Blunt Damage and Sturgian Infantry

Are Sturgian Inf Too Weak?


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Gibby Jr

Marquis
It became abundantly clear in week 1 and 2 of BEAST 7 that Sturgia is hardly fit for purpose at the moment. It is outclassed in both infantry and archery by almost every other faction. Forsee's stats make it plainly obvious that something is seriously wrong with the balance of the faction in Skirmish at the moment - particularly as Sturgia is supposed to be a strong infantry faction. The relevant weeks of BEAST counted in this data have Sturgia played on 3 different maps, 2 of them being closed maps. If Sturgian infantry were strong and properly balanced, as they are supposed to be, then we'd have seen much higher winrates for them.

I wonder if sturgia can win at least 20% matches against aserai with decent players
I guess no since it has about 35% total wr in mm and probably even less in beast
Theres a fun statistics, sturgia wr has negative correlation coefficient with player skill level according to current beast stats, so it looks like that
Div A: 27%
Div B: 33%
Div C: 38%
Div D: 41%

Sturgian infantry are weak compared to other factions primarily because of how useless their heavy infantry are. This is due to a number of factors:
1) Maces are extremely effective against them. I don't know the exact figure for how much armour blunt damage ignores but it is clearly too strong. Anecdotally, I would regularly be hit for 30-55 damage by maces as a Varyag, meaning I am guaranteed to die in 2-3 hits. This is inappropriate for a heavy infantry, particularly one that costs 160 gold - meaning that you can only afford one life as this class on round one. In contrast, Aserai infantry can afford 3 lives with maces on round one; there is no question that they decimate Sturgia with little difficulty. It's still 2-3 hits for the Varyags to kill the Tribal Warriors, while the latter enjoy the same level of damage but with greater movement speed.

2) Varyag axes are too long. One of the biggest strengths of the Khuzait Heavy Mace (78 length, widely considered one of the best 1h weapons in the game) is that it is quite short, meaning that it's easy to hit with the actual head of the weapon to achieve maximum damage. The Aserai Mace (77 length) is also short and easy to score maximum damage with. These are much shorter than the Raider Heavy Axe (91 length) and the upgraded Noble Axe (96 length). While length can be useful to infantry, you do not always have the luxury of backing off or angling your weapon perfectly to achieve the full damage potential of your weapon. Instead, you can find yourself whacking light infantry, like the Aserai Tribal Warriors, for 10-20 damage with the wooden part of your weapon - while they can much more easily return several times that damage despite the fact you are playing heavy inf. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I think reducing the length of the Sturgian axes and/or slightly increasing the size of the axe heads would be the major buff they need to make their damage much more consistent.

3) Sturgian infantry cannot access maces on any of their classes, meaning they have little to counter opposing heavy infantry. Compare the Sturgian Varyag to the Vlandian Sergeant:

VaryagSergeant
Cost160160
Movement Speed8080
Armour4045
Improved Armour4954
Armour (Sergeant Mace Perk)N/A49

The Sergeant cannot access improved armour if they choose to take a mace, but taking the mace perk actually gives them an extra +4 armour. This means that a Sergeant with a mace has the same armour as a Varyag with improved armour - the major difference being that the former has now equipped themselves with an anti-heavy inf weapon, while the latter has an axe which, while having very high base damage, is much less effective against armour. The Varyag is clearly outclassed by the Sergeant in combat. The Sergeant also has an axe perk, meaning they can diversify their options to be better against light infantry (this axe is only a tiny bit worse than the main Varyag axe) while still having greater base armour than the Varyag.

The Vlandian Sergeant is clearly better than the Sturgian Varyag despite the troops being the same cost. This is a major problem because Vlandia also sports strong ranged and cavalry options, while Sturgia has almost nothing in the way of ranged options. I cannot speak for the precise comparative strength of the cav classes, as I do not know enough about that, but as far as I am aware they are roughly even in strength. So, Sturgia completely lacks the ranged strength of other factions while having weaker heavy infantry.

4) Sturgian Warrior is weaker than alternative 100 gold infantry classes. Again, there is no mace option (as a note, I don't think maces should be on every faction as there should be differences between them. However, with how effective maces are against armour currently, access to maces is largely what determines how strong a faction's infantry options are). Their base axe is trash but the sword they can access is good, better than the Kaskara of the Aserai Tribal Warriors, though their base armour is lower and their passive perk options are weak across the board. This is not necessarily a bad thing - Aserai Tribal Warriors should be stronger than alternative options as they are the main inf class for the faction - but it means that Sturgia cannot rely on the Varyag or Warrior classes to handle Aserai infantry. They also have a small shield which is easy for archers to shoot around.

5) The Brigand is a strong option because of its javelins and low cost (110 gold). It is the go-to for players on Sturgia after they run out of gold for Varyags and many people choose to use it wherever possible to get 3 lives. The base axe is weak, as are their alternative perk weapons, but they have decent harassing capability and can match up against other factions well in melee if given the opportunity to loot better weapons from the ground. I don't think there's much wrong with this class and it's a solid choice, it's just difficult to play against heavy infantry with an axe that does less damage than some other faction's maces do.

Suggestions:
1) Reduce blunt damage effectiveness across the board (buff to all heavy infantry but to Sturgia in particular as they do not have blunt weapons).
2) Increase base Sturgian Varyag armour by 1-2 and their improved armour by 1-2 to put it more decisively above the Empire Legionary while still being below the Sergeant.
3) Make it easier for Varyag axes to use their maximum damage, ie. reduce the length of the axes and/or increase the size of the heads. This will buff them considerably against both light and heavy armoured targets, though the buff against low armour may be significant enough that the axe's base damage needs to be decreased slightly.
4) If none of the preceding changes are to be implemented, lower the Varyag cost from 160 to 150 so that double lives can be used on round one. This would at least make them more cost efficient and less affected by gold imbalance if the Sturgia side is losing.
5) Make the Warrior's passive perks slightly better and potentially give them a better starting axe. They have a 57 damage starting axe, the same as the Brigand (which logically should have a worse starting melee weapon than the Warrior), while having weak perks and a tiny shield which is easy for archers to shoot under or around. These 3 weaknesses together make the class difficult to find a use for. In my opinion at least two of these three aspects should be buffed, while one should be ignored so as to not make the Warrior better than the Aserai Tribal Warrior.

Some of these things may sound like they'd excessively buff Sturgia, but keep in mind Sturgian infantry are supposed to be the strongest in the game. They have almost nothing in the way of ranged options because their infantry are supposed to be strong enough to account for that. At the moment that just isn't the case.
 
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Einarcf

Master Knight
M&BWBWF&SNWVC
I agree with much that is said. Unsure if making Warrior stronger will encroach too much with Aserai 100 gold unit "faction philosophy".

(I will also day dream about Hunter having chain mail and true hybrid unit, but I understand that this could end badly)

Making blunt dmg less potent could also curb Aserai a bit, they are too strong. Battania would have to be done another way.
 

Krisee

Sergeant
Good suggestions for improving Sturgia.
Nerfing blunt damage in general as you said is especially a good suggestion. As it is ridiculous at this point. Aserai 100 gold spawn is often able to hit harder than what is supposed to be an elite infantry unit.
Maybe even remove mace from Aserai 100 gold spawn, and add spear/weaker sword perk instead -> change spear perk from second choice to something else.

In my opinion at least two of these three aspects should be buffed
I think suggestion 1 and 3 are the best and would help the most
 

Zdzichu

Sergeant at Arms
you forgot to add that you can't chain attack with an axe if you do less than 50 damage but with a mace or a sword you can do it whenever you want
 
Finally someone speaking out against the BS Varyag. It simply sucks, I am a cav player and I have noticed a distinct disadvantage of Sturgian Varyag is simply not good for their price anymore. Used to be one of the best or best infantry debatably now its just a joke heavy inf.
 

flashn00b

Sergeant
I wouldn't say that blunt weapons themselves are a problem. Rather, Sturgia's lack thereof is.

As far as 100 cost units go, I think the Sturgian Warrior is in a better position, though I still can't say i'm in agreement with the Spearman perk only giving a 174 reach polearm.

I think the following changes would be welcome:

Replace Sturgian Short Spear with a 185 reach polearm
Since all cavalry units have upgraded from the medium length Spear to the Long Spears of their respective factions, I see no reason as to why they should be screwed over in terms of weapon reach, with the Khuzait and Battanians having access to pikes, while the Aserai have multiple low-cost anti-cav options in the form of the Tribal Warrior (Jawwal's spear) and the Skirmisher (185 Reach spear)

Blunt weapons for the Brigand and Hunter
As far as melee combat is concerned, the Brigand's at an uncomfortably close second to the Imperial Recruit to having the worst melee options in the game. The Sturgian Shortsword's barely an upgrade from the Woodsplitter Axe, which is already a pretty mediocre weapon. I'd go as far as to say that you're actually better off dropping your Woodsplitter Axe and pressing X with the throwing axes if you wanna engage enemies in melee. For the Brigand, I'd probably make the Sturgian Shortsword the "Improved Armor" weapon so as to still make throwing axe melee an option, but you'll at least have a more passable weapon to defend yourself if you opt for Javelins or a Throwing Spear.

This is where a Mace perk can come in... Okay, maybe not a proper mace since we're still talking about a low-cost unit, but I can probably see some utility in giving a javelin class some form of a studded baton to help fight against armored opponents at the expense of having a thrusting attack.

As for my suggestion on giving the archer a mace, this is mainly due to the Sword and Shield perk mostly being a downgrade from the default Raider Axe. Yes, I can understand needing to downgrade the bow for balancing purposes if you want protection from ranged attacks, though the default axe is actually much better than the sword that the shield comes with. I think the melee weapon upgrade needs to be rethought based on the stat differences between Sturgian Sword and Raider Axe.

Return of the Bastard Axe (Varyag)
Okay, I can understand TaleWorlds not wanting all heavy infantry to feel very same-y but the stat differences between the Noble Axe and Raider Heavy Axe actually seem pretty negligible to me, much to the point where I think it's pretty redundant to offer the Noble Axe as a "Better Weapon" perk. Suppose it might be worth it to have a two-handed weapon perk available for the Varyag again, though since TaleWorlds seems pretty convinced that it was overpowered in Captain Mode, I guess the Captain Mode equivalent could in fact just be a mace for balance purposes.
 

Hans 77

Knight at Arms
WBWF&SVC
I don't know the exact figure for how much armour blunt damage ignores but it is clearly too strong

Unless it's been tweaked without my knowledge, blunt damage ignores an astounding 100% of armor -as opposed to 50% in Warband (technically armor soaks only 50% of blunt damage in Warband, and then added armor reduction rates (*.75 for blunt) are thrown in as well when calculating final damage).

This is why using maces is the ubiquitously prevailing infantry meta in Bannerlord -because someone in the development process made the unbelievably braindead decision to make blunt damage ignore armor entirely. This is why the Khuzait Mace -with the right weapon sweet spot and a favorable swing speed damage bonus, can deliver 100+ damage in a single hit.

This was a poor design choice both in game balance and in general logic. Percussive attacks are effective against armor, but they don't render armor completely null and void either. If that were true, then cricket players wouldn't need to wear helmets when batting, because what's the point? According to Taleworlds' logic, if the ball hits you in the head when you're wearing a helmet -because it's a "blunt attack", it does the same amount of damage to your head as if you weren't wearing wearing a helmet at all. Which of course, is entirely not true. Helmets are worn because they save lives and prevent injury. Helmets are worn because they're proven effective. It's utter nonsense.

On the game balance end, this makes the factions/units with access to maces have an overwhelming advantage over non-mace wielders. Generally, I'm not picking a faction's heavy infantry because of its armor, I'm picking that class because it has access to a mace (i.e. Battanian Oathsworn, Vlandian Sergeant). This is why there's such a favorable opinion regarding the effectiveness a Aserai Tribals with maces, because you get 2-4 shot killing power with 3 spawns guaranteed. What do all skirmisher and recruit classes do when they spawn in on their 2nd or 3rd lives? That's right, they go to the aftermath of a previous clash and loot all the maces.

This highlights how right now, heavy infantry isn't "good" because of its armor, they're "good" because they get maces, and if you're a faction that doesn't get maces (Sturgia), then woe be to you, enjoy losing. The way blunt damage is calculated in Bannerlord essentially makes armor a moot point. I feel like Warband handled the cutting, piercing, and blunt damage calculations in regards to armor much more effectively and equitably.


2) Varyag axes are too long
It may seem counter-intuitive, but I think reducing the length of the Sturgian axes and/or slightly increasing the size of the axe heads would be the major buff they need to make their damage much more consistent.

It's true, the long length of Varyag axes makes them a nightmare to use in team fights. You pretty much only have the option of up-swinging, because any horizontal swings will almost certainly catch your teammates to your left or right (or behind you!). This also highlights the terrible over-exaggerated swing animations -an issue which has been brought up to Taleworlds ad-nauseum, but I guess they like characters starting their swings from all the way behind their backs. Also, those long axes are very prone to glances because the shaft makes contact, not the axe head.

I've always considered the Empire Legionary's axe a far better weapon than the Varyag axes. It's shorter, making it more effective in a packed-in team fight, and it does more damage. They kind of remind me of the Nord axes in Warband. If anything, Varyags should get axes more like those wielded by Legionaries.
 

Gibby Jr

Marquis
Unless it's been tweaked without my knowledge, blunt damage ignores an astounding 100% of armor -as opposed to 50% in Warband (technically armor soaks only 50% of blunt damage in Warband, and then added armor reduction rates (*.75 for blunt) are thrown in as well when calculating final damage).
Ignoring 100% of armour is extreme when the damage numbers are so high (50+) for many maces, because it means maces can be super effective against both armoured and unarmoured enemies. In my opinion, though this is not based on testing so I don't know if this is precisely the number you'd go for, blunt damage effectiveness should be reduced so that it ignores 80% of armour instead of 100%. In Warband, maces were almost never used in competitive, largely because people never had access to heavy armour (in Mercs where heavy armour was commonplace so were maces), partly because their effectiveness was so low against low-medium armour targets because of how low their base damage was. Longer ranged melee weapons were also very good in Warband, as the arcs (mentioned below) made it easier to swing accurately in many spaces, while the maces had super short ranges and had almost nothing going for them.

Quite frankly, even reducing the effectiveness of blunt damage by 20% will probably leave them in a very strong place. I don't think that's a terrible thing in a situation where heavy armour is very commonplace, a result of the multiple life skirmish mode, as low cost units do need to be able to get some value out of their lives. In particular, the Aserai Tribal Warrior needs to remain competitive. However, if a blunt damage nerf ruined the class, their competitiveness could be maintained in ways other than by the fact they have a mace which shreds heavily armoured opponents.

Reducing how much armour blunt damage ignores would also go some way to limiting the "looting" meta - where new spawns come and scavenge the battlefield for all the maces they can. It would by no means stop it, or make it less viable in some cases, but it would at least remove some of the reliance many teams now have when playing factions without maces (S T U R G I A) of having to scour the battlefield for them.

Right now weapon variety is being stifled by how good blunt weapons are.

the long length of Varyag axes makes them a nightmare to use in team fights. You pretty much only have the option of up-swinging, because any horizontal swings will almost certainly catch your teammates to your left or right (or behind you!). This also highlights the terrible over-exaggerated swing animations -an issue which has been brought up to Taleworlds ad-nauseum, but I guess they like characters starting their swings from all the way behind their backs. Also, those long axes are very prone to glances because the shaft makes contact, not the axe head.
This is absolutely the case. The physics-based damage system means it's hard to score maximum damage with weapons like axes. This is combined with the very wide swing arcs, which make it difficult to accurately aim your attack and easy to teamhit/hit walls in tight spaces, meaning players often resort to using overheads only. The system is not working well if, with a weapon that has 3 attack directions, players are resorting to using only 1 of those directions because the other two are largely not viable in a teamfight.

Though I'd love to see the swing arcs be changed to be somewhat more measured, realistic and less exaggerated so that players can be more accurate with their attacks, I know this is highly unlikely to happen. Instead, reducing the length of the Sturgian axes is a must. As you say, the Empire Legionary axes are better because they're easier to hit with maximum damage. It's extremely difficult to do this consistently in a messy teamfight with the long, short-headed Sturgian axes. In my opinion the upgraded Varyag axe is actually worse than the non-upgraded one because it's 5 points longer. I'd say both axes should be reduced in length by 10-15 (the upper end may be too extreme, it would need testing) and the actual max damage heads on them should be increased slightly (especially if only slightly reducing length). It's just too difficult to deal consistent damage with them at the moment because of the difficulties created by the wide swing arcs in combo with the long wooden shafts of the Varyag axes.
 

Horked

What if Sturgias and Vlandias tier 4 perks was swapped? (vlandia keeps the mace)

I believe Vlandia is the only faction that can pick both improved armor (more armor) and melee expert (more speed) for their tier 4 infantry.

Very nice thread and good posts! (y)
 
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Shemaforash

Marquis
WB
Just to build on why warband maces were never used in native is because cut damage weapons such as the military cleaver still dealt more damage to heavy armored targets
 

Jufasto

Sergeant at Arms
WBWF&SNW
As a very experienced Bannerlord Competitive player I 100% agree with Gibby. Changes must be done by the balancing team of Taleworlds. Varyag has 160 gold cost but by far the weakest heavy infantry.
 

Varadin

Spring chicken
Master Knight
M&BWBWF&SNWVC
As a very experienced Bannerlord Competitive player I 100% agree with Gibby. Changes must be done by the balancing team of Taleworlds. Varyag has 160 gold cost but by far the weakest heavy infantry.
What makes you very experienced ?
 
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