A list of many battle improvement suggestions

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I love this game. It's a great joy to jump into an ongoing campaign and find a large battle to fight in. However, large-scale battles can be annoying right now. Not because of the scale, but because of bugs or lack of content/features. The lagging that happens when troops spawn in (mostly during sieges) just breaks the immersion. I think the reason for this is the group spawning where after a threshold is met, suddenly dozens of units will spawn in at the same time, and if the battle is going poorly for one side, then you get multiple groups of many units spawning in right next to you, causing lag. The two problems I see is the spawn count and the spawn locations, both in sieges and field battles.

This had me take a break from playing for a bit, to watch and read others' experiences with the game. So after 400 hours of this game first-hand, plus dozens of hours of others' experiences, here are a list of suggestions I think would improve the game greatly.

For sieges;

  • Alter the defender-to-attacker ratio.
It seems the attackers outnumber the defenders at the start with 90-to-10 (probably not that bad, but that's how it seems from player perspective), which makes sense for realistic reasons, but what happens is that sieges are almost always successful from the player's perspective. Especially if the defenders are just militia and the attackers are tier 4 or higher units. I would suggest a 60/40 split attackers/defenders. This would mean the walls are more evenly defended.​

  • Make the spawns trickle in, 1-to-1.
For every 1 killed, a replacement spawns in (first of the same exact unit type, then when that unit type is depleted, another type replaces it). Move the spawn zones for this. Attackers will spawn in the camp (which I believe is already the system), defenders at different zones based on how the battle is going. Then alter the pathfinding both sides take so that they don't all go in a single-file line to the fighting. This will make sieges much more exciting because now all the fighting won't be just on the walls, but you can have sporadic small unit action throughout the city.​
To add to this, Add invisible zones to the city. For example, once enemy forces have breached the gates and the walls and are now on the streets, then defender AI will not rush to the walls and gates but instead to defend the streets, spawning in at the keep instead of in the middle of the city. Once the attackers are approaching the keep, the defenders will defend the keep and will spawn in right next to the keep and dungeon doors (if the dungeon is far from the keep, then this will create some spread out fighting for the attackers to worry about, which I think is a plus). Once a zone is lost, then instead of trickling in, the already-spawned defenders will reorganize into small groups and move throughout the streets or the walls of the keep, providing tougher opposition for attackers. The new zone will then start trickling in reinforcements again. The objective is the control of the zones, so the defenders will not try to retake a forward zone until a rear zone is secured. Attackers however will do the same (once a zone is won, the freshly-spawned-in attackers will organize outside of the camp and then march into the city to break up the monotony of reinforcements coming in).​
The two sides will also allow cavalry to spawn on horseback if the wall zones are taken by the attackers. So you can have cavalry battles inside of the city. A brilliant defender with high morale can use this opportunity to trap the attackers inside the city with infantry while using cavalry to sally out and harass the enemy camp (risky and almost guaranteed death, but it looked amazing in LOTR). Leading to some amazing fighting inside of the city, but also could lead to some incredible sally-out fights near the siege camp. The goal with my suggestion is the make sieges seem like very desperate struggles for attackers and defenders. Not all the time, but when the defenders have good numbers and are well-prepared. The spawn changes here will still make huge armies/parties absolutely annihilate conscript defenders with small numbers.​

  • The defenders should not accidentally sally out during an attack (battle level, not map level).
I know this happens sometimes in history, but it happens every single time in the game. The towers get up to the walls, and the defenders flood onto the platform and climb down the ladders. It looks ridiculous, especially since the towers are sometimes bugged and only one or two attackers go up them at a time. They should stay within the walls, and within the gates. Maybe when a retreat is ordered by the attackers, the defenders can try to follow them into the camp, but then this should only be if defender morale is really high. Perhaps this could lead to a new battle action, where the attackers have to defend their camp and if they lose the siege is broken and they suffer many prisoners and a huge cohesion loss.​

  • Sieges happen in waves.
There is no going back to the map during waves. Choose how much of your party/army you want to commit to the first wave (you can commit all forces to a single wave, but run the risk of a complete route if there is an uncontrolled retreat and your camp gets overrun). Then if you either order a retreat back to camp, your numbers are exhausted, or low morale causes the AI to retreat on their own and the defenders don't chase you back to your camp, the wave ends in failure. There is a morale loss for the attackers and a boost for the defenders, small but enough to make a difference over time. Repeat for multiple waves.​
Keep the siege consistent since you're not going back to the map level. Destroyed walls stay destroyed, destroyed gates stay destroyed, siege towers and rams stay at their location and maintain consistent health levels including for units, bloodied units stay bloodied, the only change is remove arrows stuck to units and armor (it would be amazing if in the future bandages and wounds were added) and items are replenished (ammo, dropped items, destroyed shields). This would be great if you ordered a retreat at the first wave to offset the slow march getting the siege engines to the walls, so in the second wave you can rush to the ram/towers.​
Imagine sending in a first wave of low-morale tier 1 units, and they all break and retreat on their own before the ram gets to the gate. So in the second wave, you choose to send in veterans and elite units, who rush up to the ram and finish the job. The waves slowly advance the time of day. So a siege that starts in the morning could potentially end at night - at which point if you haven't won then you go back to the map to regroup and rest, and allow for time to advance on the strategic level.​
If your siege equipment is destroyed and you want to build more before the end of the day, you'll have to end your attack to go back to the map, and will take a cohesion loss hit. But it will not break the siege. This can simulate lulls in sieges for opposing sides to gather their dead and wounded, and allow for negotiations or trickery.​
  • Siege towers should fill up before the ramp is dropped.
Right now siege towers are bugged. The AI pathfinding on them is terrible. I think both a temporary solution and a permanent feature should be that the ramp doesn't drop until the top is full of units. I feel like around 6 is full - two ranks of three (three ladders behind them). Right now the first soldier to the top drops the ramp, and because the pathfinding on towers is bad, often times there's only 1 attacker vs a full wall of defenders. And what do the defenders do? They flood the tower and climb down the ladders or just yeet themselves off the top of the tower. It's comical, but by a dozen sieges, becomes annoying.​
If the tower has its own AI where it waits for the top to fill, then this has an added bonus where there will be a bunch of soldiers climbing the tower waiting to replace the first wave of fallen. It also means that a vigilant defender can wreck the tower and kill a bunch of attackers in one brilliant move. Sieges are too easy to win as an attacker right now, even with the AI set to do realistic damage. So I don't see a destroyed tower as a problem. It makes the fighting more intense. This also makes it very rewarding to fight back an AI siege tower as the player, and standing at the top of the ramp chopping the AI down after a pitched fight at the wall, instead of being greeted by one very foolish soul when the ramp drops. The player doesn't have to be limited by this design, and can open the ramp without waiting. This is purely for the AI. The AI defenders should also only be allowed on the top of the tower in limited numbers. I would say 3 would be the limit, as there are 3 ladders.​

  • Add small walls that can be easily scaled.
For castles, make the default wall tier 0 for many castles throughout the map. These can obviously be upgraded over time by either player or AI, but the main defense will be the keep and the gate, which itself will be a very weak inner-gate that can destroyed with just weapons. The small walls can be slowly climbed by individuals at great risk to themselves, or tier 3+ units can leapfrog off each other over the walls (one soldier with their back to the wall using their hands as a stepping ladder for another to climb over them, maybe even varied animations where another soldier gets on their hands and knees allowing comrades to use their back as a jumping point). The walls have very narrow and very short ledges for defenders, and are not ideal for defending because attackers can just jump down and slash at them from the ground. The walls can be lined with spikes allowing only certain areas for units to leapfrog, but allow all areas to be slowly climbed by hand.​

  • Ability to designate what jobs attackers/defenders have, as well as who we are deploying.
Similar to the above suggestion of sieges happening in waves and who we choose for each consecutive wave, let us choose who we deploy and what they're assignment is. We can assign certain troops who are better armored and trained for using the tower, and certain troops who won't be as crippling as a loss for breaching a gate that is well-defended. Which troops we want manning the catapults. Which troops we want manning ladders. Then we can also assign backups who will wait behind cover so when that gate is breached, those well-armored troops can rush in to widen the gap at the city gates, or those less-armored troops can bolster the numbers of those who are attacking the walls. Even the ability to designate which units will follow you.​
Defenders can designate that they just want skirmishers and archers on the walls, with infantry and cavalry at the gate (who can move to relieve archers and skirmishers at the walls if there is no enemy ram, and then move back if catapults manage to breach the gate anyways).​

  • Add a new weapon, a small ram.
A handheld ram that requires too people to use. Cheaper ones are just blunted wood, then there's more advanced ones such as those that are tipped or have a ram's head, etc... Takes up two weapon slots. Give to your companions or equip yourself for breaching the inner-gate of cities. When you or the AI equips it at the inner-gate, the nearest ally comes to help you use it on the door. Coupled with the ability to designate which party is the gate-breaching party, those equipped with the ram can breach inner-gates much faster than trying to tear it down with handheld weapons. Balance by raising the resistance of inner-gates to handheld weapons. Maybe even make it so we can build a few handheld rams during the map-level siege stage for such a party to automatically pull out at the inner-gate and drop when it is breached.​

  • Animate the closing and opening of the gates.
I dislike how after spending so much effort and risk to get to the gates from the walls, and open them for my forces to flood through, one silly militia boy jogs up to the gate and it instantly closes. Make it an animation that can be interrupted, either opening or closing. And make it animated for each door. So once they're done closing one door, they have to go to the other side and close the other, and then latch it. If there are multiple units, then they can close/open it together, making it faster. If the door isn't latched, make it so a unit can use their shoulder to push the doors open instead of hacking at it with weapons.​

For field battles;

  • Surround the red edges of the map with a faction-colored zone.
This will be the spawn zones. The current system where they spawn in the middle of the fight looks goofy and can be gamed very easily (just rush to the middle of the map and you win). There will be a north-south-east-west based on what direction your side starts facing. The faction-colored edges will start evenly split, one half being your side, the other being the AI side. The zones will follow an invisible line based on where the majority of your units are behind, and the line can slowly turn into a cone over the course of the battle.​
As the battle goes on, reinforcements will spawn in their faction-colored zones, with infantry/archers/skirmishers spawning in south behind their allies facing north towards the enemy, and cavalry units trying to spawn in on the east or west side facing the flanks of the enemy. As the battle progresses, the spawn zones shrink for the losing side, and grow for the winning one. If east and west are completely taken by one side, then cavalry units will have no choice but to spawn in the south facing the north.​
You'll want to maintain control of the fighting as much as you can, because if the majority of your forces chase one group of the enemy's forces, then they can simply turn the tide by outmaneuvering you and "coning" the spawn zones in their favor, leaving you with only the bare minimum where your forces spawn pure south. A simple version of this is just implementing the main spawn zone on each side, but that's not as exciting - but could be a great stop-gap while the AI is tweaked for a full edge spawn zone.​
  • Control the spawn zone to force a victory or draw.
This is kind of like capturing the zones in multiplayer, however the capture zone is the small zone that is your enemy's south spawn (which would be your side's north). The capture zones have a health bar. If one side manages to outnumber the other on the capture zone, then the health bar will start emptying. If all enemy forces on the zone are eliminated, the health bar will start refilling. If the health bar is fully depleted, that side stops getting reinforcements even if the edges of the map are still not controlled by the enemy. Any forces that didn't enter the fight are considered retreating if the battle is lost.​
The red zones stay untouched, anyone who goes into the red zone is considered retreated. If you lose your spawn zone, you have to either capture the enemy spawn and force a draw in the battle (neither army/party retreats back on the strategic map, and is not counted as a win or a loss for either side), or hope to inflict enough casualties to send the enemy into a full retreat.​

  • Spawn in one unit at a time.
Unlike sieges, however, the units will spawn into a group formation. And then when that formation reaches its optimal number, the group moves out of the spawn zone into the fight. This will hopefully eliminate lag and freezes when large numbers of units spawn in at the same time. Unlike sieges, do not make it 1-to-1. Make it something like 3-to-1. For every 3 killed, 1 will spawn in (like my siege suggestion, same unit type until depleted).​
This will reward players and AI who can outmaneuver the enemy, making it rewarding to turn the tide against your enemy and a struggle to regain momentum once lost, which is realistic. This also makes it less likely than an enemy army will be annihilated in a single battle, which can still happen but not as often. The units will be fully spawned in, and can defend themselves, but can't be given orders until the group is completed. Something like modern-day platoon size. They automatically are assigned to whatever unit-type they're predesignated as (if you set them as infantry/cavalry/skirmishers/etc...) and will automatically move to join the ranks they're replacing.​
  • Ability to send messengers to call in specific types of reinforcements.
This will be very time-consuming, but can be the difference between death by attrition or victory. The rider/runner will need time to exit the map, and then there will be a bit of a wait as those reinforcements are organized. This also can be done by the enemy, based on the AI's skill level. So you need to watch for enemy messengers because if you kill them then you can potentially turn the tide of a battle. If a messenger dies, a new one must be sent but there is a cooldown period for that ability. Messengers have to be chosen by interacting with the unit. Which I'll follow with,​
  • Interact with individual units in a battle.
"You there, follow me!" or "Soldier, man the wall!" etc...​
  • Bring the deployment ability from sieges into field battles.
Doesn't need any further explanation.​

  • Ability to set traps on the campaign map.
You see that caravan you want to raid coming down the road. Or hear word of the enemy army moving and your expert tracker knows exactly what route they will be taking. You are skilled in tactics and have the ability to hide your forces. You hide in the woods and wait to ambush your target. The enemy army is not at all prepared for the fight, and while trying to get the rest of their forces armored and in position to fight back the ambush, you begin the slaughter of their vanguard, or maybe you chose the rear... or perhaps you decided to wait until you saw their lord for kidnapping/death.​
The chances of critical failure and success are there based on your skills and abilities, vs. your target who may also have grown up doing the same kind of roguery you're attempting against them and so can see all the signs and weaken your efforts. If the ambush is successful, then you can limit the fighting to a certain number of the enemy's forces. Or if it was only slightly successful, then you have extended time before reinforcements start arriving. If it was a complete failure, then you can find yourself surrounded and unable to retreat without taking heavy casualties.​
Another feature this would allow is hiding from armies chasing you. Going into areas where there are movement bonuses for you but detrimental to your enemy, such as woods or snow, will increase your chances of successfully hiding. While staying in open fields and having already been spotted by the enemy will greatly decrease it.​

For both types of battles;

  • AI should stop all pathfinding when an enemy is within a certain distance.
When the AI decide to move somewhere, then it doesn't matter how many enemy forces are near them and how near they are to them. They keep moving to that location. They'll swing, shoot, and defend, but won't stop moving to where they wanted to when they spawned in, or when they targeted a new enemy. The AI should prioritize targets close to them on an absolute scale. All other objectives should be made 0% while nearby enemies made 100% priority. This way formations will fight formations, but will still have a few stragglers who break formation.​
This should be most notable in sieges, because as it is now, the AI will run through an entire shield wall or gate breaching party just to target one enemy. It should be that nearby enemy is the priority, which while that enemy is nearby all other priorities are put to absolute 0. When no enemies are nearby, then their priorities can normalize back to whatever they are (defend this wall, defend this gate, etc...).​
The player can have more control over this, but ultimately player-controlled troops will still prioritize nearby enemy as a threat to them. An added bonus here can be that once nearby threats are eliminated, then the AI should reset its pathfinding and perhaps become a smarter opponent for the player. I feel like even in field battles the AI can get too focused one on place or target and ignore the gaping holes in their lines.​

  • Implement fatigue.
This doesn't need a big explanation, but here are some thoughts. Make it so the AI, based on what tier they are, will handle stamina better. Veteran forces (tier 3+) will hold back more (walk instead of run when at a certain distance from the enemy or its objective, not swing wildly and use bash more often), while green forces (tier 2 and tier 1) will be more naive and run until right up to their target, swing wildly, etc..​
Stamina slowly refills, but over the course of the battle gets permanently lowered until a certain threshold. This will simulate soldiers getting so tired they can barely swing their swords or hold up their shield. Low fatigue will then cause morale to drop, leading to tired troops who are ready to call it a day. A fresh troop of motivated tier 2 can be deadly to an exhausted troop of tier 5. However, the AI will also take into account what type of battle is going on. In a field battle that's just starting, the AI will more often walk or quick pace instead of run. But in pitched fighting, sieges, or hideout battles, the AI will run more often than walk or quick pace.​
Again, each unit type makes a different decision, but these factors will weigh on those decisions. It would be amazing for fatigue, morale, and siege waves to all be fully implemented into the game. Having tired and miserable troops stay behind for a few waves to regain strength and courage.​

  • Add the ability to do a feigned retreat.
This requires skill unlocks and characters with more roguery and tactics will perform more convincing feigned retreats, but also will be able to recognize one done against them and better control their forces when the opponent does a feigned retreat. A feigned retreat can be controlled more thoroughly than an actual retreat. You can direct your forces to fight back if they are being struck at, you can tell them to fire at will so an AI unit will occasionally stop in place to fire a shot (unless horse archer which case they just keep shooting), you can direct them where to retreat to, etc...​
The downside is that it is still disorganized, just not as a complete retreat. So it will result in casualties and will take time to regroup. But you can have them lead the enemy into a trap. During a feigned retreat, certain unit types - with low discipline/tier or very high morale and low skilled commander for high discipline/tier units - will be very likely to break ranks and chase a feigned retreat. This turns them into disorganized units, and will take time and effort to control and regroup. It can lead to disaster for either party, as it is a risky move but can make the difference between breaking a sturdy line or being broken upon it.​

  • Implement a pacing order.
Similar to advance to enemy vs. charge. Make walking the default pace, with an option to order quick pace or run. The player can order this, but the AI will have to calculate the distance of its objective and the time it will take to walk there, and if it falls below a certain threshold, then it can raise the pace to quick or run to get there as fast as it can without losing too much stamina. This will be a nice change for the player who has to spend the first few precious seconds spamming commands because we have yet to have the ability to organize our forces before the battle starts. Which brings me to-​

  • Organize our forces before the battle starts.
Like hideout raids, except with far more control (unit formations, numbers, etc).​
  • Expand on morale.
When too low or too high on morale, the AI should make poor decisions. High morale is great, but for example at Hastings 1066, for some reason the shield wall gave up their high ground to charge into Norman lines, and got slaughtered for it. The party morale before the battle started should set the threshold for morale in the field/siege of individual units. Couple it with unit experience, so tier 3+ units will be less prone to making poor decisions while tier 1 and 2 will easily route or break formation to chase a fleeing enemy. This can make feigned retreat potent, like it did at the Battle of Hastings.​

  • AI should walk when an enemy is nearby.
I can understand militia and low tier units running around wildly swinging their arms, but it looks so terrible, and really looks weird with fully-armored opponents. Couple this with a weight system where someone wearing heavy armor will be less likely to run to save on stamina.​
  • Ability to take pre-battle actions.
Both by the AI and the player. During a siege, no longer will the path for towers be filled out for you, and ladders waiting for you at the walls. You now have to take a pre-battle action to fill in a moat, lay out a path for the tower, clear obstacles for the ramp, and send out a vanguard to place the ladders at the walls. It can be costly. Will you designate inexperienced low-tier units for this task to save the brunt of your veterans for taking the walls or breaching the gate? Then they may take multiple attempts before they can do it, they may fail and cause your party morale to plummet and cohesion to drop. If you use your veterans, then you may risk losing many of your best-skilled soldiers before the fighting even starts.​
If you decide not to take a pre-battle action as a siege attacker, then you'll have to watch/help your soldiers carry the ladders to the walls, very slowly as big targets for the archers. Or help fill in the moat for your towers to cross. Or help clear the obstacles for the ram so it can get to the gate. This may be the best choice for a small siege vs few and inexperienced defenders, but not to be attempted unless suicidal in anything larger than that.​
As a defender, you can lay traps as a pre-battle action. Or maybe you'll try to sneak out some forces at night and sabotage their siege equipment. Or maybe assassinate the enemy lord (If you don't want an honor drop, then maybe kidnap them instead and use them as leverage to lift the siege). Or maybe you'll sneak in some reinforcements, or you're the attacker sneaking in some troops who will open the gates for your forces. Perhaps you're King Henry V and you decide to wait for the rain and set up spike traps for cavalry while hiding your infantry in the woods and using archers behind more spikes as a de-facto siege defense. This, coupled with my above suggestion for setting ambushes can lead to very unique types of battles.​
  • Control over AI lords/companions in your army.
If you're their lord, and they're in your army, you should have more control over them. Including at the end of the battle, when casualties are divided up - that shouldn't be a thing, the prisoners should all go to the army leader. It's your army and it's your empire/kingdom/whatever. They should go to you (don't get me started on having prisoners ransomed from you without your consent - ugh).​
  • Add horns, drums, and banners.
I don't want to use mods this early in development, but I see others using horns and banners and I'm getting jealous. Ability to control who gets what banner would be great, just like the mods.​

  • Improve physics for weapons, armor, and shields.
Like the above suggestion, there are some great mods for this that I would love to see implemented into the game. These mods make it feel like striking an enemy is less springy - or the opposite - lightsaber-like.​

That is all I have for now. I'm loving 1.5.4, and looking forward to when education is implemented. Thank you TaleWorlds for an amazing game. 2020 gave us Bannerlord, so it's not that bad of a year. I have almost 400 hours into the game, and I don't see that slowing down anytime soon. Obviously these ideas all come from experience within the game, and I can't wait to see how you people flesh out the game past Early Access stages. I am not one of those who are disappointed in the game at all. Sure there are annoyances and features I'd like implemented/removed, but even if this game never changed beyond today, I'd play it for years to come. Thank you, TaleWorlds.

PS: Please bring sailing and naval action to the game in the future. I want my pirates to raid trade ships or my navy to bypass a coastal city's walls. Or just plain, good, old ship-boarding action.
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