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Player choices with army composition as prime example, my No.2 concern with the game at the moment

YANGXuYANGXu Posts: 15Registered Users
edited July 5 in General Discussion
This post is actually a follow up to my last post 'Map design, my No.1 concern with the game', here is the link if anybody is willing to read that one. https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/comment/2428884#Comment_2428884

Just finished a double legendary campaign as Dong Zhuo in 77 turns. After occupying a few of SunJian's land and defeating one out of his 4 full stacks, he agreed to abdicate. I must say this a great mechanic saving me a lot of steamrolling time. A great mechanic like so many other good designs and huge potentials in the game, but they are unfortunately shadowed by this lack of player choices problem at the moment. I will discuss this problem with army composition as an example. This post could also serve as a guide in that matter.

Players after sinking a few hours in the game will probably find that although there are 5 hero classes, you only have several solid hero combos. This is partly because of the new retinue system and partly because of the actually quite small skill trees, but more importantly, this is based on the realization that all troops in this game can be classified into 2 categories: DPS - ranged and cavalry, and tank - melee infantry. Now let's discuss the great impact of this realization on army composition in details.

1. ranged unit. This is a simple choice. Strategists, that's it, you have to have one in each of your armies if you want your life easier. They have all the bonus skills for ranged and they are the only class that can recruit the time travelling Armstrong gun.

2. cavalry. This is a little more complicated. You have vanguards for lancers and commanders for sabers. Lancers are great for hammer and anvil but have zero ranged block chance except for certain special and late game units. Sabers have slightly worse charge bonus but exceptional in blocking ranged attacks (85 block chance with skill), in addition, they are a little better in defeating enemy cavalry. Considering your main threat on the battlefield will be the enemy ranged units and cav, I would go with commander, but honestly, they are both solid options.

3. melee units. The main thing here is that you need to understand that especially in early to mid game, they are recruited for their defensive instead of offensive abilities. You need them to tank enemy dpsers, thus shield for ranged units and charge reflection for cavalry. Therefore, although both champions and sentinels excel at melee fighters, champions are the clear winners.

Consequently, you have the following solid combos : champion/sentinel + vanguard/commander + strategist. If you want to further maximize, you will want champion + vanguard/commander + strategist, especially if you need the commanding skills of champions and vanguards. With this combo, you should defeat superior enemies with minimal casualties.

Honestly, since this is a single player game players should not have to min/max everything. It's just when certain options are obviously way better than the rest, I find it very difficult to justify not using them. This leads to a great problem though. Because at the moment every faction other than the yellow vest rebellions almost share the same unit roster, you would play everyone pretty similarly on the battlefield. I have discussed the map design problem in another post. Basically, because half of the map are either deserted or held by the Han Empire, a faction even more passive than the rebels in Medieval 2, and everyone is clustered in the northern part of the map, you will find that most factions also play very similarly on the campaign map - fighting the same enemies, conquering the same settlements (don't make me start at the immersion-breaking settlements' names, imagine instead of Rome you have Italia Town).

In conclusion, the game in its current state suffers from the lack of replayability because players are left with very limited choices. Some limits are hard as players have no say in it such as the map design problem whereas some are soft since players have obviously better options.

I really hope the future chapter packs will at least fix these problems. Less playable factions in later scenarios with more variable starting positions would be great. Possible barbarians faction packs will partly fix the army composition problem, although to really fix that CA needs to revamp the retinue system.
Post edited by YANGXu on

Comments

  • Soslick22Soslick22 Senior Member Posts: 558Registered Users
    I think the general/retinue system needs a complete re-work. The idea is fine, but the implementation is poorly done. Like you said, the optimal compositions are very few, and you end up doing basically the same thing in every army. Strategists are pretty key, and not having one in your army is a massive disadvantage. This should not be the case. I'm not sure what they need to do but it is probably my biggest gripe with the game right now.
  • WhiteHorseMemesWhiteHorseMemes Posts: 331Registered Users
    I'm thinking they should buff swordsmen units and make them absolutely destroy spear units (moreso than currently), so that they become more of a consideration.
  • YANGXuYANGXu Posts: 15Registered Users

    I'm thinking they should buff swordsmen units and make them absolutely destroy spear units (moreso than currently), so that they become more of a consideration.

    The problem is that in this title, when it comes to melee fighting, charge bonus is the dominating stats. This is also why cavalry is so effective at the moment. Unless CA reworks the entire melee stats calculation, which is virtually impossible, swordsmen will always be 'chicken ribs' - a Chinese term to describe something awkward to use but a pity to discard. BTW, that term originated from a CaoCao's story.
  • Ephraim_DaltonEphraim_Dalton Senior Member Posts: 20,404Registered Users
    Strategists need to be nerfed into oblivion. I've really grown to loath how much of an advantage they give you by not only giving you OP ranged units, formations and nullifying supply requirements.

    That's one of the classic ball drops by CA.

  • WhiteHorseMemesWhiteHorseMemes Posts: 331Registered Users
    What if the supply bonus and/or formations were moved to commanders instead?
  • YANGXuYANGXu Posts: 15Registered Users

    What if the supply bonus and/or formations were moved to commanders instead?

    That would kill vanguard, unfortunately. You still need strategists for their ranged units regardless. The major problem here is the retinue system in my opinion.
  • zerkmannzerkmann Posts: 348Registered Users
    edited July 6
    Honestly, they need to move crossbows into Commanders. The flaw with the Wuxing right now is that unit types are hard locked into general types instead of them having access to units based on function.

    For example Vanguard generals, instead of only having shock cavalry should also have access to shock infantry and other high damage melee infantry.

    Also if you look at how many units are locked behind Strategist, its pretty clear how much you are gimping yourself by not bringing at least one in your army.
  • BoombastekBoombastek Posts: 2,006Registered Users
    YANGXu said:



    I'm thinking they should buff swordsmen units and make them absolutely destroy spear units (moreso than currently), so that they become more of a consideration.

    The problem is that in this title, when it comes to melee fighting, charge bonus is the dominating stats. This is also why cavalry is so effective at the moment. Unless CA reworks the entire melee stats calculation, which is virtually impossible, swordsmen will always be 'chicken ribs' - a Chinese term to describe something awkward to use but a pity to discard. BTW, that term originated from a CaoCao's story.
    Hm i all time using sentinel general and lots sword/axe infantry. Cos every sentinel had skill charge resistance to his infantry in retinue.
  • BoombastekBoombastek Posts: 2,006Registered Users

    What if the supply bonus and/or formations were moved to commanders instead?

    That doesn't increase Comander pick rate.
  • zerkmannzerkmann Posts: 348Registered Users

    YANGXu said:



    I'm thinking they should buff swordsmen units and make them absolutely destroy spear units (moreso than currently), so that they become more of a consideration.

    The problem is that in this title, when it comes to melee fighting, charge bonus is the dominating stats. This is also why cavalry is so effective at the moment. Unless CA reworks the entire melee stats calculation, which is virtually impossible, swordsmen will always be 'chicken ribs' - a Chinese term to describe something awkward to use but a pity to discard. BTW, that term originated from a CaoCao's story.
    Hm i all time using sentinel general and lots sword/axe infantry. Cos every sentinel had skill charge resistance to his infantry in retinue.
    Its not like that matters much since the AI doesnt know how to use cav and they also dont know how to deal with the player cycle charging them either. They just run around like headless chickens.
  • RO37RO37 Senior Member Posts: 527Registered Users
    edited July 6
    Crossbows should be unlocked as a general use unit. Only elite heavy crossbows or archers should be exclusive to Strategists.

    Also the trebuchet needs to be nered into oblivion, or it needs to be made a siege only unit that is built like siege rams or tunnels on site

    That would go a long way towards making armies less strategist reliant.
  • RO37RO37 Senior Member Posts: 527Registered Users
    I also agree with the idea of buffing swordsmrn. Maybe making their ranged block chance higher might be a good fix?
  • zerkmannzerkmann Posts: 348Registered Users
    RO37 said:

    I also agree with the idea of buffing swordsmrn. Maybe making their ranged block chance higher might be a good fix?

    Nah, simply make them way deadlier, and not just "oh jian sword guards roughly kill 10 more or so models vs heavy spear guards". At that point you'll preferably just get spear guards and let your archers and cav do all the work.
  • GhettobibleGhettobible Posts: 37Registered Users
    The problem is Commanders get mostly lackluster units. They also cannot get heavy or medium ji or spear units which is not good design.

    Vanguards atm are one trick ponies.

    Strategists are a must, it's annoying.

    Sentinels are broken, they have set items they cannot use because for some reason they cannot use 2 handed weapons despite their best unit using two handed weapons. (Glaives)

    Champions got the most choice but not everyone wants a Champion heavy army.
  • WhiteHorseMemesWhiteHorseMemes Posts: 331Registered Users
    I think the ones that need the buff the most are commanders. Everything about them just seems so off. Their skills seem like they should be in the position of sentinels, using frontline units and helping to hold the line or push back the enemy line, but the units they are given are melee cavalry. Why? Also, they don't even have that many melee cavalry and there aren't any unique melee cavalry in the game (100% this will be "fixed" as new factions get added in later scenarios). They're not great at fighting duels or fighting enemy troops compared to champs or vanguards, and they lack the feeling of being necessary like strategists. Everything about them seems underwhelming, when really in my opinion it should be the opposite, particularly since many of the factions of the game have commander warlords.
  • Ephraim_DaltonEphraim_Dalton Senior Member Posts: 20,404Registered Users
    Switch Champions' and Commanders' unit affinity, makes way more sense.

  • Grimgor_the_CAkeGrimgor_the_CAke Posts: 1,621Registered Users
    1st problem is trebuchet. Army with trebuchet(s) should have travel distance reduced. Now army with cavalry only can travel further, so I think we can do something on army with trebuchet. 2nd, I think trebuchet should be a buildable unit and you could build it anywhere on the map with the help of a strategist and the level of a strategist affects how long it takes to build it (in friendly territory, you build it faster. near friendly settlement's zone of control, you get it the same turn like now).

    I do not see how strategist OP on other aspects though as I only play normal difficulty and dun play multi
  • Ephraim_DaltonEphraim_Dalton Senior Member Posts: 20,404Registered Users
    edited July 7

    1st problem is trebuchet. Army with trebuchet(s) should have travel distance reduced. Now army with cavalry only can travel further, so I think we can do something on army with trebuchet. 2nd, I think trebuchet should be a buildable unit and you could build it anywhere on the map with the help of a strategist and the level of a strategist affects how long it takes to build it (in friendly territory, you build it faster. near friendly settlement's zone of control, you get it the same turn like now).

    I do not see how strategist OP on other aspects though as I only play normal difficulty and dun play multi

    Strategist is stupid OP.

    Gives you the most powerful unit in the game (Trebuchet+bombshot). Gives you all ranged troops. Gives you formations. Removes supply as a mechanic from the army he's attached to. Also, cannot be challenged for duels, making him very slippery.

    Very poorly thought out I must say.

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