There have been a lot of discussions on cavalry and how they are too weak, which they are, but not as bad as some people make it out to be. With the Beta cav patch I have seen a worrying amount of evidence that it has gone way too far into buffing cycle charging, including cav being able to cycle charge spears cost effectively. This thread is not directly about the beta patch but more about what I believe should be the logical principles of balancing cavalry.
The principle is simple – charging heavy knights head on into full HP infantry should be a disaster. Shock cavalry should function as the name suggests – deal devastating damage on impact (the shock) and either shatter the infantry, or suffer significant casualties. 45 heavy knights are not nimble, logically speaking they cannot charge in, get surrounded by enemy infantry and then pull out like nothing happened. They are too heavy for this and while turning they would be presenting their flanks and back for easy attacks.
How heavy cav should work? They should identify opportunities where their shock is sufficient to annihilate the enemy and use their superior speed to force these engagements. For example, charging into infantry with 1/3 HP by full health knights should instantly destroy the infantry without the knights taking any damage. Charging into the back of infantry that is engaged in combat should be equally devastating and be a disaster to the player who allowed their infantry to be charged in the back.
At the moment it is all a mess, infantry charge is bugged so cav charging even into low HP units take too much damage. Charging into the back of infantry seems to deal similar damage compared to charging head-on, while it should be 2x-3x more realistically speaking.
However, cavalry can still pick their engagements due to their superior speed. As such, they are still useful. By contrast, if cav becomes over tuned then there is nothing that the infantry can do to avoid a head on charge. This results in this illogical mess where cav charge into a fricking full HP infantry wall and the only “counter” to this is to counter charge with your own cav THROUGH your units.
This is the worst-case scenario for the game in my view, charging through multiple lines of friendly infantry, somehow not damaging the friendly units and then somehow landing a charge on the enemy cav. After this, enemy knights and their horses carrying 150kg+ (rider + armour + weapons) manage to rotate within all this mess and retreat like nothing happened.
Summary: CA if you are going to treat the infantry charge as a bug and fix it using a workaround, then please treat cavalry being able to retreat after a charge without taking damage as a bug too (and fix it). Rotating your horse with 150kg worth of stuff on top of it while being surrounded by infantry should result in significant damage to the knight.
Also, being able to charge through friendly units and have comparable damage output to charging enemy units in the back should be considered a bug too while we are at it.