Bannerlord Armor System as a bottleneck for tactical gameplay

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Taleworlds team and fellow Bannerlord fans:
I wanted to close out my second season of streaming Bannerlord with my thoughts on the current armor system. In 1.59 ranged damage is overwhelmingly strong. This strength creates a fight system where the ability to play tactically with a mixed army is mostly irrelevant, as mass ranged attackers (archers) will win virtually any fight without any use of tactics.

The root cause of this problem is the armor system and ranged damage calculations. Currently, armor only partially reduces damage from ranged attacks. Furthermore, enemies charging archers take bonus damage from the projectile's relative speed. Cavalry charging archers suffers even more, meaning that the unit that 'should' counter archers in a rock-paper-scissors manner actually just dies like flies to archers in most scenarios.

In my opinions battles would have more tactical depth if archers were a counter to unarmored targets but mostly ineffective against armor. There are two ways of making this idea work: 1. Ranged damage should be its own damage type with armor reducing damage along a sigmoid curve. 2. As a shortcut test, tier 5 melee units could have a 10% reduction from ranged damage (similar to the 175 bow perk), tier 6 units should have a 15% reduction from ranged damage, and heroes/lords could have a 20% reduction from ranged damage.

I want to acknowledge Taleworld's progress in addressing the ranged-dominant meta. Bow accuracy has been reduced and AI shieldwall usage has been vastly improved. Archers ARE worse than they were in 1.4.x patches. Based on my game experience the armor system bottlenecks the tactical potential of Bannerlord. Until the armor system receives a significant rework Bannerlord fights will continue to be winnable with the simple rule of 'build more archers and upgrade them more, sometimes take high ground'.

Thanks again to the Taleworlds staff for all your hard work on Bannerlord,


Sins
 

eddiemccandless

Knight at Arms
WBNWVC
Just in case you are not aware, there's a few thread in this forum that were brought up on the subject.



Second one in particular I think hits the nail on the head and offers some solutions to the problem. It's not just ranged damage, the overall damage model is kind of bonkers at this moment (see the second thread I linked for more details).

Good news is, devs are aware of this. For now we don't know if this is working as intended or not though.
 
"As mass ranged attackers (archers) will win virtually any fight without any use of tactics."

(y) Doesn't look like TW is interested in tactics at all though.
 
It's not gonna be any better if your high tier infantry and cavalry just get killed by recruits rather then archers :smile:
The armor and damage problems effect everything.
 
Man, I remembered using the Armor Does Something mod and just feeling the difference immediately. It really comes down to armour, nothing else. Buff that and we'll see meaningful change.
 

AlexTheCat

Regular
I don't understand. Maybe, someone can fill me in without hyperbole. I don't have a problem with troops getting killed by looters or recruits. Armor seems to make a difference with my MC. To be clear I usually use a shield wall with ranged on higher ground behind.
 

hruza

Knight at Arms
Taleworlds team and fellow Bannerlord fans:
I wanted to close out my second season of streaming Bannerlord with my thoughts on the current armor system. In 1.59 ranged damage is overwhelmingly strong. This strength creates a fight system where the ability to play tactically with a mixed army is mostly irrelevant, as mass ranged attackers (archers) will win virtually any fight without any use of tactics.

Try shieldwall tactic.

The root cause of this problem is the armor system and ranged damage calculations. Currently, armor only partially reduces damage from ranged attacks.

Armor only partially reduces damage of any weapon attacks. And that's the only gameplay wise implementation of armor that makes sense. You can't make armor ignore damage entirely.

Furthermore, enemies charging archers take bonus damage from the projectile's relative speed. Cavalry charging archers suffers even more, meaning that the unit that 'should' counter archers in a rock-paper-scissors manner actually just dies like flies to archers in most scenarios.

Just like French cavalry chagrin English archers at Crécy. Rock-paper-scissors is something out of the Total War games not real history. It may make some gameplay sense in RTS game but not in the FPS one like Bannerlord.

Ranged units were historically very effective against cavalry.

In my opinions battles would have more tactical depth if archers were a counter to unarmored targets but mostly ineffective against armor.

Archers are as effective/ineffective against armor as spearmen, swordsmen and axmen. And there is no reason why they shouldn't be.

Effectivity against armor is currently defined by type of the damage, not type of the attack: cut<pierce<blunt. And that's the only correct way of implementing it. There is no logical reason why arrow or bolt should be less effective against armor then spear.
 
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Apocal

Grandmaster Knight
I don't understand. Maybe, someone can fill me in without hyperbole. I don't have a problem with troops getting killed by looters or recruits. Armor seems to make a difference with my MC. To be clear I usually use a shield wall with ranged on higher ground behind.
Without hyperbole: armor in native Warband (and almost every mod thereafter) scaled up to 97-100% mitigation on damage. Right now, in Bannerlord the absolute best you can get in terms of mitigation is ~89%. Those numbers look fairly close but the felt difference is Bannerlord hits you about ten times as hard as Warband and most of its mods, assuming top-tier protection in both. See the complaints about looter rocks doing 9-12 damage instead of Warband's bandits hitting for 0-1 (leaning a lot more towards 0).

Combine with the fact that until recently it was extremely difficult to find top-tier armor in Bannerlord along with people using bands of looters as a replacement for the Trainer skill of Warband and you get a situation where armor doesn't feel as effective, because it isn't.

Of course, people engage in hyperbole and say stuff like armor does nothing in Bannerlord, but it's obvious that it does because when they put in blunt tournament weapons (blunt damage mostly ignores armor), everyone instantly noticed the difference.

The other side of the issue is that when archers can hit for anything other than trivial amounts of damage, a critical mass develops that will kill infantry before they get in melee range, reducing tactics to properly employing archers and very little else. The solution to every tactical problem is "more archers" or sometimes "use horse archers."

And that's kinda boring.
 
I don't think nerfing archers is the solution. Archers were pretty damn OP in their time.

I'm fine with archers but we need the means to eliminate them like ordering cavalry to charge...or actually having a flanking force that works.

RTS Camera does a remarkable job at this so I don't see why it can't be implemented in the base game.
 

hruza

Knight at Arms
I'm fine with archers but we need the means to eliminate them like ordering cavalry to charge...or actually having a flanking force that works.

The thing is, players don't have any problems with AI archers. It's player archers that are problem for the AI. Which shows that it's not a problem of the archers or the armor. It's problem of the AI.

Proper solution would be to "teach" AI to counter superior player archers (when player have superior archers) by sending infantry in shieldwall forward to engage while waiting and then sending cavalry to the flanks once infantry have engaged the enemy. Plus preferably making AI shieldwall to sort in with units with shields forward and units without in the back. AI armies contain lot of low tier units without shields and AI shieldwalls are therefore still quit vulnerable to masses of high tier player archers. It would also make life easier for the players as they would not need to separate their shieldless units in to their own group that they need to micromanage then in combat.

Also making high tier archers slightly less capable in hand to hand combat would probably help.
 

Saint Jiub

Sergeant
ai archers are a problem too, they just have army templates incongruous with the games mechanics and don't spam them like the player. everyone hates fighting khergit. its absolutely a problem with armor, narrow hp values, bloated raw weapon damage and speed modifiers. the issue goes deeper than just archers and has a negative influence on gameplay diversity generally. but you are right the ai should probably be smart enough to raise their shields and put them up front instead of getting turned into pincushions too.
 
I don't think nerfing archers is the solution. Archers were pretty damn OP in their time.

I'm fine with archers but we need the means to eliminate them like ordering cavalry to charge...or actually having a flanking force that works.

RTS Camera does a remarkable job at this so I don't see why it can't be implemented in the base game.
Read again a lot of the comments above. It is not about nerfing archers, its about buffing armor. They may sound equal but are 2 different things.
Man, I remembered using the Armor Does Something mod and just feeling the difference immediately. It really comes down to armour, nothing else. Buff that and we'll see meaningful change.
Yes.
 
Try shieldwall tactic.



Armor only partially reduces damage of any weapon attacks. And that's the only gameplay wise implementation of armor that makes sense. You can't make armor ignore damage entirely.



Just like French cavalry chagrin English archers at Crécy. Rock-paper-scissors is something out of the Total War games not real history. It may make some gameplay sense in RTS game but not in the FPS one like Bannerlord.

Ranged units were historically very effective against cavalry.



Archers are as effective/ineffective against armor as spearmen, swordsmen and axmen. And there is no reason why they shouldn't be.

Effectivity against armor is currently defined by type of the damage, not type of the attack: cut<pierce<blunt. And that's the only correct way of implementing it. There is no logical reason why arrow or bolt should be less effective against armor then spear.
Please refrain from attempting to argue from history if you don't understand the topics and aren't willing to provide citations. If you want an example of arrows vs armor in the 11th century you chose a very poor one.

The players don't have a problem with AI archers because AI armies are 20%ish archers and player armies are 60-80% archers. I believe you are misunderstanding my point. I am not complaining that the enemy AI archers are hard to deal with. I am complaining that I can make an army of 100% ranged units, line them up on a hill, smash my face into my keyboard and win almost any reasonably close fight in the game.

Why would I use a shieldwall formation? I'd have to bother training infantry to do that. The AI shieldwall is super easy to deal with. I split my archers into two groups, creating enfilading fire. Since the AI is dumb and advances in shieldwall I can just kite them with group A while group B of archers slaughters them from the flank.

Where did I say that armor should totally ignore damage? Nice straw man attempt. I said that armor should provide greater protection against ranged damage than it currently does.
I don't understand. Maybe, someone can fill me in without hyperbole. I don't have a problem with troops getting killed by looters or recruits. Armor seems to make a difference with my MC. To be clear I usually use a shield wall with ranged on higher ground behind.
Try making an army of 100% sharpshooters/imperial crossbowmen and see how easy the game gets. There's no hyperbole here. Ranged damage (piercing) literally ignores a large portion of armor (https://forums.taleworlds.com/index...t-doesnt-work-and-how-to-make-it-work.426296/) This means that melee AI (including most heavy cav units) will die before they are able to reach a player massing archers.
 

WNxSpectre

Recruit
Taleworlds team and fellow Bannerlord fans:
I wanted to close out my second season of streaming Bannerlord with my thoughts on the current armor system. In 1.59 ranged damage is overwhelmingly strong. This strength creates a fight system where the ability to play tactically with a mixed army is mostly irrelevant, as mass ranged attackers (archers) will win virtually any fight without any use of tactics.

The root cause of this problem is the armor system and ranged damage calculations. Currently, armor only partially reduces damage from ranged attacks. Furthermore, enemies charging archers take bonus damage from the projectile's relative speed. Cavalry charging archers suffers even more, meaning that the unit that 'should' counter archers in a rock-paper-scissors manner actually just dies like flies to archers in most scenarios.

In my opinions battles would have more tactical depth if archers were a counter to unarmored targets but mostly ineffective against armor. There are two ways of making this idea work: 1. Ranged damage should be its own damage type with armor reducing damage along a sigmoid curve. 2. As a shortcut test, tier 5 melee units could have a 10% reduction from ranged damage (similar to the 175 bow perk), tier 6 units should have a 15% reduction from ranged damage, and heroes/lords could have a 20% reduction from ranged damage.

I want to acknowledge Taleworld's progress in addressing the ranged-dominant meta. Bow accuracy has been reduced and AI shieldwall usage has been vastly improved. Archers ARE worse than they were in 1.4.x patches. Based on my game experience the armor system bottlenecks the tactical potential of Bannerlord. Until the armor system receives a significant rework Bannerlord fights will continue to be winnable with the simple rule of 'build more archers and upgrade them more, sometimes take high ground'.

Thanks again to the Taleworlds staff for all your hard work on Bannerlord,


Sins
Shield wall should provide more effective protection from archers for footmen, and I agree that cavalry should be strong verses archers, but should be weak verses spear formations. I suggested elsewhere adding a braced formation command to tell spearmen to plant their spears to the ground in an anti-cavalry spear wall formation. This would be great if it could be combined with other formation shapes such as line shield wall and circle (making a historical cavalry spear crown formation that was frequently used to good effect to deter cavalry).

Archers should be strong, arrows were highly effective weapons historically, but I agree that fast moving spear and sword cavalry should be an effective unit verses them, especially if you can flank them. Bowmen should be effective verses mounted archers, my own current battle testing shows a strong bias in game towards mounted units.
 

WNxSpectre

Recruit
Please refrain from attempting to argue from history if you don't understand the topics and aren't willing to provide citations. If you want an example of arrows vs armor in the 11th century you chose a very poor one.

The players don't have a problem with AI archers because AI armies are 20%ish archers and player armies are 60-80% archers. I believe you are misunderstanding my point. I am not complaining that the enemy AI archers are hard to deal with. I am complaining that I can make an army of 100% ranged units, line them up on a hill, smash my face into my keyboard and win almost any reasonably close fight in the game.

Why would I use a shieldwall formation? I'd have to bother training infantry to do that. The AI shieldwall is super easy to deal with. I split my archers into two groups, creating enfilading fire. Since the AI is dumb and advances in shieldwall I can just kite them with group A while group B of archers slaughters them from the flank.

Where did I say that armor should totally ignore damage? Nice straw man attempt. I said that armor should provide greater protection against ranged damage than it currently does.

Try making an army of 100% sharpshooters/imperial crossbowmen and see how easy the game gets. There's no hyperbole here. Ranged damage (piercing) literally ignores a large portion of armor (https://forums.taleworlds.com/index...t-doesnt-work-and-how-to-make-it-work.426296/) This means that melee AI (including most heavy cav units) will die before they are able to reach a player massing archers.
I tested 500 Battanian top tier archers vs 500 man imperial mixed army 25% spread across all types, and the archers were decimated over the course of the battle. Particularly the mounted cavalry just tore the archers to bits. My impression is that the game favors mounted units very heavily and I usually in my campaign always field a near 100% mounted force for that reason.
 

WNxSpectre

Recruit
Effectivity against armor is currently defined by type of the damage, not type of the attack: cut<pierce<blunt. And that's the only correct way of implementing it. There is no logical reason why arrow or bolt should be less effective against armor then spear.

There is a reason. I suggest that you look at the effect of the slanted angles of steel armor. The French were able to make armour that used angles to deflect the impact of pointed arrows. Such angles can be effective at deflecting arrows, even at fairly close range.

Also an arrow due to its relative low mass does not carry the concussive force of a polearm that uses leverage to accelerate the distant striking end to high speeds as it covers more more distance than the gripped end in the same length of movement time, along with high mass to exert high concussive force upon striking the foe. People could suffer concussion from these strikes and even steel armour could be dented or even punctured from these strong blows. Often Knights would be rendered unconscious or otherwise struck down from concussive blows.
 

hruza

Knight at Arms
Please refrain from attempting to argue from history if you don't understand the topics and aren't willing to provide citations.

Please take your advice and stick it to yourself.

If you want an example of arrows vs armor in the 11th century you chose a very poor one.

On contrary, I choose great example: French cavalry charges English archers, French cavalry die, your argument about rock-paper-scissors goes up in flames. Hence your desperate personal attack above.

The players don't have a problem with AI archers because AI armies are 20%ish archers and player armies are 60-80% archers.

Try forest bandits. 100% archers.

I believe you are misunderstanding my point. I am not complaining that the enemy AI archers are hard to deal with. I am complaining that I can make an army of 100% ranged units, line them up on a hill, smash my face into my keyboard and win almost any reasonably close fight in the game.

Just confirms what I said. Problem are not archers or armor, problem is AI.

Why would I use a shieldwall formation? I'd have to bother training infantry to do that.

Because you already bother to play the game.

I split my archers into two groups, creating enfilading fire. Since the AI is dumb and advances in shieldwall I can just kite them with group A while group B of archers slaughters them from the flank.

See? Just confirms what I said. Problem are not archers or armor, problem is AI.

Where did I say that armor should totally ignore damage? Nice straw man attempt. I said that armor should provide greater protection against ranged damage than it currently does.

Which makes no sense. Arrow is no less effective against armor then a spear.

Try making an army of 100% sharpshooters/imperial crossbowmen and see how easy the game gets. There's no hyperbole here. Ranged damage (piercing) literally ignores a large portion of armor (https://forums.taleworlds.com/index...t-doesnt-work-and-how-to-make-it-work.426296/) This means that melee AI (including most heavy cav units) will die before they are able to reach a player massing archers.

I would do that if I wanted to exploit AI. Once again, problem is AI not archers or armor. By nerfing archers, you would just cripple AI even more then it already is. Right now player at last have an option not to exploit AI while having AI archers that pose at last some threat. After your suggested changes, it wouldn't matter. AI archers would be dead weight incapable of posing any danger to the player.
 
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hruza

Knight at Arms
There is a reason. I suggest that you look at the effect of the slanted angles of steel armor. The French were able to make armour that used angles to deflect the impact of pointed arrows. Such angles can be effective at deflecting arrows, even at fairly close range.

Armor that deflects arrows will deflect spear points in the same way. There is no reason why not.

Also an arrow due to its relative low mass does not carry the concussive force of a polearm that uses leverage to accelerate the distant striking end to high speeds as it covers more more distance than the gripped end in the same length of movement time, along with high mass to exert high concussive force upon striking the foe. People could suffer concussion from these strikes and even steel armour could be dented or even punctured from these strong blows. Often Knights would be rendered unconscious or otherwise struck down from concussive blows.

Arrow might have less mass but it have more velocity then spear. Bow is literally a spring that is used to store energy and propel projectile more effectively then bare hand would.

Kinetic Energy is the energy an object has owing to its motion. In classical mechanics, kinetic energy (KE) is equal to half of an object's mass (1/2*m) multiplied by the velocity squared.

Which is why modern military rifle bullet will pierce more armor then a spear, despite having fraction of it's mass.

Plus depending on type or arrow and spear, arrowhead is smaller in a cross section then spear head requiring less energy to punch through the same armor.
 
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WNxSpectre

Recruit
Armor that deflects arrows will deflect spear points in the same way. There is no reason why not.



Arrow might have less mass but it have more velocity then spear.

Kinetic Energy is the energy an object has owing to its motion. In classical mechanics, kinetic energy (KE) is equal to half of an object's mass (1/2*m) multiplied by the velocity squared.

Which is why modern military rifle bullet will pierce more armor then your spear, despite having fraction of it's mass.
Good points and good discussion.

Arrows were highly effective indeed, and they should be highly effective in game.

This said they didn't deliver large concussive force. You are not going to knock out a heavily armored opponent with blunt force impact from an arrow, it just isn't going to impact forcefully enough. Arrows penetrate because the force is localized and channeled to the pointed tip, which is why a sharp pin requires little force to push through your hand. Bullets have vastly greater velocity (breaking the sound barrier) than an arrow and even then soldiers are often able to maintain consciousness after a strike to the head that glances off and does not penetrate their helmet, although admittedly they do sometimes get knocked out as well and a barrage of such strikes to a helmet will knock out or even kill a soldier, it is decidedly harder to deliver such a barrage via arrows that are not as impactful. With the advent of later heavy armour Polearms were purpose built to do just this, deliver repeated blunt force and spiked strikes to armour that can deliver trauma to the wearer without even having to puncture the armour. You could knock them down or kill them without ever having to find a means of penetrating their armour. Knocking them out was also advantageous because important knights could then be ransomed. It was often favorable not to kill well armored opponents because it was known that they were wealthy and could be valuable as prisoners.

When shot at an arch the velocity of the arrow has an upper limit and even at close range where the transferred force of impact will be the largest, angled steel armor can deflect arrows very well by transferring the energy in another direction. Angled armor deflected those arrows directing them so that they did not pierce. So although arrows deserve respect in the game as the extremely deadly weapons they are against less armored opponents, heavily steel armored opponents with angled armor should be largely protected from them, just as the French heavily armoured knights were against the English long bow. The long bow devastated the lesser equipped common troops not fortunate enough to own such armour. There is some controversy regarding how well the English Long Bow could actually breach heavy armour at close range, some say it could, others are very skeptical of that, but the English long bow was a very effective weapon.
 
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