Supply lines is a mechanic in campaign which increases the total cost of armies depending on the number of armies that you field above one army. The intention of this mechanic is to restrict the player as they grow stronger, making rapid expansion harder. However, the dependence of the cost increase due to the number of armies favour bringing few armies containing elite and expensive units. Together with the lightning strike skill, this makes low and medium tier (~200-600 gold) units redundant quickly.
I propose a change of the supply line system where it is based on the total cost of all armies and where the cost increase has a more profound effect on expensive armies and less of an effect on cheaper armies. How would this work?
The upkeep of all armies is increased depending on the TOTAL base upkeep of all armies. This leads to an upkeep increase of every individual army, where the increase is lower if an army cost is lower than a "baseline" cost and higher if it's lower than the baseline.
But what is the baseline cost? This is an arbitary number (for base upkeep, not including ANY modifiers) that ensures that the upkeep increase from supply lines would be the same as it is now. I.e. if you have any number of armies and all of them each have that upkeep cost, your total upkeep cost will be UNCHANGED. In other words the extra upkeep cost from supply lines will be the same as it is now.
If an army has got a base upkeep which is higher than this amount, its upkeep increase from supply lines will be HIGHER than it is now. On the other hand, if the army's base upkeep cost is lower than this amount, it will have a LOWER upkeep increase from supply lines. The upkeep increase or decrease scales LINEARLY with respect to army cost. An army with an upkeep half of the baseline cost will be affected by supply lines half as much and vice versa for an army twice as expensive. Your total upkeep will be the sum of the individual armies which might be affected differently from supply lines.
So to summarize this idea: Fielding more expensive armies will increase the upkeep of all of your armies. More expensive armies will be affected more by this upkeep increase while cheap ones will be affected less. Your total upkeep is the sum of the individual army upkeep for all armies.
Why is this a good mechanic?
This change would create an incentive for bringing other armies than doomstacks. Cheap armies and medium cost armies might become more viable as they provide decent combat ability without costing too much. In addition the cost of fielding so called "doomstacks" would increase significantly . Doomstacks might still be viable in some situations, but the increased cost of expensive armies could restrict their overall strategic value.
In addition it would improve the strategical depth of the game as the upkeep system is more complex. This would greatly improve the replayability of the game, as well as increasing the amount of strategies that players can explore during campaigns.
Clarifications of some concepts
The upkeep that determines the upkeep increase from supply lines is the base upkeep cost. In other words the upkeep of the unit neglecting any type of modifiers (buildings, traits etc.). This simplifies balancing as you don´t have to take into a account the large amount of cost modifiers that exist in the game.
The "baseline cost" is arbitary and set by the developers in order to balance the game. My idea of this cost is that it is the cost of an average army which is not too expensive and not too cheap. Something along the lines of 2500-3000 gold base upkeep could be considered the "baseline cost".
The upkeep increases depend on the total base upkeep, but the upkeep increases are added on an army to army basis. If you have any questions about how this works send a PM to me and I could provide you with the math that describes it in more detail.
The upkeep of heroes is treated as if they were a unit while embedded in an army. Outside of armies their upkeep increases as if they were a part of an army with an upkeep equal to the baseline cost. So if you only have armies with individual upkeep equal to the baseline cost, the upkeep of agents will increase by the same amount as it does right now.
This system seems very difficult to understand. Why make it so complex?
It could be hard to understand every single detail and to predict how differences in army composition changes the total cost at first glance. However my suggested supply line mechanic is not very hard to understand at the core level. Expensive armies are more expensive and all armies become more expensive if you have more troops, especially for costly ones. In the same way, it is very difficult to understand every detail of the process of eating an apple. But no one has got any problems with actually eating an apple.
I think that it might be harder to understand every single detail of my suggestion than to play the game with these changes. However, if my proposed system is too hard to understand the UI could be updated to include some details about the upkeep changes etc. It could also be optional to play with or without the additional information.
Problematic cheese exploits
The system I propose is not perfect and is susceptible to cheese. You could field mass amounts of one-lord armies which would circumvent the supply lines in practice. I have been thinking about this problem for a long time without a good way to deal with it. Perhaps you could only field a certain amount of lords depending on how much income you have or how many regions you control (similar to how agent caps are tied to buildings as well as a base capacity). Another way to try to solve it could be that armies below a certain size cost extra upkeep. You could also change the upkeep increase from supply lines to depend on the average cost of a unit in an army. That way one-lord armies would suffer from very high upkeep increases.
I welcome any suggestions in this area as I have not found a good solution to this problem.
So what do you guys think? Leave a comment and share your view on the topic! Together we will find a solution to the doom stacks dominance and pave the way for weaker troops