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[R&F] Would life be better without Battering Rams?

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by acluewithout, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    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.

    Any way, here’s my proposal.
    • No More Battering Rams.
    • Seige and Seige Towers get a %production card.
    • 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).
    • Seige get +10 defence v Ranged (or +10 defence if they haven’t moved this turn).
    • Light Cav get -17 v Cities.
    • 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.
    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  2. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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...

    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.

    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.
     
  3. Patine

    Patine Chieftain

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    There are historical cultures (like Scandinavian cultures, Scythians, and Iroquois and a few other Native American groups - I'm not certain I've heard of such from Cree or Aztecs, specifically, but it would be more likely than the alternative, as good examples) who are on record using battering rams extensively, but NEVER being known to use Siege Towers or other pre-gunpowder siege/artillery units in records. Just throwing that out there.
     
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  4. liv

    liv Warlord

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    I don't have a lot of suggestions but just wanted to say that I agree if AI cannot learn how to use the support units, they should just get rid of them and simplify.
     
  5. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    They're unnecessary and could easily be simplified out of the game. One can simply assume that, when faced with having to assault a walled city, the attacking troops will use the best means available to them (which will often if not always involve getting a big log and attaching something heavy to the front of it to use for smashing in the weakest spot on the walls, i.e. the doors. Battering rams don't really require a lot of advance planning to assemble and move).

    If you wanted to depict more sophisticated capacity to take walled cities, an earlier version of the Military Engineer would be the way to do it. That's who has the know how to assemble catapults or trebuchets on site, or to instigate tunnelling attacks to undermine the foundation of the walls.

    How much of an impact a Military Engineer has could then diminish with the quality of the Walls. Maybe they add +50% damage against Ancient Walls, 25% against Medieval Walls, only 10% against Renaissance Walls, and zero after Steel.
     
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  6. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Siege Warfare, unfortunately, is historically the most sophisticated and complex form of warfare. Whacking in the gate with a log works fine, if you are attacking a simple wooden over-size door in a wooden palisade. But from the very first city walls, everywhere they were built in the Middle East, India, China, etc. the Gate was recognized as a Weak Spot and protected. Protection included building a tower over it so you could drop things on people trying to get through the gate. Then the log beating on the gate has to be protected by a roof of some kind, then the roof has to be supported, and the whole thing has to be big enough to cover the men moving it and the Ram, and pretty soon you have a great big Tower with a ram sticking out the front and several hundred men moving and fighting from it - all very complicated and requiring very specialized knowledge and expertise to build and use. Expertise which some armies definitely did NOT have, like, for instance, the early Classical Greeks or, specifically, Hannibal's army in Italy in the Second Punic War.

    In another Thread, which I'm too lazy to find a link to at the moment, the suggestion was made that we replace all the early Siege units with an early (early Classical Era?) Military Engineer, a Support unit which, when placed next to a city wall, built an 'Improvement' next to the city that represented all the various Siege Machinery - towers, rams, lithoboulae, sambuchae, etc, most of which had to be built on or near the spot in reality. This would then allow you to attack the city walls with some hope of success, and when the 'Siege' was over, you might get the Military Engineer back or you might not. This has the advantage of neatly representing both the complexity of siege operations (and the expense, if Military Engineers are suitably expensive to produce in the Game) and the fact that in reality, none of the Siege equipment was particularly mobile or had any value against any military target more mobile than a Wall.

    This 'system' would be appropriate right up to the early Industrial Era, when the parallels and mines of a classic Vauban-type Siege were really very precise engineering works with cannon artillery added. Thus, the earliest separate 'siege' unit would be the Bombard. but trying to use one against a well-defended city without also having a Military Engineer to protect (by digging emplacements for it) the Bombard would lose the Bombard to defensive fire in short order. Sieges as well as city defenses got very, very expensive in the Renaissance - it's one reason why modern banking got invented at about the same time that Bombards were.
     
  7. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    @Boris Gudenuf All good points.

    I guess my question though is whether it’s really worthwhile representing Battering Rams etc at all.

    I don’t think it adds much in terms of gameplay - it’s really just one more thing to build or buy. I guess in theory Rams could be targeted by the Defender, creating some tactical considerations. But that never really happens - the AI doesn’t use them, doesn’t target them, and their easy to protect anyway.

    I’m also not sure they’re historically significant enough to be worth the effort either.

    I think Rams and Seige Towers could just be represented as a Melee and or Heavy Cav promotion (and even then, just be a CA bonus v cities rather than the current damage mechanic). Alternatively, maybe there could be a leaf tech that you research, that gives all your units a bonus CS against Walls or something (Military Tactics would be a great candidate).
     
  8. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Absolutely agree in that right now Rams are a Human-Only Unit so it only serves to make it easier to take cities for about the first third/half of the game. On the one hand, Siege Techniques, tactics, machinery are expensive and specialized, and so should take some effort, but obviously, Siege Units aren't doing it in Civ VI.

    That's why I'm leaning towards the Early Military Engineer = Siege Improvement next to the walls/city/district version, in which you have to invest in an almost 'siege only' unit in the Military Engineer who has virtually no effect other than in 'siege' attacks on cities.

    The idea of a Promotion that gives a bonus versus walls/cities is another way to go, but that requires only a one-time investment in getting the Promotion, and then you can Upgrade that unit as a Siege Unit for the rest of the game. I don't think that reflects the on-going expense of maintaining siege expertise and relevant equipment/weapons. On the other hand, a Siege Line of Promotions available to any Melee, Anti-Cav, or Heavy Cavalry - or even, using the 'branching tree' from of most Promotion Trees, a set of Ranged Siege Promotions down one side applicable to Ranged units - which, with considerable investment, allows you to maintain 'Siege Expertise' throughout the game.

    For example:
    left side Siege Promotions:
    Storming Ladders: + X Combat Factors versus Ancient or Medieval Walls
    Pavises: + X Combat Factors versus Districts or Forts
    Parallels: + X Combat Factors versus Renaissance Walls
    right side Siege Promotions:
    Incendiaries: + X Ranged Factors against Ancient Walls or Unwalled Cities
    Engines: + X Ranged Factors against Medieval Walls
    Batteries: + X Ranged factors against Renaissance Walls
    final Siege Promotion:
    Sappers: removes effect of any Wall or Terrain defensive bonus

    Incendiaries, of course, is a current Ranged Promotion which will have to be changed.

    Obviously, it will be almost impossible to get a unit promoted all the way unless you have a lucky Warrior who gets involved in every City Attack you ever make!
    To make it a little more likely, we could add a couple of Great Generals like, say, Demetrius Poliorcetes ('Demetrius the Beseiger', Classical Era) or Vauban (Renaissance Era) that can apply 2 or more Siege Promotions to a unit all at once, giving you an instant 'siege train' in that unit.
     
  9. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    For much the same reason that American football features the most complex in game planning of any sport. It's the one form of battle when you can step back and think through "what do I want to do next?" without being run through by an enemy lancer while you consult with your mathematicians.
     
  10. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Or, as George Will (a fanatic Baseball Fan, to be sure) famously put it:
    "Football combines the two worst aspects of American life: violence punctuated by committee meetings..."

    But on siege warfare, firing a torsion-spring catapult required, among other things, Perfect Pitch, because the skeins of hair that made up the torsion 'springs' were tuned to the proper tension very much like a guitar string. And firing a catapult for range and accuracy was one of the events in the Isthmian Games in Greece - imagine that Event added to the modern Olympics!

    More to our point, expertise in Siege Warfare was such an esoteric skillset that certain armies became famous for it: the Mongols brought Chinese experts along with them into central Asa and the Middle East to take down walls, and the French Army as a legacy of Vauban and their early 'Artillery Schools' were the model for the rest of Europe for almost 200 years when it came to building or taking fortifications. IMHO, it would not be a Bad Thing to see that kind of 'specialized expertise' in the game, wherein the Military Engineers from certain Civs (or even City States) are extra-prized because of their pre-eminent abilities in taking cities...

    Of course, for that to happen taking cities has to be made a lot harder than it is now: I can't remember the last time I built a Siege Tower or Military Engineer in the game: having Bombards a bit early is all I've ever needed...
     
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  11. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Again, I think the question is whether this “esoteric skillset” is best represented through a separate unit or some other way. From everything @Boris Gudenuf has said, it really sounds like it would be better representing Seige though some leaf tech that after you research it just gives some or all land units a bonus against walls.

    Military Tactics would be perfect. It’s already a leaf tech, and currently doesn’t have enough value to justify that. I think it would work well getting the tech at the same time you get Pikes. The only rub is maybe MT comes too late eg for Ancient Walls. Perhaps Melee get a +5 v districts after Swordsmen, and then that increases to +10 after you research MT.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  12. Phrozen

    Phrozen Chieftain

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    Boris might know more about this but I believe until the rise of organized, trained, and specialized armies that siege engineers were pretty much mercenaries. They were professional soldiers that you hired rather than a say a feudal levy. You probably didn't have them on retainer unless you were particularly wealthy and maybe not even then. Once gunpowder cannons and mines became common and the need to actually protect them from return fire was apparent then you get the specialized sappers and miners.
     
  13. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    The earliest indication of 'special siege expertise' that I know of dates from the earliest part of the Classical Era - Assyrians, Chinese, with techniques only later spreading to Greeks and Romans and others.

    That puts the earliest use of Siege Towers and other such 'engines' at about the first tier of Classical Techs: Celestial Navigation, Currency, Horseback Riding, Iron Working - none really appropriate.
    On the other hand, the Ancient/Classical/Medieval/Renaissance Techs that have Siege influences/units now are:
    Masonry (Ancient)
    .....Unit: Battering Ram
    .....Building: Ancient Walls
    .....Cost: 80
    Construction (Classical)
    .....Unit: Siege Tower
    .....Cost: 200
    Engineering (Classical)
    .....Unit: Catapult
    .....Cost: 200
    Military Engineering (Medieval)
    .....Unit: Military Engineer
    .....Cost: 390
    Castles (Medieval)
    .....Building: Medieval Walls
    ....Cost: 390
    Metal Casting (Renaissance)
    .....Unit: Bombard
    .....Cost 660
    Siege Tactics (Renaissance)
    .....Building: Renaissance Walls
    .....Cost 660
    From this, I would say that right now the Siege Tower actually comes much too late, with a late Classical Tech when the Technology was already fully developed in the early Classical Era (Alexander and his father, Demetrius the Besieger, all beore 200 BCE). On the other hand, the earliest Siege effect unit, the Battering Ram, as has been commented on frequently on this Forum, is much too powerful.
    My suggestion, then, would be to remove the Battering Ram and into the Support position thus vacated move the Military Engineer, but initially the Military Engineer might only be able to give a Bonus against walls to units stacked with him (rather like the Battering Ram but limited to Stacked Units only), later, at Engineering and Military Engineering your Military Engineers can also Negate Walls (like a Siege Tower), provide a Ranged Attack versus Walls (like a Catapult), build Forts and Roads, and perhaps at Siege Tactics they can also Remove Walls with mines. Make all of these require Charges, and your Siege Expertise should be suitably expensive and requiring some continuous attention to maintain (building new Military Engineers).

    IF required, we might also add some kind of Siege Promotion for Melee/Anti-Cav or Ranged units, but a better line of development, I think, would be that when Military Engineers 'negate' Walls, any attacking unit attacks the Garrison, which is always considered to be an Era-Suitable Melee Unit. Therefore, any appropriate 'normal' Promotions that the attacking unit has, can be applied to the attack on the Garrison. That avoids having to 'mess with the Promotion Trees just for Siege purposes, and makes using a promoted 'assault' unit appropriate for attacking cities.
     
  14. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Surprisingly, just the opposite. The Assyrian Army, the first 'professional' besiegers, were all native sons of Ashur and didn't hire out to anybody. The Greek city states also maintained their own 'siege experts', but couldn't afford very many, and many of the smaller city states probably had nothing better than a math teacher who had read Aeneas Tacticus and knew how to do the math to build a proper-sized catapult. Alexander and his Successors had their own siege trains, but also had the money to fund them, as did Rome. Certain peoples were prized as having knowledge of siege techniques, but rather than hire them as individuals, you allied with them or (Mongols!) conquered them (Chinese) and then conscripted them to your purposes.

    Now the paradox. With the rise of the very arcane knowledge of gunpowder mixing and using and Bombard casting, the 'siege experts' became mercenaries, and generally not even treated as Military - they were hired like other civilians and treated as such. Most famous, of course, was the Hungarian who cast a monster Bombard that was used by the Turks against Constantinople in the final siege/assault on the city, but he was just one of many. This 'civilianization' of siege and cannon stayed with the European armies for quite a while even as they were becoming 'professional': it was the early 1620s before the Swedes 'militarized' their artillery, making the gunners military men instead of civilians and organizing the artillery into military Companies. It was 1671, about 250 years after the first Bombards, before the French organized the first Regiment of Artillery and established a formal school to train artillerymen, the first such in Europe. Finally, even that militarization didn't extend to the people moving the artillery and siege trains - that was done by hiring civilian drivers and their horse or oxen teams for the season. That meant that on the battlefield, once the guns were in place, the draft teams left because the civilians owning them were not about to expose their animals or themselves to shot and shell. It was the 1750s before European armies began to organize 'Trains Companies' or militarized teams of draft horses and drivers to move their guns.

    Which means, for Game Purposes, your Siege units/support/expertise really has to be developed and paid for within your Civ until the Bombard. Then, we could incorporate, legitimately, a Mercenary Siege/Military Engineer into the mix. Since the Renaissance also saw generally a massive increase in the use and importance of Mercenaries (The White Company, Swiss, Landsknechts, 'Gentlemen Adventurers', Condotierri, etc) that Era would be a good place to introduce a Mercenary Mechanic into the game for both Combat Units and Military Engineers.
     
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  15. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    Putting Siege technologies on leaf techs is a very, very good idea. It's exactly the sort of specialized knowledge that provides a valuable in game benefit that warrants the science investment if you plan to use it, and can be justifiably by-passable by other civs without being immersion breaking.
     
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