Dear Devs, A love letter... Sorta kinda

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Hello my friends.

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you. The game is wonderful, enjoyable and I personally have played the multiplayer way more and far longer than I thought I would. Now that I've played a game of strategy and tactics from the grounds eye view... Nothing compares. I don't think I can go back to birds eye view, so again, sincerely, Thank you very much.

I'm writing this to express some concerns I've had. I won't pretend to know what kind of balance you're looking for, other than it seems to heavily favor two handers, which I'm salty about, however, I decided I would live to regret it if I didn't offer you my view and critiques at least once. I won't lie, I let myself get a little angry while writing this, I wanted to be honest after all. Some background, I play on all the servers when I play. Mostly on the American and Europe servers, and sometimes I delve into the East Asian server. So I play with ping around 60-110 on NA, anywhere from 140-210 on EU, usually around the 160-170 range, and minimum 210 ping on EA. This is important because I have to play differently depending on the ping on NA alone, and the further out I get the more drastic I have to change. I also don't usually play stacked or in competition. I find myself playing alone more often than not, so keep in mind that is the viewpoint I'm coming from.

Before we begin, I want to point out that I'm not actually very good at this game. I'm fairly new relatively speaking, as I didn't play the warband multiplayer. So I'm going to focus more on what I think I'm good enough to comment on, and that is being a tricky, sneaky bastard, as well as a guy who wants him men to be more disciplined than he is. A Chinese warlord once demoralized his overpowering enemy by having an entire unit walk up to the front lines and slit their own throats. He was going to lose, he was fighting Sun Tzu, was outnumbered and had just taken power. But he won. Alexander once took a city that was well fortified and he had no way of capturing, by ordering a phalanx unit to advance towards a cliff, and when the first rank fell to their deaths, he halted them and the city gave up. I'm not either of these two people, so I'm not going to ask for that. I will express to you what I would like to see the soldiers do. I would also like to note that I also have biases, so I'll try to point those out when I come across them. I also pull mostly from my understanding of history, which is incomplete. So, Lets begin.

I think spears are pretty underpowered in this game as a general fighting stick, but that may be because they have to be precise, they're slow, and only have two block options and none of these things bode well for me when I have to overcome a ping difference. At one point I could use the Spear Infantry's range, along with well placed shield bashes, kicks, and backward jumping thrusts to kill the two handers, but then spears got slower. They work decent enough against cav I have observed, from mostly a falling position.

I have chosen to separate the units by class, rather than by faction. I'll talk about them in terms of Light Infantry, Skirmishers, Two Handers, Heavy Infantry, Mounted Archers, Light Archers, Heavy Archers, Light Cavalry, and Heavy Cavalry. Not in that order and I will dive into specific units.

This is by far my least used class. I only use it typically as the Empire because it doubles as their Light Infantry and even then, I almost always take the Sword and Board approach because its the best way for me to fight with 60-280 ping. So I have no ground to stand on with this one, so I'll leave that critique to someone else.

Two Handers:
Similarly, I use these but I don't understand them. I've heard that you just charge but that never works for me. My experience comes from having them rip all of my favorite kinds of ways to play to shreds. Players really love these, and I can understand it, one hit kills are easy. In my opinion, all or nothing mechanics, such as block or die, have a way better chance of success than anything that requires more than one attempt. I like the Billhook.

Light Infantry:
I see these as basic militia men. I've noticed most of them have the option for either a shield or a spear, so you can anti-cav with them. An issue I will mention in almost all of these is discipline, as in, the ENGAGEMENT DISTANCE. I despise the ludicrously large engagement distance, and find it ruins a lot, however, I would expect that kind of disorderliness from militia.

-Recruits: Its fun to have a spear like object that moves at a halfway decent speed, even if it is too short. I don't expect too much from militia.
-Peasant levy: I love the Bill hook. Everything about it. Its not too strong, its not too weak, it has just enough range, its a fun weapon to use that invites challenge and forgives both you and your opponent for mistakes. The pitchfork however, well its a spear that you don't get a shield with. In Captain mode, I'll use the pick so I can use the shield.
-Clan warrior: Last time I checked, these guys were FAST! It makes them extremely fun to flank and guerilla warfare with. The extra armor also looks really awesome, I'm a big fan of any unit with the black fur on their shoulders.
-Warrior: I see them a lot with improved armor and two handed axes, where they kill my tribals, my horses, my shields, my archers and I even saw a team just spam them as a safe bet. I would counter them with archers, but last time I checked, archers were still too slow. When I sword and board in TD, I find myself wishing they ran faster.
-Rabble: Who names a unit Rabble? Thats a little rude in my opinion.
-Tribal Warriors: This is my favorite Light infantry unit. The swiss army knife of Light infantry. I only wish their spear and their feet were a little faster. Also, probably the only Light Infantry that I would want Professional discipline from, if only because Aserai has no real Heavy Infantry.

Heavy Infantry:
I see these units as elite, well trained, purpose built and I expect much more from than their levy counterparts. I consider almost all of these units to be full time warriors, trained in both single combat and group tactics. Which for the most part, they all live up to that gold standard really well. Currently I can't use them because of the formations slow glitch, but hey, they're mostly carbon copies at the moment which is really nice for me, because it means I get a nice consistent experience from all of them pretty equally. If you made the squad a little smaller, their weapons a little stronger, and their feet a little faster, that would be nice, and of course increase their discipline so I can trap the light cav a little easier.

-Legionary: Vikings used to serve as Imperial Guardsmen to the Byzantine empire in real life, soooooo, can we get the actual bastard axe the Varyag have? I really love the way it looks. Not sure if it meshes well, or where its from historically, but I was a little bummed when the Empires version didn't look the same. People keep telling me the Bastard Sword is useless as well, which makes me a little sad, but an shield killing axe instead? I would pick it. Fanboy moment suspended.
-Sergeant: What's not to love? Nothing, there is nothing not to love. I would like more sweet ass helmets, but I'm reaching there.
-Oathsworn: I like the Bulky look. I enjoy them extremely. I have a nice video recorded where I decimate a bunch of Druzhinnik and I was happy until someone called me some uncomfortable things.
-Varyag: Look at my axe, for it is the axe of the Northern Wolves, come to bring darkness until all that's left to see is the glittering of riches and the light that marks the passing of our enemies. This is my favorite Heavy Infantry unit, I wasn't a fan at first, but after I literally went through hell and back as Sturgia, as well as my first foray into the East Asian server was as Sturgia, they grew on me.
-Spear Infantry: I actually hesitate to call Spear infantry Heavy infantry. Maybe because I have so few infantry options? I dunno, I can't tell you what the problem I have with this unit is. It should be the perfect shield wall, the perfect phalanx, the perfect testudo, but it doesn't feel like any of those things. Recently the slow glitch that seems to me to come from the speed modifier added to the formations has completely destroyed the use of formations for me and I won't ruin my commandability by putting them into a formation, just in case I die then I can't move or command effectively. Give the commander an option for a nomad Steppe pony or something, that way I can be as dangerous as if I were a mounted warrior and still command effectively.

I have to say that I'm biased towards archers. My last name literally means "Arrow" and the recurve bow is my favorite weapon, period. That said, I have some opinions. I prioritize Accuracy first, then firing speed, then power. I feel like the archer ai needs two very important changes. They need to have chosen a target by the time their crosshair reaches its smallest point, and they need to have fired before it gets bigger. The longer they take to release their arrows, the less useful they are. I stopped playing archers recently because none of them really fit the way I want to use them anymore, or the speed glitch kills it.

Light Archers:
I don't have an issue with the way these units work other than I would like to see them be more effective against unshielded opponents. I'm upset with their discipline again, but if these are militia, I wouldn't expect they have lifelong training or anything.
-Archer militia:
-Arbalest: I have heard that crossbows are easier to handle and have a militia use, especially if you get two men to a crossbow. But crossbows don't fit into my framework of light archer use because they prioritize power instead of shooting speed. Not bad, I love to snipe, and they make up for it with the ability to get a small shield so they can manage in melee rather nicely.
-Ranger: If these units are based off the English Longbowmen, who were trained from birth to use a longbow, I wouldn't consider them militia. Sure, maybe they're undisciplined, but the very name Ranger implies discipline and skill, even if they're not based on a real world equivalent. I'll refer you to the next section about Heavy Archers, as I would place them further into that category.
-Steppe Bow:

Heavy Archer:
I had a huge amount of fun with Heavy Archers for a really short period of time. The smaller squad leads them nicely to guerilla warfare. When the Engagement distance was low, and the speed was high, the fall back while shooting maneuver was the most beautiful thing I had seen in a long time. I expect the absolute best from the Elite archers, not switching to melee weapons when an opponent is within earshot. From what I've seen, when you increase any other units move speed, you decrease archer fire rate, effectively nerfing them for guerilla tactics. Preferably, I would rather these units die with the bow in their hands than pull out a melee weapon before I've told them to. Every archer here can also hold its own in melee.

-Palantine Guard: I love this unit. We can have crossbows, or the recurve(I believe) bow, I can stack it with a shield or a menav, and they have decent armor. Not the best shield, but enough to get them through a melee, and of course the Menavlion is the Menavlion.
-Sharpshooters: I don't play as them very much, but that's only because I like the Sergent. A sword, a shield and a sniper rifle. This is an amazing skirmish unit that I have been killed with so beautifully so many times that I love and respect it even if I don't do crossbows.
-Ranger: Yep, I'm putting it here again, because you can swap to that two handed axe and live life comfortably.
-Fiann: The Strongest Bows in the game ladies and gents. You get a bunch of options. Nice two handed swords for dueling and fun stuff. I really like this unit too, even if it takes forever to the get arrow flying these days. The Ai seems decently accurate with them recently.
-Hunter: I put the hunter in Heavy Archer because I would use it like a Heavy Archer. Everyone pretty much does. Its like the Mounted warrior, the numbers make up for the lesser equipment, but the equipment still exceeds the melee capabilities of the Light archers.
-Khan's Guard: I have nothing to say about this. Khan's Guard has the glaive. That's all
-Veteran: This is probably my favorite Heavy Archer. I like the bows; The composite and the Recurve bows are pretty much my favorite in the mix of bows because both give good A.F.P.; and they get larger shields, decent melee weapons, and have enough armor that I could often use them as a substitute for heavy infantry in a pinch, as Aserai is missing that vital unit. Also, can you give them their old outfits back please? The white nightgowns are weird looking, they don't look like they have any armor anymore, and it makes it exceptionally obvious who the commander is, like a sore thumb.

K, lets talk cav for a moment before we dive in. If I asked for realism in cavalry, there would be no game anymore, there would be no reason to play anything but cavalry. Whether we talk the Mongol horse archers, The Muslim light cavalry, the Roman Auxiliaries or the European heavily armored shock troops, there is a good reason that you "Call in the Cavalry" to fix a problem, there is a good reason that depictions of Armageddon put Jesus on a bunch of white horses and there is a good reason that we used Cavalry in warfare literally until we replaced them with airplanes and tanks. Both the Greeks and the Chinese have stories about heavenly and divine horses. Some of the best warriors of all time used horses, and I know that the best commanders of all time used them as well. I find the lack of respect for them displeasing, but alas, I have to accept that its just a game sometimes.

Also, I looked at the forums just now. Is it not better to use a formula for velocity based upon the total weight and mass of an object to determine the damage? Heavy armor makes a horse heavier, meaning its inertia accelerates (Both positive and negative acceleration) more slowly. Meaning a heavier object with, perhaps double the density of a smaller object, will be moving with more force than a lighter object moving with more speed.

Light Cavalry:
I don't use light cavalry in Captain. Its already hard enough to keep the Heavy cav alive and useful when almost every unit in the game has anti-cav options. I understand they're supposed to be of some use, but I haven't found it. In other modes I use them, because a cheap spear and shield on a horse is usually much more forgiving for me, and is also preferable. Not to mention sometimes the horses will have a good balance of mobility. But alas, if I play seriously, the cav gets nerfed.
-Courser: Menavlion on a horse. The cav Menavlion, when I last checked, the numbers were way nerfed, so it may be difficult if you lose your horse, but I'm sure the guys on the ground don't care as long as your dead.
-Bedouin: I want to like this unit. I want to use the camel. But I have found it to be worse for me in almost every aspect. Its also a skirmisher, which isn't my thing.

Heavy Cavalry:
These I use as shock troops. My biggest gripe is that the units are the dumbest people and horses I've ever seen. They never stay in formation, they never move in a straight line, the wings decide to engage and get stuck on units they have no business engaging, they never disengage when I tell them to, instead preferring to sit in the center of a group of units until their horse is killed and they die. Oftentimes I will place them on a hill to set up a hammer and anvil charge as soon as I'm ready, and I'll die and find I'm on the other side of the map for no discernable reason, and none of my troops are where they're supposed to be. I liked when the heavy cav knocked people over it made them survive longer, and it made putting your troops in a row or a square formation useful and necessary as an anti-cav option, especially if you had no spears. Discipline and engagement distance in cav is the most unacceptable of any of the units. Your most elite of elite units are the horseman, your knights, cataphracts, lancers, Mamlukes they're all the best of the best historically, and they're all the most stupid, most undisciplined, least intuitive units in the game. When I place a marker for cav to be in a place, I need them to go straight there without charging or engaging another unit on the way. For example, I'll throw down a nice flanking position behind and enemy unit, and the cav will go out of their way, WAY out of their way to try and rush through that, or a different unit they had no business even looking at. The horses would be more useful covered in oil cloths and set aflame, That way they at least take people with them. The spears are supposed to stop the horses, the bracing of pikes on the ground is what breaks charges, not 16 guys with axes or a group of archers in line box. I also need my Cav to stand together, and to stand still when they're waiting. I understand the key concept of playing tactical cav is to keep your men moving at all times so the opponent's champion cav doesn't decimate them, but when they do stand still, like my professional archers, they need to be more ready to die than break formation, because they will live longer that way.

-Cataphract: It has some armor, but I don't like it much. I don't like the weapon sets, I don't like the horses much, I'm not a huge fan of lamellar armor, and I can't lance with a two handed lance or spear. It isn't a good fit for me personally.
-Knight: I love the knight. Bastard axe is good fun but I don't use it in Captain much, and the sword is a better option in almost all experiences I've had. The Longer lance makes your ai that much more useful, extra armor is always a nice touch, and I've been really enjoying the different horse selection recently that gives a bit of different play variation.
-Mounted Warrior: I place this in Heavy Cav and not light cav, because with the charger horse and barding it serves as the lightest heavy cav, with the numbers I can put them in the skein formation and double row them so they don't suffer as much from their own idiocy by letting their wings get stuck on enemy units. In addition you get two passes through a unit instead of one when you do a charge. Its also my personal best, as the horses have decent mobility, decent speed, decent health, I get a shield, and the spears are both short enough and fast enough that I have aim much less forward, and strike much less early to compensate for the ping, letting me actually hit my target where I see them being hit, and not a phantom image. I also like the look a lot, and I thoroughly enjoy actually riding the horses around.
-Druzhinnik: I can't pronounce this name, nor can I usually remember it. It was my favorite when I first started, because when I first started playing they barely moved, it felt like every thing they did was with such precision and skill they didn't have to put a lot of effort into it. The Horses were nice and slow and they felt bulky and weighted, and the unit on the horse didn't bounce barely at all. It was the perfect slow heavy armored shock troop with the long lances and the heavy axes. And again, I went through Hell with this unit. It holds a special place.
-Lancer: I love the Lancer too. I like that I can cav 3 on 1 with it, I love that I can get a bow, I loved the horse before it was nerfed, I like the glaive, I like that its the same build I used in SP as far as weapons go, Glaive, Sword, Bow. I do not enjoy opposing lancers from atop a horse. You can swing three times, and kill three enemy cavalry ais. The ais cannot defend themselves against even just a regular Captain player when they have the heavy glaive. Its great if you champion, but if you can't deal with your team's and your opponents team's insecurities, they're going to treat you like **** and they will be absolutely the most toxic people I've ever seen. That's my opinion.
-Mamluke: This is my Favorite Heavy Cav. The Barb horse was exceptional, it was fast, unlike my poor Steppe ponies, had excellent maneuverability and was a smooth ride. The Sword has the perfect length, the lance... eh, you get a shield with it and the ai is good enough with it I have no complaints whatsoever. I think they look pretty sweet too, with enough detail and contrast that they don't look basic and simple, and they actually have layers in their unit design. They are designed absolutely beautifully. Whoever designed them should be proud.

This is where you better stop if you're a little sensitive to criticism. Because I get considerably more angry for this piece.

Mounted Archers:
Lets get one thing straight. I played three games late one evening in which I finally achieved flow and was one with my horse. Naturally, I was also one with my bow. I did exceptionally, and I learned never, to ever, play well. Lets begin.
-Mounted Archer: The actual unit. This unit suffers. It suffers from inadequate accuracy, inadequate riding and shooting skills, inadequate armor, and inadequate discipline. Hitting anything with this unit is about impossible if you're opponent isn't holding themselves in place. I haven't tried dismounting them recently, because, well, they're both cav and archers, they can't move for ****. If they get hit, they're dead. That's all there is to it. We both know when you nerfed their horses, because it was one horse for two games and then suddenly a "BRAND NEW" Steppe SADDLE horse just appeared out of nowhere. Salty. I won't talk about that horse. However, I'll talk about how the Steppe horse, a beautiful technical riding masterpiece has not seen the unit since, and the nomad equivalent has since been changed. I'll talk about how none of the Mounted archer horses can outrun any other cav unit, they are the slowest. I'll talk about how the riding skill was nerfed so even if the horse had good maneuverability, the rider can't use it effectively. I'll say that this unit functioned most like its historical counterpart. Because when you're livelihood relies upon chasing, and shooting small game from atop a horse, you are in fact not only a good rider, but also a good marksman. However, all of those things pale in comparison to the the largest problem horse archers have, I'm not as willing to tolerate bad discipline in my war troops. The Mounted Archer ai suffers from the worse parts of being nerfing, the archer ai, and the cav ai. The Mounted Archers are almost completely unable to defend themselves at close range. They don't know how to fire the bow as soon as they get a target, often holding it when they could have easily fired and saved themselves from certain death, they spin their horses around, decreasing their accuracy even further, if you want to call what's left accuracy. They suffer from the fact that Cav does not function coherently in line formation, and because they can only fire to one side any formation where they are lined up just sucks. I haven't tried to use the column formation recently, but a month or two ago when I tried it they would just run around the map randomly. I wouldn't mind if they could follow me in single file formation and inherently know to swerve away from oncoming enemies while firing past them, because then I could at least utilize an encirclement, but again, column formation didn't work. I do love the way the unit looks, it even has one of my favorite helmets. I did enjoy once upon a time ducking glaives and menavs with those sweet sweet breaks and having a fighting chance against lances and spears due to the excellent close range accuracy they had.
-All the other ranged horse units: I honestly don't test them enough, getting bow cav to do anything useful is pretty difficult if I'm not one behind the bow.

I'll be honest, I kind of have a problem with the way the game is balanced. I don't think I like the way a decision to change the stats is made. But again, its your game, I don't actually know how you do it, I can only guess. Who am I to say any of these things to you? I'm just a simple human being, who can hope you consider their insight.

Thank you for reading all the way through. I want you to remember this is all opinion and preferences, and a few straight up complaints, I'll admit. I don't have any expectation that you'll change anything, but to not express the honest way I feel about it would do myself a disservice and leaving the emotions stacked up is just a recipe for a disaster when it erupts. Please also note that this isn't in concern to any particular update, as multiplayer goes through its own cycles, and these are things I've been chronically upset about, for a time. Please excuse any time I misspelled a units name. I wrote them all down, but I didn't go back and triple check them all.

Thank you very much,
Have a fantastic day,

P.P.S. Sorry I was too much of a coward to come forward before. Sometimes I have difficulty stepping up to my rightful place in the world of equality.
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I realize I made a mistake about the mounted archer's horse selection. Thats what happens when you don't double check and just vent. Oops.


As a bad ping player I relate to most of your thoughts! (Best I get is 150 on EA, but I usually play 250 / 300 on NA / EU) We do have to play the game mode a bit differently to others. I use my time I spend on the battle field watching the flow of the battle and calling out flanks etc because I know others are most likely focused on their own character fighting. This gives us a unique perspective as the tactics unfold. It's a long post but a well thought out one, thanks for posting! I look forward to strategising on the field with you :smile:

I think 2h is not always best with f1f3, I find, especially if your fighting behind a shield unit (which is often very advantageous). F1f3 means your guys will likely push past the shield wall and become venerable, keeping them standing immediately behind the wall in line or loose formation will keep them protected at the beginning of the fight by fighting aggressively over the top of the shields (which I think is how the strategy is intended). This also means enemy captains can't draw your men away from their intended target. Once the fight starts becoming chaotic then f1f3 is excellent. We all have different opinions though.
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