after a melee kill, but sadly I don't think that can be coded, and it's also a feature the ai will probably never use.
     
  8. vyyt

    vyyt Chieftain

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    I feel exactly the same. I brought this up twice before and it seemed that people didn't care or liked the way things were.

    So I decrease both RCS and CS of the non-siege ranged by about 1/4 in Renaissance, 1/3 in Industrial and even more in Modern and now I am a happy panda panda massing my infantry and using the Machine guns as support. I also tweaked the skirmisher line a bit, cannot remember how much.
     
  9. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I don't think the problem is purely the G gun, though its probably when its noticed the most. Crossbows against Longswords, Tercios against Musketmen, Infantry against Machine Guns...produces similar effects. I think G Guns tends to be the most pronounced both because of the strength, but as you said, the numbers on the field have hit the point where the ranged multiplier is really starting to add up.

    Here are a few more thoughts:


    • Give all infantry units the march promotion.
    Now a lot of people are going to go, "omg that's crazy powerful!". But...is it?

    Most of the time right now an infantry sits in its spot and defends. So...march doesn't do anything there. March doesn't also stop the sniping problem I mentioned, as it doesn't kick in until the unit gets to go again, and that is when the sniping occurs.

    Its easy to forget that every time the infantry moves, he's dropping that 25% fortification bonus (basically just shaved off a cover bonus), so pushing into enemy land is still quite suicidal.

    It would make defensive attacks with melee more viable, some attacks against cities using melee, and would make attacking first with melee against a health unit more viable (though less than you think, you really have to be careful the AI is very good at sniping any unit that shows weakness). It would also let infantry units recover quicker as they move to new areas (probably the biggest benefit of this change). But this would not fix the core issue, which is you cannot push in with infantry onto enemy ground.


    • Infantry units are always considered fortified.
    So this idea would both give infantry some more defense when they pushed in, but also directly hit the G gun line as those unit do a lot less damage to fortified units. So it could hit too birds with one stone. Would it be enough...I don't know, its hard to overestimate just how much pain an infantry has to soak when it moves in to enemy territory.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  10. pineappledan

    pineappledan Warlord

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    The melee/gun line, near as I can tell, is this: they are the most :c5strength: per :c5production: of any unit. They have cover and healing promotions which provide more defensive/fortification bonuses than other unit lines. So, their use is to absorb and drain the movement and attacks of enemy units, force them to expend valuable action points on targets that can are both tabkier and more expendable than other unit lines. That leads me to 2 possible changes:

    1) Instead of March, why not make it so all fusilier and later units just heal faster? They are the military divisions with the least complicated equipment (no horses, armor, complex moving parts/heavy guns) so it makes sense that healing would take less time for them. March, as you say, is redundant to what the infantry line tends to do, which is bite and hold ground.

    2) Another idea for rifleman/infantry: the use the minelayer code and sap 2 movement from all adjacent units at the start of each turn (existing code bottoms at 0.1667 moves). Make it so later infantry units big enemies into a meat grinder war. If they can bite into your line, no more war of movement, you’re there for the fight and the infantry line can use its higher CS values to beat you to a pulp. Turn WWI and WWII infantry into dirty, bloody melees where no one gets to move and shoot, you hit or you run
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  11. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    On number 1. Its an idea I have had myself a long time ago, as I do think it cinematically makes sense. However, it doesn't really solve the problem. Infantry is already good at holding defensive positions, in fact, I would argue that is the only thing they are good at. But what they aren't good at is general warfare, they attack....and the die. Extra healing doesn't really solve that.

    Number 2. Also an interesting idea. Now it still wouldn't stop the primary concern....the problem right now is not that ranged units can run from infantry....they don't have to. Infantry comes in and kill a unit, and then dies on the counterattack. Minelayers doesn't change that. But...it does add an interesting dynamic with horse units on occasion, so I would be curious to see what happens with it.


    Another, probably very controversial idea....is give infantry some kind of promotion (available at lets say Tier 3), that made them not cost unit supply. Or maybe its a promotion that fusiliers on obtain. That would represent the ultra cheap flavor of the unit, in a way that works with the game a lot more than fewer hammers. That said, the AI already produces so many units, I think this may be more beneficial for them than the player.

    There is also the idea of giving them the splash damage promotion, to represent the "hoard of guys" mentality that spills over the battlefield. That one is interesting, and does get stronger with more infantry on the field, which is something you want. hehe I still don't think it would be enough....that's how wide the gap is for me. But it definitely make infantry a more fun unit to use.
     
  12. vyyt

    vyyt Chieftain

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    How about something less controversial? Like lowering the RCS and CS of the non-siege ranged?

    Also, remember that there are other units than infantry and non-siege range.
     
  13. vyyt

    vyyt Chieftain

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    Or if you want something more complicated, how about giving the infantry extra defence per neighboring friendly (infantry?) unit? Or something like defensive flanking?

    It would make them stronger, but once you break the defensive line, their defensive ability would go down. The question is, would AI be able to use it effectively? I think it would - maybe unintentionally. It is already grouping units in defensive ranks quite well.
     
  14. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Hmm, what about the Rome pilum ability? Basically the idea of defense as offense. As long as I can hold the spot, the guys in front of me take damage. This is a way for infantry to hold the line "defensively" but still maintain offense.
     
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  15. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    What that does is make melee and ranged horses more dominant. Sure infantry becomes more viable against them, but so does everything else. So in that case I'll just use my horses to kill your troops and still gain the advantage of pulling back and don't taking counterattacks.

    The tricky part of this is that Infantry's problem is "a situational lack of defense that leads to no offense". When they are holding up, they are a strong unit...they just don't do anything. When they push into the enemy, even though they take less ranged damage than nearly any other unit (especially with cover), its not enough to have them survive a strong ranged line. It doesn't matter that a Fusilier can take another G Gun hit compared to a Lancer....when a lancer can pull back and take 0 g gun attacks. Your defense, no matter how strong, is never the equal of "take no hits".

    If we wanted to try the "simple but blunt approach"....give infantry Cover I and II (yes both). I know that the covers by themselves aren't enough, but if I get them for free and so have combined them with regular promotions, maybe that would make a difference.
     
  16. vyyt

    vyyt Chieftain

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    @Stalker0 , yes, it will make horses more powerful against ranged, which I think is a good thing, no?

    Not sure if I understood your 2nd paragraph, lowering the CS and RCS of ranged does not change anything regarding infantry VS ranged and horse VS ranged, does it? Or are you saying that you would rather put horses on the front line than infantry? I think you rarely get a chance to charge in with a lancer, kill the ranged and then run away avoiding all the ZOCs to a completely safe place (4 moves is not that many), unless you made a big opening in the enemy lines and crushed their defenses - but then again, I think it is perfectly fine.

    I think a combination of making the ranged weaker AND giving the infantry a pillum would be worth a try.
     
  17. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I do it all the time, its one of the main ways to actually kill enemy units. Don't forget that you should always have roads at your border, which gives you a few more moves. Horses don't need to be stronger, they are plenty stronger already. Heck we probably could do another RCS nerf on the skirmisher line, and they would still be great.
     
  18. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

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    When you want to advance in a trench, you order covering fire first. The only way for melee units not to die is having some ranged support.

    Other tactical games have a ranged cover ability that protects your melee from the enemy ranged fire using your adjacent ranged units.

    So, what if ranged units could 'borrow' half their RCS whenever a friendly adjacent melee unit is hit by ranged damage? Our melee would last considerably longer as long as we can escort them with ranged units.
     
  19. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    @Stalker0
    So your examples are all situations where the ranged unit takes more technology, just something to keep in mind.

    You could lower the CS of ranged units even more. It is kind of dumb that it sometimes takes me 3 melee attacks to kill crossbows or muskets. However, that has consequences, the AI and city states see CS, not RCS, to tend to really underestimate ranged unit heavy armies.
     
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  20. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Fair enough, though I think the argument holds up even with lesser ranged units. Crossbows can still create death zones for tercios, and g guns do pretty good against rifleman. I think that's another reason that ranged is dominant, its not as tech reliant as an infantry heavy army.
     

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