Would Civ work better without Rams?
The AI can’t use them, and players use them too well. They make walls irrelevant in many ways. And Masonary doesn’t need them, as it alread provides ancient walls and pyramids. No Rams would also make Seige and Seige Towers more important.
I think I’ve probably mentioned this idea before, but thought of it again when I saw this mod
As a general rule, both for Game Balance and, if it matters, historical accuracy, cities should be much harder to take once they have Walls. Historically, against a well-built set of stone, rammed earth, or stone/timber/turf walls regular Melee and Ranged units were severely handicapped, and cities fell to Treachery (in Aeneas Tacticus' little manual on city-taking (written right after Alexander the Great's time, in the Classical Era), about half his book is devoted to how to keep someone from opening the gates and just letting the enemy in - almost nothing is devoted to defending against Siege Engines: the walls did that without much help!) or Starvation rather than Assault, more often than not. In Game Terms, attacking a walled city with only archers/crossbowmen and Melee units should be a recipe for expensive Disaster.
Any way, here’s my proposal.
- Seige and Seige Towers get a %production card.
Not sure about making any type of Siege equipment cheaper. It was expensive, and required specially trained artisans to design and build, and a Siege Train from Alexander the Great on was a big investment usually reserved for Major States: none of the Greek City States, for instance, ever had one: only Alexander, his Successors, and Rome could afford them. Notoriously, Hannibal did not have a Siege Train, and he couldn't improvise one in Italy, so even his Ever-Victorious Army was completely unable to take any of the Roman-Allied Walled Italian Cities.
- Melee units lose the Battle Cry Promotion (it’s broken anyway). Instead, Battle Cry now gives Melee units +10 v Districts. Heavy Cav get a +10 v Cities as a base ability once you research Military Theory (perhaps coupled with giving all heavy Cav +1 maintenance).
For the first tier promotion Battle Cry, how about giving Melee +5 vs Mounted? That cuts down the OP Mounted Units a bit, and emphasizes the real strength of 'melee' (swordsmen) units, which is their flexibility against most opponents. Compensate by adding +1 to the Melee Maintenance, reflecting the greater training required for them to use their swords, shields, maces, etc. effectively in a group.
- Seige get +10 defence v Ranged (or +10 defence if they haven’t moved this turn).
- Light Cav get -17 v Cities.
How about a +10 Defense for any Siege that is Set Up? Most of the 'Seige Engines' had to be constructed on the spot, so they should require part of the turn before being useful, and once set up, the catapults are protected by earth and timber and the Towers have their wet hides on against enemy missiles.
More generally on Cav, Light Cavalry doesn't really reflect major combat abilities. I would take away any requirement for Horse resources (that should go to the Heavy Cavalry, including Chariots which required larger draft animals to be effective) and give them all the Flank Bonuses from the start because unless they caught somebody in the flank or rear close-order infantry really didn't have much to fear from them. I would generally drop the Light Cavalry/Horseman combat factors to about 25 but swap the Promotions Caparison and Depradation so that the first tier promo gives them better Pillaging prospects - it's mostly what they were good for anyway...
- Anti-Cav reworked to be more defensive. Make them cheaper, give them +10 combat strength when garrisoned, and rework promotions a little (inc a tier one promotion which gives them defence v ranged, and swap their +1 movement promotion for no penalties when injured).
- AI get +combat strength v cities based on difficulty level.
There have been some discussions about Anti-Cav before. Your basic Spearman really should be the Default Ancient/Classical/Medieval Infantry: cheap to build, cheap to maintain, reasonably but not excessively effective against all comers. Good (promoted) Swordsmen with shields and armor can take him to pieces, as the Roman legions (literally) chopped up the Successor phalanxes, but generally they should be able to hold their own against any Light Cavalry or Chariots, Ranged or Melee/Warriors - close order spearmen with shields, after all, are as well-protected was anyone against arrows or thrown missiles of any kind!
I would get rid of the Echelon Promotion - extra strength versus cavalry should be redundant for close-ranked spearmen. Instead, have the promotion Locked Shields giving, say, +7 defense versus Ranged.
Additionally, if you dropped rams generally, you could maybe rework the battering ram as a unique ability for one of the existing Civs, granting that effect to one unit class.
The Battering Ram by itself is not really accurate, anyway. Except against the most primitive wooden defenses or gates, rams were encased in some kind of protection or the enemy simply dropped rocks, hot water, hot sand, boiling oil, etc on the ram and watched the crew run screaming (hot sand inside your armor will do that) and the wooden ram start burning. The first illustrations we have, of Assyrian siege techniques, show rams and picks used against stone or mud-brick walls encased in a rolling tower, and the term Engine or Siege Engine really covers all the mobile wall-attacking equipment: towers, rams, 'moles', 'sambucha' and other oddities. Losing the separate Ram and concentrating on the Siege Tower/Siege Engine of the (early) Classical Era as the first regular Siege unit also increases the difficulty of attacking all the earlier Walled Cities - including the City States that so frequently start disappearing early in the game.