Another spear thread + few ideas how to "fix"

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Bluko88

Sergeant
As the October release is quickly approaching, there's one issue in particular that rather irks me. And that is the usefulness (or lack there-of) with spears/pikes on foot.

On horseback, yes, polearms are generally your best melee option. Couched lances deal tremendous damage, and even simple spear thrusts at high horseback speeds deal reliable, if not lethal, damage. Add in the extended reach and it's pretty much a given you'll want to use polearms on horseback.


The problems arise when you attempt to use a spear/pike on foot. Let's be clear: swinging polearms (glaives, billhooks, menavliatons, etc.) are just fine on foot, if not a bit overpowered due to their ability to often one-hit kill. They are kept somewhat in check by the fact swings require a lot of free space, and the swing speed is sort of slow and predictable. So no beefing up is needed for those.

BUT thrusting spears and pikes are practically useless on foot. They have some utility in their ability to stop cavalry by stunning them, and it's bit easier to land hits on the rider as well. Though most any two-handed weapon in this game is effective for anti-cavalry use. Now spear bracing was added for pikes some updates ago, and this greatly boosts their anti-cavalry function, but outside of initial cavalry charges it isn't that practical to use. Even in the hands of the player spear bracing is difficult to make use of given the chaotic nature of battles and the fact it requires you to remain static.

So here's fix #1: Allow pikemen to move slowly (walk speed) while braced
cmeZbhf.png


Edit: Apparently this already possible for players by toggling walk - just the A.I. can't use it


Here's the thing; you can already turn while braced - so the argument you need to completely stationary is a bit mute. Yes realistically you need a spear planted in the ground to truly stop a horse. And while Bannerlord might have some pretensions of being a "simulator", it's ultimately a game first and foremost that needs elements of "rock, paper, scissors" to it's combat to keep it balanced, engaging, and fun.

Allowing pike braced entities some mobility would greatly boost their utility as anti-cavalry. As is the Vlandian Pikeman is quite literally probably the worst unit in the game since most Shock Troops are better at anti-cavalry or at least decent enough in melee infantry combat. Vlandian Pikeman are so poor in both regards that I consider it a "trash" unit i.e. you should never use it in-game.


If nothing is done to make pikes more effective, particularily with the A.I., I wholeheartedly believe the Vlandian Pikeman should be removed from the game.


So that addresses the anti-cavalry issues. However pikes and spears are still quite a liability on foot against infantry. Now yes as melee weapons they do have the benefit of greater range than swords and axes. However since combat in-game isn't really all that formation based you are never going to make ideal use of pikes/spears. Now while I believe in 1v1 situation a swordman/axeman should generally have the advantage over any spearman - it shouldn't be guaranteed victory.

So here's fix #2: Allow thrust-only polearms to perform a knockback sweep (in place of kicking)
w7nTwxs.png


So whenever an entity is using a thrusting-only polearm in both hands, allow that unit to perform a stationary sweep attack with the opposite end of the pole. Any foot troop caught in the sweep should be knocked down. Full-disclose I'm NOT a weapons expert, so this sort of move may be complete "fantasy". But again since Bannerlord isn't really a simulator I believe gameplay > realism still stands.

The problem in-game is while a spearman may be able to land a hit against a charging enemy, more often than not the enemy will still advance and reach the no-strike zone of a spearman and basically have free reign to hack them down. Unless they are also a spearman, in which case you get a lot of awkward attack attempts.

I'm not a multiplayer guy so I can't say whether this sort of attack would be balanced. But again given spears slow thrusts and the large no-strike zone I have to believe it wouldn't be that problematic. Plus to me it seems really silly to perform any sort of kick while using a spear... the whole reason you use a spear/pike is so enemies don't get that close to begin with.


So we've addressed pikes limited anti-cavalry, and pikes/spear uselessness in melee. But what about one-handed spears i.e. spear and shield? Without a doubt this was likely the pre-dominant kit of most medieval infantrymen, certainly the ancient world. So if spear and shield was so widely used, why is it so terrible in Bannerlord? Now to be fair: I'm sure spears were widely used due to the fact spears are relatively cheap weapons, and it's much easier to train someone to use a spear versus a sword.

Now yes simply having a shield does greatly help one's survivability in Bannerlord; since you can block projectiles and melee strikes. The problem again here is as soon as swordsman/axeman/horseman is close enough you cannot thrust your spear. And that's a reasonable limitation. The problem is the spearman has no other means of defense other than to perform perfectly timed shield bashes, which don't really give much of a strike opportunity anyways.


So here's fix #3: Allow spear and shield units the ability to brace
gADo8SI.png


Instead of simply dangling one's spear while a shield is up, entities should be able to brace their spear head near the shield. This would both punish aggressive cavalry as well as other infantryman. Spear and shield bracing ideally would work similar to my suggestion of reformed pike bracing i.e. entity would be limited to walking speed while bracing this way. Also the damage multiplier would be no where near that of pike brace, actually probably shouldn't be any damage multiplier at all. It's simply a defensive stance spearmen with shields can adopt so they aren't completely defenseless in close quarters.

So there's my little essay. Yes I hate cavalry that much.
 
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Zerosaiko

Knight at Arms
Technically it is already possible to move while braced, though the AI doesn't do it, just the player. I did it in some Vlandian / Imperial tournaments in 1.8. You have to use caps lock to go into walk mode instead of running, and your brace doesn't get canceled by walking. The feature exists, the AI just doesn't use it, at least not as far as I know. No clue about the other stuff though.
 

bestmods168

Sergeant at Arms
pikes were really cool in MP. had like over 40 people playing, then the server shut down. bummer. it was really fun and evenly matched.
 

Grank

Master Knight
WBNWVC
One of the biggest issues with spears is that the AI is too brave. In real life, spear is hard to deal with because you don't want to get stabbed, so entering that range is scary, but once you get past the spear point, spearmen generally become useless, as is already the case in the game. However, the AI is brave enough to just take the hit and bonks the spearman to death. RBM AI fixes this issue, but it still has others, like armor.

Another thing, spears don't have a collision that prevents the enemy from entering. You can just hold up your shield and walk forward. In reality, you have a little bit of press on top of that fear factor. In Bannerlord, AI just throws itself against the enemy in a meat-grinding fashion.
 
Easy way to fix spears and other thrusting attacks is by making the attack do damage upon contact of the tip with an enemy or a shield, rather than thrusting attacks only dealing damage at the end of the animation. iirc, stab only polearms already have a handling stat, this can be used to calculate damage based on the timing of the stab animation; if you stabbed too early, you couldn't put enough weight behind your attack therefore dealt less damage. I believe this is essentially what the spear fix mod does already. One additional thing is increasing the length of pikes to at least 300 to give the units an edge over horsemen. Also, they should make all braceable polearms 2 handed, It's not like being able to brace with shields would give much protection aside from exactly 90 degrees to the left of the unit anyways. Making them all 2 handed would at least make the spear brace much less buggy.
 
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Bluko88

Sergeant
Technically it is already possible to move while braced, though the AI doesn't do it, just the player. I did it in some Vlandian / Imperial tournaments in 1.8. You have to use caps lock to go into walk mode instead of running, and your brace doesn't get canceled by walking. The feature exists, the AI just doesn't use it, at least not as far as I know. No clue about the other stuff though.
Well I'll be... you're right! Feel pretty stupid now, though I don't recall it mentioned anywhere?

dunce-cap-e1483743767757.png


Still stand by the fact the A.I. should definitely use it though. Time to edit my original post.

One of the biggest issues with spears is that the AI is too brave. In real life, spear is hard to deal with because you don't want to get stabbed, so entering that range is scary, but once you get past the spear point, spearmen generally become useless, as is already the case in the game. However, the AI is brave enough to just take the hit and bonks the spearman to death. RBM AI fixes this issue, but it still has others, like armor.
Calradian troops make medieval samurai look like chickens, running into enemies with readied weapons, even casually standing around ladders while archers shoot them with arrows. (I suspect Shokuho will do very well with the current game engine, since shields are a large part of why actual balance is so difficult in this game.)

All joking aside the A.I. really needs to have some kind of life preservation behavior, especially Lords/Captains.

And an other easy swipe left for Taleworlds.
Ah yes the new Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
tenor.gif


Easy way to fix spears and other thrusting attacks is by making the attack do damage upon contact of the tip with an enemy or a shield, rather than thrusting attacks only dealing damage at the end of the animation. iirc, stab only polearms already have a handling stat, this can be used to calculate damage based on the timing of the stab animation; if you stabbed too early, you couldn't put enough weight behind your attack therefore dealt less damage. I believe this is essentially what the spear fix mod does already. One additional thing is increasing the length of pikes to at least 300 to give the units an edge over horsemen. Also, they should make all braceable polearms 2 handed, It's not like being able to brace with shields would give much protection aside from exactly 90 degrees to the left of the unit anyways. Making them all 2 handed would at least make the spear brace much less buggy.

Yes having any "raised" thrusting polearm effectively work as bracing does now would help spears. (Obviously the damage multiplier would be much less.)

It's just absurd you can charge a spearman with so little risk of damage. Even more trivial when you've got a shield.

Yeah I should give that mod a try - this one right?
 

Zerosaiko

Knight at Arms
Well I'll be... you're right! Feel pretty stupid now, though I don't recall it mentioned anywhere?
I'm not sure if it was mentioned anywhere, the most I remember is some multiplayer video talking about fighting without a shield? Technically someone could stumble across it if they went into walk mode with a braceable polearm, but I doubt walk mode gets enough use for people to notice it.
 
Yes having any "raised" thrusting polearm effectively work as bracing does now would help spears. (Obviously the damage multiplier would be much less.)

It's just absurd you can charge a spearman with so little risk of damage. Even more trivial when you've got a shield.
I meant it more in the vein of the hit registering when the tip of the weapon makes contact regardless of the timing of the hitting animation. imo, making all spears work like how bracing works would not work because bracing uses the weight and the speed of the enemy against them by planting the tail end of the weapon to the ground.

Idk how a wall of spears can become dangerous to approach though. It might be better to discuss this after the release patch where the unit collision and formation AI will be hopefully improved.
 

Takazul

Regular
Now that troops won't be mosh-pitting as much (or so they claim in their release statement), any guesses on how this might affect the efficacy of spears? The gif they released seems like troops keep formation and DISTANCE much better. Might be good for spear!
 

Madijeis

Sergeant
WBNW
At this point writing spear threads is just practice to write your university thesis. Cool changes, would love to see them, never will.
 
While I didn't particularly see any changes to spear troops' usefulness in 1.9 (I didn't really watch out for it though), there's in general a very big upgrade to the AI's awareness, especially in sieges. You can't just go to towards the archer nest after getting on the walls anymore, a few infantry units will follow you if you split up, and archers will now react to you getting near them and change to melee to defend themselves. I haven't tested how reinforcing units react while you're in their way to their destinations. Morale is also much better now in my experience and I haven't noticed any jittering after the patch.
 

xdj1nn

Knight at Arms
WBWF&S
Technically it is already possible to move while braced, though the AI doesn't do it, just the player. I did it in some Vlandian / Imperial tournaments in 1.8. You have to use caps lock to go into walk mode instead of running, and your brace doesn't get canceled by walking. The feature exists, the AI just doesn't use it, at least not as far as I know. No clue about the other stuff though.
well, that could be fixed by simply forcing walk while braced and adding either a cancel input or just leaving attack as a cancel input (as is). It's a no brainer really.

As for other types of bracing I agree those should be in the game, no questions asked.
As the October release is quickly approaching, there's one issue in particular that rather irks me. And that is the usefulness (or lack there-of) with spears/pikes on foot.

On horseback, yes, polearms are generally your best melee option. Couched lances deal tremendous damage, and even simple spear thrusts at high horseback speeds deal reliable, if not lethal, damage. Add in the extended reach and it's pretty much a given you'll want to use polearms on horseback.


The problems arise when you attempt to use a spear/pike on foot. Let's be clear: swinging polearms (glaives, billhooks, menavliatons, etc.) are just fine on foot, if not a bit overpowered due to their ability to often one-hit kill. They are kept somewhat in check by the fact swings require a lot of free space, and the swing speed is sort of slow and predictable. So no beefing up is needed for those.

BUT thrusting spears and pikes are practically useless on foot. They have some utility in their ability to stop cavalry by stunning them, and it's bit easier to land hits on the rider as well. Though most any two-handed weapon in this game is effective for anti-cavalry use. Now spear bracing was added for pikes some updates ago, and this greatly boosts their anti-cavalry function, but outside of initial cavalry charges it isn't that practical to use. Even in the hands of the player spear bracing is difficult to make use of given the chaotic nature of battles and the fact it requires you to remain static.

So here's fix #1: Allow pikemen to move slowly (walk speed) while braced
cmeZbhf.png


Edit: Apparently this already possible for players by toggling walk - just the A.I. can't use it


Here's the thing; you can already turn while braced - so the argument you need to completely stationary is a bit mute. Yes realistically you need a spear planted in the ground to truly stop a horse. And while Bannerlord might have some pretensions of being a "simulator", it's ultimately a game first and foremost that needs elements of "rock, paper, scissors" to it's combat to keep it balanced, engaging, and fun.

Allowing pike braced entities some mobility would greatly boost their utility as anti-cavalry. As is the Vlandian Pikeman is quite literally probably the worst unit in the game since most Shock Troops are better at anti-cavalry or at least decent enough in melee infantry combat. Vlandian Pikeman are so poor in both regards that I consider it a "trash" unit i.e. you should never use it in-game.


If nothing is done to make pikes more effective, particularily with the A.I., I wholeheartedly believe the Vlandian Pikeman should be removed from the game.


So that addresses the anti-cavalry issues. However pikes and spears are still quite a liability on foot against infantry. Now yes as melee weapons they do have the benefit of greater range than swords and axes. However since combat in-game isn't really all that formation based you are never going to make ideal use of pikes/spears. Now while I believe in 1v1 situation a swordman/axeman should generally have the advantage over any spearman - it shouldn't be guaranteed victory.

So here's fix #2: Allow thrust-only polearms to perform a knockback sweep (in place of kicking)
w7nTwxs.png


So whenever an entity is using a thrusting-only polearm in both hands, allow that unit to perform a stationary sweep attack with the opposite end of the pole. Any foot troop caught in the sweep should be knocked down. Full-disclose I'm NOT a weapons expert, so this sort of move may be complete "fantasy". But again since Bannerlord isn't really a simulator I believe gameplay > realism still stands.

The problem in-game is while a spearman may be able to land a hit against a charging enemy, more often than not the enemy will still advance and reach the no-strike zone of a spearman and basically have free reign to hack them down. Unless they are also a spearman, in which case you get a lot of awkward attack attempts.

I'm not a multiplayer guy so I can't say whether this sort of attack would be balanced. But again given spears slow thrusts and the large no-strike zone I have to believe it wouldn't be that problematic. Plus to me it seems really silly to perform any sort of kick while using a spear... the whole reason you use a spear/pike is so enemies don't get that close to begin with.


So we've addressed pikes limited anti-cavalry, and pikes/spear uselessness in melee. But what about one-handed spears i.e. spear and shield? Without a doubt this was likely the pre-dominant kit of most medieval infantrymen, certainly the ancient world. So if spear and shield was so widely used, why is it so terrible in Bannerlord? Now to be fair: I'm sure spears were widely used due to the fact spears are relatively cheap weapons, and it's much easier to train someone to use a spear versus a sword.

Now yes simply having a shield does greatly help one's survivability in Bannerlord; since you can block projectiles and melee strikes. The problem again here is as soon as swordsman/axeman/horseman is close enough you cannot thrust your spear. And that's a reasonable limitation. The problem is the spearman has no other means of defense other than to perform perfectly timed shield bashes, which don't really give much of a strike opportunity anyways.


So here's fix #3: Allow spear and shield units the ability to brace
gADo8SI.png


Instead of simply dangling one's spear while a shield is up, entities should be able to brace their spear head near the shield. This would both punish aggressive cavalry as well as other infantryman. Spear and shield bracing ideally would work similar to my suggestion of reformed pike bracing i.e. entity would be limited to walking speed while bracing this way. Also the damage multiplier would be no where near that of pike brace, actually probably shouldn't be any damage multiplier at all. It's simply a defensive stance spearmen with shields can adopt so they aren't completely defenseless in close quarters.

So there's my little essay. Yes I hate cavalry that much.
I got a beef with your statement: I personally find (since EA start) that swingable polearms are objectively a billion times more efficient than lances or spears on both horseback and on foot.
If you doubt it, try running a "knight" and swap your trusty lance for a glaive - it's insanely more effective and versatile.
My beef with the game is that only 2h axes carry AoE functionality - that to me is a party ruiner... On top of your suggestions I'd also add that the game NEEDS poleaxes (aoe functional polearms) and polemaces (aoe functional + blunt dmg) - I remember when they allowed briefly to craft hammer heads onto polearms, that was awesome - the removal of that was very questionable though. Ideally, I'd add the ability of AoE to all weapons too, it's not like you can really hit 2 targets with a 60 length mace, but if they are crumpled into a small space and you get blocked by shields behind your target, it'd be only fair to actually hit both targets.
 
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CrazyElf

Sergeant
As the October release is quickly approaching, there's one issue in particular that rather irks me. And that is the usefulness (or lack there-of) with spears/pikes on foot.

Try the mod Spears Reworked.

To be honest, that's what I would like to see in the base game. A buff to speed and damage to spears is what is needed.



Edit: Link:

 
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