Ok, so the title is a bit vague, but I really don’t know how summarize this as a title so let me explain here in detail what I mean:
Cycle charging with SEM’s (and to a lesser degree, cavalry), the relative under-performance of spear/halberd/infantry anti-large melee units against their intended targets, the lackluster nature of charge defense (something Duck said is being looked at, admittedly, but still a problem) and the ease of dodging artillery/non-bullet projectiles by fast SEM’s has been problematic for a while now. While this discussion has been examined multiple times in the past, there hasn’t been much in the way of a solid solution to the problem (or at least not one that garnered general approval).
In this latest patch, CA made an interesting change for the Dwarfs, the race that generally suffers the most from these problems, with the change to RoW&R; it seems clearly designed to help the dwarfs deal with high mass, fast cycle charging units (mostly chariots, but also from SEM’s) by slowing them down severely (allowing the slower dwarfs to capitalize on them with counters). This, in addition to the cost reduction for foot lords across the board (and increases in mass, melee stats, and chance to ignore knockback for some particularly underperforming lords), seems to have partially rekindled discussion of these topics, though in different contexts (i.e. currently there is a thread discussing whether or not SEM’s and chariots will be worth while vs the dawi anymore, and a second not too long ago was discussing the pros and cons of foot lords).
While I think the buffs to the foot lords are justified, I don’t believe that the changes to W&R will actually solve the underlying issues: it may very well help with SEM or Chariot play vs the Dwarfs (and I'm not interested in whether or not the change to the rune is good or bad overall: that is what the other thread is for), but the overarching problem of cycle charging overperforming, artillery/non-bullet projectiles being dodged on the approach, and the dwarf’s reliance easily-negatable charge defense are all still problems the moment the runes are on cooldown or if the dwarf player doesn’t bring a runesmith of some kind. Moreover, while it helps the dwarfs specifically, a game-wide solution for these problems would be preferable. I have one to suggest on this front.
Thinking over these problems, I think I have identified the commonality between them that is the problem: large, fast units are able to decelerate, change directions, and then accelerate back to their high speed too quickly. This, I believe, is the underlying issue that leads to the afore-mentioned problems: cycle charging is overly-effective because the monster/heavy cav can hit and run before the unit they hit gets the chance to retaliate effectively, anti-large melee units and charge defense vs large tend to under perform because of how precisely and quickly cav can change directions and out-maneuver these units (either by coming in from the side, slipping past them to the units they’re guarding, or forcing them to move to defend the unit and getting a free charge in which can allow them to just push straight through), and dodging long-range, non-homing, and/or non-bullet missiles is rather trivial due to the speed at which large monsters (and cavalry, save for flat-arc artillery) change directions.
The problem identified, the solutions is rather simple: reduce the turn speed, acceleration, and deceleration of all large units by an amount relative to their mass and/or speed. For example, skirmish/light cav might have each reduced by 10-15% (making the unit take ~1/4th to ~1/3rd more time change opposing directions), whereas heavy cav might have a decrease of 33% or more for each (resulting in almost double the amount of time needed to completely change directions) and larger monsters like sphinxes, dragons (in the air somewhat, but most notably on the ground), and mammoths would have such stats reduced by even more (personally, I’d advocate for whatever results in 3 times the duration to change directions, but that might be extreme). Please do not take these numbers as set in stone: as stated in prior posts, I’m not that great at determining the best balance for any particular unit, so these numbers might be overkill or not nearly enough for units in each category. They are examples to illustrate the concept and how to go about with this change: nothing more. I also say mass and/or speed because I’m not absolutely certain which one (or a combination of both) would be best to base the reductions to acceleration/deceleration and turn speed on.
The results of the changes on balance, so far as I can conceive, would be as follows:
- Cycle charging with SEM’s, Chariots, and cavalry would become weaker: once charged in, units will take longer to turn around, resulting in more time for melee units to make contact and do damage (chariots might be less effected, as they are generally supposed to pull through a unit, but it would still reduce their ability to ping-pong between units effectively). Furthermore, the changes to acceleration, deceleration, and turn speed would mean that these units would be more vulnerable to missile fire and artillery (though with artillery it would not be a significant change for cav, as cannons and the like still hit them relatively effectively). Note that this would not eliminate dodging entirely but render it significantly less potent. If the change would result in these units become too weak, a buff to their charge bonus would help mitigate the significant increase in risk when charging (encouraging a playstyle that rewards smart and calculated charges rather than constantly cycling charges).
- Anti-large units and units with charge defense will become more potent against their intended targets, both because it will be harder (but not impossible) for cavalry/fast SEM’s to out-manuver such infantry and because any charges against them, even when unbraced, will result in the cavalry taking some degree of damage (relative to the quality of the unit).
- Skirmish cav and, by extension, skirmish builds will be weaker because they will be more vulnerable to hounds, pincer attacks, and standing archers. Likewise, skirmish mode will not guarantee the safety of said units if ambushed/pincered. This being said, they will be the least-affected group here and the nerf can be mitigated by careful/skillful play, so it is doubtful that this will push either the skirmish cav or skirmish play out of viability.
- Slows and nets could either see less play or more play: the two scenarios I see are either a) people bring nets and slows less because they are needed less to capitalize on monsters/cavalry, or b) people bring more of these because they will expose the target for even longer and could result in easy gooning of said targets. If the former happens, I doubt it will be an issue. If the later occurs, a decrease in the number and/or power of slows and nets might be in order (a propositions that I think many would like).
- Slower SEM like giants would be more effective and useful due to the decreased effectiveness of other SEM's and the riskier nature of charges.
- Charging with large units in general would become more risky, as a missed charge or charge into a non-isolated unit will result in counter-charges from enemy monsters/cavalry.
In any case, these are my thoughts on how to solve these long-running issues in the game. Let me know what yall think or if I've got something wrong/am misunderstanding something.
Tl;dr: The over-performance of Cycle charging, the power of SEM's in general, the relative under-performance of anti-large melee infantry, the relative ineffectiveness of charge defense vs large, and the ease of dodging can be solved by making large units accelerate/decelerate and turn slower relative to their mass and/or speed.