Many thanks to Signalize and all involved in this thread, a lot of constructive discussion to be had on these topics. I'll echo the comments of Olympeus, which I find to be utterly on-point.
Archers (bowmen specifically).
Foot archers are definitely too strong in my experience, and based on the feedback in this forum so are horse archers. I personally limit my use of foot archers because they are too good, and make the game too easy and less engaging on even the hardest settings. Some ideas in no particular order:
- Improved enemy AI. Making changes to how the enemy AI deals with the players archers will greatly affect their utility. I'm sure people much smarter than me are working on this and can figure out what is practical & possible so I won't waste time with my suggestions.
- Re-balance their melee skills. A cursory examination of the archers melee combat skills and athletics skills will tell you these are on par with their infantry counterparts. Why does a Tier 1-6 Archer have the same combat ability as their Tier 1-6 Infantry counterpart? Fight an archer in the Arena and watch them be a bad ass with all variety of equipment. It makes no sense. As a general rule Tier 6 archers should have no more than 30 in any melee combat skill and lower Tier archers should just have 0 skill in melee. Every archer being able to go toe-to-toe with an Imperial Elite Menavliaton is silly.
- Re-balance their athletics and equipped armor. Archers should have 50 athletics and if they are given heavy armor (which they should not have) they will move like a turtle. If Archers are given a higher athletics score, it should first and foremost still be significantly lower than the infantry, but coupled with much lighter armor their movement speed will still be higher than the infantry. All Archers, especially the Tier 6, should have their armor removed and replaced with much lower armor values. The units that should rarely die to arrow fire are heavy infantry/cavalry. The units that should always die to arrow fire are the archers and to a lesser degree lighter infantry and light cavalry and their mounts. Currently archer on archer battles with the AI result in 0 casualties for the player because the Tier 6 archers are so heavily armored. Archer on Archer battles should ALWAYS result in heavy casualties with winner being decided by the unit with 1) better range 2) better bow skill 3) higher rate of fire. Crossbowmen can be the exception to the armor and melee combat rules to some degree as they are expected to only fire 1-2 volleys before the infantry close and they are in hand-to-hand combat. A bowmen should be able to empty their quiver before the Infantry close and then their only defense is to run.
Foot Archers are absolutely dominant in the game's current meta as a result of their exceptional damage and passable performance in melee. For any faction, you can make 100% archer armies (don't even have to be top-tier) and demolish any balanced, equivalent-strength opposing AI army. This has been fully tested by your playerbase already, trust us. I've played endgame armies of every faction, as have many, many of the regulars on these forums - it's a great game, we've played it a lot! Archer effectiveness, relative to melee, is just too damn high.
Olympeus' first point here is correct: better AI can reduce the relative potency of archers in Bannerlord's battles. But I classify that as one of the tougher goals - building better AI modules is not a quick fix, and I really think the playerbase would appreciate a prioritisation of impactful quick fixes while you work on longer-gestation projects like AI. So I still urge the developers to nerf archer damage (and increase ammunition) so balanced compositions can have a place in the current incarnation of the game.
Please also note: the armour and melee capabilities of some archers (e.g. Vlandian Sharpshooters) is so high, they're practically a functional frontline. A lot of the gear/troop stat changes we seek do not require slow, cautious fine-tuning by the devs because some of the current values are painfully far from correct. Why does a T4 Sturgian Spearman have worse body armour and head armour than a T3 Sturgian Soldier? We don't need the dev team to identify the perfect piece for that unit; we just need the basic progression paths to make sense, which is a much smaller ask. With their high Athletics, it's conceivable to run a 100% archer army, split it into 2 (or more) and just kite the enemy infantry blob till it's all dead. That is my gripe: it should not be strong, let alone a dominant strategy, to run a 100% archer army, yet it is. There needs to be a drawback.
As a reminder of how influential archers should be to warfare of the era, take the Battle of Crecy. English forces:
3000 hobelars (light cavalry / mounted archers)
So, a 36% ratio of foot archers in one of the most notable displays of medieval ranged dominance. All I'm asking, for the good of the game's balance and historicity: 80%-100% massed archer armies should not be a smart thing to do.
Faction Troop Strength.
There is a forum post that discusses Faction Troop Trees
and has many thoughts including my own. I think the troop tree for every faction would feel much more diverse if every faction didn't have access to a Tier 6 of of every troop type. Give every faction 1 troop type that goes to Tier 7 and is better than any other faction's version of that troop and then give every faction 1 or 2 troop weaknesses and cap those troops at Tier 2 or 3. The rest of the troops would be Tier 5. For example:
- Sturgia: Tier 7 Infantry and Tier 2 archers.
- Battania: Tier 7 Bowmen and Tier 2 cavalry.
- Khuzait: Tier 7 Horse Archers and Tier 2 infantry.
- Aserai: Tier 7 missile cavalry and Tier 2 something else.
This is close to my thinking when I say extremising faction strengths and weaknesses. Even if it's milder - just a very potent T6 for strengths, and a troop tree clipped at T4 for weaknesses - that already would force players to contemplate how best to play each faction, and may spawn further discussion about the game's faction balance and how to introduce meaningful (rather than largely cosmetic) replayability via the faction system. Right now, that isn't even a consideration because no one really needs to do anything but train archers and horse archers.