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POLL: Are you happy with the current state of mass combat in BL?

Are you happy with the current state of mass combat in BL?

  • Yes

    Votes: 19 9.8%
  • No

    Votes: 147 76.2%
  • I like turtles

    Votes: 27 14.0%

  • Total voters
    193

Currently viewing this thread:

bonerstorm

Veteran
So the devs have let us all know that they don't plan on implementing any of the missing SP features from Warband.

BL is effectively a battle sim with superficial RPG elements and an economic engine but - let's be honest - it isn't even a good battle sim.

Apparently MP is fun and, generally, the tournament fights are ok... but the mass combat is dumb and boring. Victory or defeat are almost always a foregone conclusion in every fight... and it often has to be, considering the prohibitive cost and grind associated with getting top-tier troops. Without mods, the best way to level your troops is by grinding looters... which the devs force you to play out every time because autobattle kills your top-tier units and only gives 1/10x XP for your trouble.

Case in point: the AI is incapable of using any historical battle formations. At all. Shieldwalls - the bread and butter of frontline infantry for over a thousand years - don't work. Pike squares - the shieldwall's eventual replacement - don't work. Ranged volleys - bow, crossbow or thrown - don't exist. Cavalry line or wedge charges don't work... cavalry just charge one at a time Leroy-Jenkins-style into masses of spearmen which somehow do not manage to do any damage to them. Deploying the commander's reserve isn't a thing... reinforcements just teleport into the middle of the map like it's Star Trek.

Nothing in this medieval battle sim actually simulates anything resembling a medieval battle.

And that's on top of the fact that spears and sieges are flat-out busted. Oh yeah, and the only time that spears "work" is when you horizontally swing a massive two-handed glaive and behead people like you're mowing the grass... which doesn't exactly strike me as realistic, especially from horseback.

Moronic combat AI doesn't charge or fight in formation and - when you force it to - the results are often worse than no formation at all because of collision issues. The only practical impact players can have on extremely-large battles is babysitting the archers so they don't position themselves in a gulch or directly behind the front line - where they can't shoot at the enemy - while they wait to get slaughtered by enemy cavalry.


So here's where the complaining ends and the solutions (hopefully) start:

With the limitations of the engine in mind, what do you all think can be done to make mass combat great again?

Here are a few of my thoughts:
  • Treat formations as a unified AI with a unified morale mechanic that bleeds into individual AI as losses mount and the formation is breached
  • Treat entire armies a unified construct, so you can actually give commands like "guard the flanks" to a formation without splitting the unit and personally F1-ing them at each end of the battle lines... or just trusting the formation AI to do it for you (also "skirmish from behind", "stay in reserve", "flank on the left", "advance", "halt")
  • Group units by function, not class: Line Infantry, Skirmishers, Archers, Light Cavalry, Shock Infantry, Pike Infantry, Shock Cavalry, Reserve, Bodyguard
  • Order them by default according to their function: #1 to shieldwall, #2-4 skirmishes then flanks then charges routing troops, #5 flanks in loose formation, #6 guards flanks in square formation, #7-9 reserves
  • Program line infantry to line up in parallel shield walls and then actually skirmish by throwing spears/axes before charging in formation with shields raised (bonus points if they yell real loud)
  • Also, program line infantry to sort itself with the heaviest armor on the frontline
  • Program ranged troops to fire at extreme range in volleys against oncoming troops AND target horses at close range - NOT riders (who they should run away from if they can't mob them at least 4-to-1)
  • F*** it: turn on friendly fire for AI ranged and program it not to fire into a dense melee so they're not all acting like Legolas at Helm's Deep
  • Program shock infantry and heavy cavalry to attack shieldwalls in wedge formation and give troops in that formation a conditional buff
  • Hell... ALL formations should give unique conditional buffs to every unit inside them
  • Use the shield bash mechanic to simulate the press of bodies as formations meet and have them break defensive blocks with success determined by 1H skill
  • Have lighter-armed units who are mobbing a lone heavily-armed unit use bashes to stun-lock them (which was basically how they did it IRL)
  • THIS IS GONNA BE CONTROVERSIAL: add in a failure-to-parry mechanic that scales in success with the relevant combat skill
  • THIS TOO: Proc stuns when you shield-block or parry from the correct direction (shield health is almost never relevant in mass combat)
  • Make parry efficiency at least partially dependent on the force used - so partially-successful parries proportionately reduce damage while opening up the enemy for a counter-attack
  • Remove the attack delay for spears and give every single one of them that's over 1.5m in length the ability to brace
  • Make spears extremely difficult to parry and generally bad at parrying
  • Make spears break like shields - especially lances after a couched charge
  • Boost damage to axes and maces over swords, but at the cost of worse parry performance
Besides the mass combat, I'd also really like general QOL improvements like the ability to train literally anything for yourself or your troops/companions outside of combat - so you're not learning to use a sword by personally murdering more people than Ghengis Khan over the course of more battles than Alexander the Great. It'd be nice to level Leadership, too, without sitting in an army non-stop for literal in-game years.

And I'm not talking about some bulls*** "3xp/day" crap. Recruits cost 2000xp to train and there's no reason why it should take more than 2 weeks to teach a half-naked peasant how to use a shield and spear and put on some damn clothes. And DEFINITELY no reason why they should only be able to train by personally murdering other peasants on the tactical map.
 
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Combat needs a lot of revision as do damage and armor formulas.

Tiers of troops needs to be more significant: High tier troops need to be more powerful and worthwhile compared to lower tiers. Likewise some low tier units (archers, tribal warriors)needs to be a bit suckier... they just too constantly good for low tier cheap units.

Cavalry needs to hit it's targets. Higher tier cavalry needs more survivability, it's just not okay to lose warhorse units to lower tier units.

Infantry needs "something" to give them value and place on the battle field. It could be enhanced survivability (ko'd instead of killed) or other gamey things like buffs or defenses towards archers or cav. Could also be some other type of value like more cargo+ or more +map speed in some terrains, other stuff to encourage thier use. As it is, packing in more low tier archers is just always better and it's not something that can be fixed by making archers suck more or any other thing but making infantry better in significant and useful ways.

As for other stuff, they've already poo-poo'd more complicated formation functions and I don't think they want hard counters/ R P S style stuff.

If we get pre-battle placement and formations it'll be a big improvement and AFAIK we are getting it still.
 

vonbalt

Knight at Arms
WBNWVCM&B
Combat needs a lot of revision as do damage and armor formulas.

Tiers of troops needs to be more significant: High tier troops need to be more powerful and worthwhile compared to lower tiers. Likewise some low tier units (archers, tribal warriors)needs to be a bit suckier... they just too constantly good for low tier cheap units.

Cavalry needs to hit it's targets. Higher tier cavalry needs more survivability, it's just not okay to lose warhorse units to lower tier units.

Infantry needs "something" to give them value and place on the battle field. It could be enhanced survivability (ko'd instead of killed) or other gamey things like buffs or defenses towards archers or cav. Could also be some other type of value like more cargo+ or more +map speed in some terrains, other stuff to encourage thier use. As it is, packing in more low tier archers is just always better and it's not something that can be fixed by making archers suck more or any other thing but making infantry better in significant and useful ways.

As for other stuff, they've already poo-poo'd more complicated formation functions and I don't think they want hard counters/ R P S style stuff.

If we get pre-battle placement and formations it'll be a big improvement and AFAIK we are getting it still.
I was going to write a big essay but it's basically this right here.

Just to add two cents, infantry needs to learn how to fight properly in formation, that would be it's great advantage, a shieldwall should be devastating to face if the infantry knew how to keep the enemy at bay while their comrades hacked and stabbed at enemies focusing on another for example, spears should be drastically improved to be the dominant weapon it was from the first rock on a stick until firearms took the scene.

Right now formations are there just to look cool it seems, infantry feels trapped and constantly dragged to the formation while their individual AI wants to run wild and this make it lose it's purpose completely that was teamwork and safety in numbers.
 

Calabanar

Sergeant
Cav’s strengths should be mobility and either charge or high damage potential (thanks to speed to bonus).

Infantry should have more benefits from being in formation, that is their whole thing. I am sure that if infantry could position their shields better and coordinate to react to threats around them more efficiently it would drastically increase their performance. Heck, stuff like spear walls would be amazing, and make non shielded infantry so much more viable... along with spears, obviously.

Currently we kind of have the formation bonuses with some of the perks, but they are small. Obviously armour needs to play a bigger role as well, I think the last year of threads on this subject have made it clear.

The biggest problem though is blobs. They look ugly and make battles much faster

Agree with most points brought up here, except for the breaking of weapons. They could get worse over time, making smithing more important, but having your weapon break... idk, a bit too frustrating IMO. That is better left to modders.
 

Antaeus

Sergeant
All I need is the ability to issue target orders to my troops.

Archers... shoot those cavalry.
Infantry... attack those archers

Until we can issue purposeful orders, all the other concerns are window dressing.
 
All I need is the ability to issue target orders to my troops.

Archers... shoot those cavalry.
Infantry... attack those archers

Until we can issue purposeful orders, all the other concerns are window dressing.
I think this was discussed as "too complex."
 

Rbtparker13

Regular
It would be nice to not have my entire army turn sideways because a few cavalry units were in that direction.

While the main army was just barreling straight down towards me
 

froggyluv

Grandmaster Knight
NW
This game engine lacks one major feature which absence makes ANY realistic combat situation realistic and that is Line of Sight. Just about every battle ever throughout history used hidden or out of line of sight troops to ambush, lay low, move under cover, create subterfuge whatever -the point is these AI in this engine ALWAYS know where the enemy is. Until this is fully realized any talk of realism in regards to historical battles is utter nonsense
 

Aurex

Regular
WB
Nobody voted yes.
Seems like we have some people with standards here, unlike on the almighty Steam Reviews™
 

Cornelis

Regular
I always just seem to not be controlling troops in the armies just too much of a pain in the ass trying to follow orders I just let my troops contribute to the killing while I either try to be a soldier or ride alone and harass the enemy I know I'm not trying or playing properly they just need to change something in my opinion i just can't put my finger on what it is
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
Grandmaster Knight
Well, I wanted to write a summary... but I think I've already written enough here among other threads.

OP, I don't want to detract from your feedback, I even agree on most things; however the problem is that this list has been commented (broadly speaking) on over and over and over again, and again.... and again....and again....and again in different threads... all of them legitimate ofc. We seem to have entered a cycle of redundancy where the only one who has the power to move us out is Taleworlds... and yet they turn a deaf ear to requests (is not a priority now) that are based on the fundamentals of the system.

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By the way, no... MP is NOT fun and it's where the fundamental flaws of the combat system become most apparent... swing arcs, animations, etc...
 

daxiapi777

Sergeant
I think it's quite decent, by M&B standard. I never expect it to be on par with something like Total War. In Total War terms, the entire enemy army in Bannerlord is essentially just comprised of 2.5 units. Horse Archers can act as an independent unit whereas the Calvary only occasionally detach from the foot soldiers. That's why I am not so enthusiastic about the bridge battles after that terrain rework. The AI just rush to you and clash with your army at a certain point. It really doesn't matter if that point is on a bridge or a hill, the AI don't use tactics anyway.
 

HumanCancer

Regular
I'm not happy with anything in this game, let alone combat. But why would developers bother programming the game when the modders can do it for free?
 
As Terco mentioned, this has been discussed, a lot. Still a good thread - maybe one day someone will listen.

I think a lot of the current flaws in combat boil down to these items, which in a vacuum, are not that bad but add up together to the current slogfest / weird deployments.
- "better" tactics are soft-locked behind Tactics level, should likely tie to personality or at least let the AI to level up overtime to get to these higher tactics levels (and tell us when / where they are)
- Lack of default troop profiles that align to the rest of the profiles - i.e. Skirmishers, Light Cav, Heavy Cav, Heavy Infantry - if current troop trees were re-profiled it would make other elements easier to implement such as keep infantry in a shield wall with skirmishers screening them
- Cavalry charges are anemic, at best, most cav combat ends up being mount skirmishing which is fine as that happened a lot - Aurelian's battle of Antioch (well "60 miles from Antioch") and Emesa as well as the Battle of Zama are awesome examples of cav skirmishers and "kiting" cav formations away from infantry
- Formation cohesion is still spotty, took a few updates to get shield wall better, the other formations are still bad like Skein and Column
- Lack of Line of Sight - then again this is defeated with the fact you can use the camera or hit Alt to find the enemy formations - but still makes a Total War type of deployment counter productive
- Lack of deployment / order of battle
- Reinforcements just spawn in at random which will always thwart any micromanaged battle plans when you get flanked
- No spear wall / pike squares
 
As Terco mentioned, this has been discussed, a lot. Still a good thread - maybe one day someone will listen.


- Formation cohesion is still spotty, took a few updates to get shield wall better, the other formations are still bad like Skein and Column

I don't mean to edit everything away, all good points but this one in particular annoys me the most.

I understand the primary reason behind this is because every soldier is its own agent? That's why you'll see 1 soldier break off to chase fleeing troops while the main body goes somewhere else. Or 1 soldier charges another group by itself.

Perhaps this could be a viable solution. First, we need 1 out of every 10 soldiers in a unit to be a standard bearer. The units that belong to that standard bearer would stick like glue to that standard bearer. This ought to improve cohesion.

Then, the standard bearer would have a priority list of orders. At the worst, we'd at least have small unit action.
 

murtega

Knight
Give me some infantry who'd face their shields to enemy while I try to regroup them instead of turning their backs and I'm OK. Low standarts.
 
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