Yep, I agree totally. Annihilation battles are unholy trinity of bad for balance, bad for player progression and more unfun on the losing end than enjoyable on the winning side.
exactly. Also, it just bothers me as it does not make sense. There's quite few situations where a sensible human being would be willing to fight to the death, and even then those kinds of situations often warrant a very specific type of loyalty or religious fervor or something like that. At least to me personally, it just takes me out of the experience almost immediately, when the game forces me (as in my character) do a very dumb thing in a situation where there logically should have been more options available.
Also, implementing something akin to what I talked about, would make the battles more interesting by introducing goals within the battle. In literary world, that is known as a good battle scene, where the POV character has more goals in a battle than to just live and survive. In a game like this it could be something like, "kill enough of the enemy to make your escape", or "hunt down the enemy commander to damage the morale of the enemy troops," or perhaps even cause confusion by burning wood or oil to make the field of battle very confusing for the enemy" (something that Mongols for example did, and this would add some actual use to stuff like oil, for example)
of course, all these things would be voluntary, you don't have
to do anything other than just charge if you don't want to. I think that is the key. The game should not force you down a specific road or a set of roads, but instead offer you tools to utilize yourself. That would not only make the battles more interesting, but give the player so much more satisfaction when they made their escape, using their own plan and the tools that the game provided, instead of "oh I'm just going to click one button and leave the cream of my army behind to die for me. Bye"