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In the current state I'm glad Chinese peasants on horseback with rattan shields can survive missile fire for longer and better than demigods on horseback from Bretonia with their high missile block chance and missile resist. Rant from that over real ideas to balance them. (Edited original post to clarify some things mentioned slightly).
Fire cavalry should rely on armor values to survive concentrated arrow fire and their movement should be slow as they should be heavily armored to represent how they are supposed to charge with mass, either in the front or the flanks. Crossbows would be good against them, more so than standard archers due to armor values. If keeping the militia variants they should have lower charge bonuses as they don't have the armor that would give them the mass to warrant it. Idk what to do with them as a militia unit honestly though.
Earth Cavalry should be lighter in armor but faster with shields and speed to block missile fire not just innate tankiness making them immune to all but spears. they should be used for skirmishing harassing the backline and flanks but should be cutdown like any low armored target to fire from the rear where they can't block the oncoming fire.
Water Cavalry should be the fastest given the lightest armor and should be good at either harassing the flanks or enemy cavalry and Generals. I assumed originally they would be good at harassing from the the flanks or tiring out the heavier fire cavalry, but in the current game state the are slower than fire cavalry and don't actually do enough damage to anything to warrant not just ignoring them. I honestly don't know what to do with them as the game currently is as their damage output is too low to be a threat unless they are hybrid melee like the Qiang and White Horse Fellows, any suggestions would be neat or maybe I'm just using them wrong.
These are my ideas for how cavalry should be rebalanced I'm sure there are plenty of other discussions on how to balance them but I felt like making my own, plus it gave me an excuse to rant once more about how much I hate the balancing decisions for earth cavalry in this game. Anyone else have other ideas or suggestions I'm sure they'll be fun to read.