Problems with Bannerlord's Troop Trees... and Solutions

Would you prefer something like these troop trees instead of the ones we have in vanilla?


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five bucks

Knight
Shield are a big part of the game for the simple reason that, in the time period the game references, "shield warfare" as a military paradigm was only beginning to be phased out to heavy cavalry.
In England, and mainland Western and Northern Europe for sure, but not necessarily for the rest of Europe, or the Near East, or even Ireland and Wales.

In terms of what I'm actually saying should change, each reduction of their amount of large shields (or downgrade to a weaker/smaller shield) is historically justifiable.

Battania has 3 large shield troops replaced by pikemen. That's justified as the Celts (Scots/Welsh) were known to use two-handed pike formations en masse, known as the schiltron, and these formations were known to be vulnerable to arrows. They were also known for lightly equipped skirmishing (the Kern), or crazy infantry charges and big axes/two-handed swords/falxes. So I think that justifies the majority of their melee infantry not being shieldwall troops - though they still definitely can field plenty of shield troops -, for the purpose of differentiating them more from Sturgia, and also representing pikes more in the game.

Byzantine armies (depending on the period) could contain more lightly armed peltasts with small shields than skoutates/hoplites/legionaries with large shields. They certainly pioneered the use of the long two-handed pike, the long kontarion and menavlion, used without a big shield, and so I think that justifies pike infantry predominating in their armies to differentiate them and increase the usage of pike infantry.

And Khuzaits have already been given weak-looking wicker shields by TW anyway, so it's easy to justify nerfing those, plus with the mishmash of poorly-recorded steppe cultures they are based on, whose only overarching theme is "cavalry", what their infantry should be is open to interpretation.
The prospect of Battania having less shields worries me, since, as a Vlandian, my main tactic is to shower them with bolts, until their formations whittles down enough to be mercilessly smashed by my cavalry. If an armor rebalance does occur, I can't imagine Battania being that affected by it since their troops largely rely on piercing said armor rather than having it themselves.
To clarify, are you worried about Battanian opponents becoming easy targets? Because they have less armor sure, but not by a big margin. I'm confident that fixing the protection that armor provides will be enough.

Battania's shieldless infantry should get enough protection from their armor to survive a charge across a field, while being shot at, long enough to get into melee with crossbowmen and possibly win.
The removal of the veteran Falxman, in particular, appears to me as disastrous: the unit, from a in-game lore perspective, seems to have originated as a hard counter for imperial cataphracts; while it's not very loyal to the real life inspiration, the real life Celts never had to face units nearly as armored as the cataphracts.
My stance is that shock infantry should not be hard countering cavalry. They should be soft countered, BY cavalry.

For starters, it isn't realistic that a guy with a medium-length polearm, sword, or axe should be able to survive being charged by a guy with a long lance, and be able to perfectly time their attack against the cavalryman for full damage AND get the speed bonus from the horse too. Realistically, the momentum of the horse moving at 40km/h should be working against the guy trying to hit it, and the long lance should outrange the medium length weapon. It's hard to find specific historic examples to prove the basic physics of it, but at the battles of Olivento and Montmaggiore, Norman heavy cavalry successfully rode down and slaughtered the Varangian Guard, who were the best of the best when it came to fighting with the two-handed axe.

And realism aside, cavalry are already countered ingame by pike infantry AND get stopped by shield infantry. So from a balance perspective there should be at least ONE type of infantry they're good at fighting against.

Shock infantry makes the most sense: they don't have a long pike to outrange the charging infantry, and they don't have a large shield to protect their body from a lance. So, cavalry should have the length of their lances increased in Singleplayer, and there should be some kind of accuracy penalty to the AI for timing their attacks against a moving horse.

Battania's counter to the heavy cataphract should be a good pike wall, or schiltron, of the sort that eventually worked well for the Scottish Celts against the English heavy armored cavalry.
It is true that the heavily wooded areas of Battania make it difficult to use skirmish tactics, but I don't feel like making them shieldless is a good idea. Perhaps a powerful buff to their ranged abilities should follow
They would still have a lighter shield from T2 which would upgrade into a stronger shield by T3. So the player would be able to choose to upgrade to exactly the same amount of shielded infantry as they can now.
 
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Madijeis

Sergeant
WBNW
Thing is, even if there was an armor rebalance, and Battanians had crazy high deflect chance, they would still be facing Vlandian and Imperial sharpshooters, who realistically would have a very high chance to pen armour since that's what crossbows are there for. Also, veteran falxmen aren't there to counter just the cataphracts, they're there to counter armor as a whole. They're basically the best melee unit the battanians have, their reach and power easily smashes horses, knights and legionaries, while their less skilled brethren serve as shield. Vlandian pikemen have, just barely, been proven useful to counter cav charges but horribly suck in melee.

It all comes down to 2 distinct quirks in bannerlord AI v AI combat:
  • Pikes aren't being used by the pikemen against infantry. I have to test this out, but it appears Bannerlord is a lot less generous than warband in determining which hits go through your allies than Warband. In Warband, I distinctly remember pikemen (in the various mods) being able to use their weapon even with 3 comrades between them and their target, in fact I remember Perisno, with their Player Mercenaries features, not allowing you to have pikemen unless you gave them basically no armor. I extend this criticism to spears.
  • Cavalry is very inaccurate in their charges. Falxmen would absolutely be slaughtered if the AI would aim or time their attack properly, but it appears that Cav AI isn't at the top of their game. When tested, falxmen utterly destroy cav simply because said most knights miss their first, decisive shot and thus get bogged down and pummeled
In the end, I would like to see the changes you propose, but not before these 2 key issues are addressed, as they would effectively be a nerf for the pike factions. I would like to add: make battanian units faster in general, so they can close the gap between them and the crossbows
 

five bucks

Knight
Thing is, even if there was an armor rebalance, and Battanians had crazy high deflect chance, they would still be facing Vlandian and Imperial sharpshooters, who realistically would have a very high chance to pen armour since that's what crossbows are there for.
If armor works properly that increased armor pen should be offset by the slower reload/firing speed of the crossbow, enough time to get into killin' distance and have a chance of beating the archers in melee.
It all comes down to 2 distinct quirks in bannerlord AI v AI combat:
  • Pikes aren't being used by the pikemen against infantry. I have to test this out, but it appears Bannerlord is a lot less generous than warband in determining which hits go through your allies than Warband. In Warband, I distinctly remember pikemen (in the various mods) being able to use their weapon even with 3 comrades between them and their target, in fact I remember Perisno, with their Player Mercenaries features, not allowing you to have pikemen unless you gave them basically no armor. I extend this criticism to spears.
  • Cavalry is very inaccurate in their charges. Falxmen would absolutely be slaughtered if the AI would aim or time their attack properly, but it appears that Cav AI isn't at the top of their game. When tested, falxmen utterly destroy cav simply because said most knights miss their first, decisive shot and thus get bogged down and pummeled
In the end, I would like to see the changes you propose, but not before these 2 key issues are addressed, as they would effectively be a nerf for the pike factions. I would like to add: make battanian units faster in general, so they can close the gap between them and the crossbows
Oh, I absolutely agree that those are serious issues that definitely need to be fixed.
If anything, Empire becoming majority spear units in the current state of affairs would showcase to everyone how truly bad Bannerlord's spear/pike/lance mechanics are at the moment! But you're right that it should be fixed first.
Battanian units moving faster than their similar counterparts would also be nice, would give the faction's version of each unit a bit more of a "theme", and it would be nice for other factions too. Eg: Empire tends to have the best armour, Sturgia tends to have the best shields, etc
 

Danny5

Squire
Can someone do a mod to rework all the troops, something like this lol.

Also, with warband, each faction felt somewhat unique, like you could separate each faction with specific types, like the nord were well known for infantry, rhodocks were known for crossbows etc.

Bannerlord should of looked into this more further.
 

five bucks

Knight
Can someone do a mod to rework all the troops, something like this lol.
If Taleworlds doesn't eventually improve the troop trees to make cultures more differentiated, that will annoy me enough to figure out how to edit .XMLs to make this happen and maybe publish it.
Also, with warband, each faction felt somewhat unique, like you could separate each faction with specific types, like the nord were well known for infantry, rhodocks were known for crossbows etc.
Absolutely! My post was already wordy enough so I didn't go into it, but the Nords, Rhodoks, and Khergits in Warband are great examples of how to make factions feel different. And it's because each faction had fairly clear strengths and weaknesses. When they couldn't field certain types of troop at all, the tactics you used fighting as (or against) a certain faction felt very different. It avoided the issue of Bannerlord where most cultures field similar armies.

On the other hand, I don't think Bannerlord should differentiate factions by each faction being "best" at a certain unit type, as that meant player armies often ended up choosing one unit per faction, e.g. why bother with Swadian Sergeants when you could have Swadian Knights. So a better approach is to show a faction's specialty by giving them more of a certain unit type - as in, make it present from T2, and have 2 branches by T5, so they have lots of a certain troop type.
 
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Halbedier

Recruit
If Taleworlds doesn't eventually improve the troop trees to make cultures more differentiated, that will annoy me enough to figure out how to edit .XMLs to make this happen and maybe publish it.
It is actually very easy to edit units, as was the case in Warband as well. All you need is Notepad (++ variety being better) and very basic code reading skills. How basic you ask? This basic:

<NPCCharacter id="battanian_hero"
default_group="Ranged"
level="21"
name="{=ac8MZYne}Battanian Hero"
occupation="Soldier"
culture="Culture.battania">
<face>
<face_key_template value="BodyProperty.fighter_battania" />
</face>
<skills>
<skill id="Athletics"
value="100" />
<skill id="Riding"
value="25" />
<skill id="OneHanded"
value="60" />
<skill id="TwoHanded"
value="110" />
<skill id="Polearm"
value="40" />
<skill id="Bow"
value="130" />
<skill id="Crossbow"
value="15" />
<skill id="Throwing"
value="15" />
</skills>
<upgrade_targets>
<upgrade_target id="NPCCharacter.battanian_fian" />
</upgrade_targets>
This is an excerpt from one of the units, I let you guess which one. And if you can kind of orient in this, then you can do whatever you want.
It wouldn't take long at all to re-create your idea of unit trees. A few days probably. Maybe bit over a week, depending how much time would one invest.
Heck, if I get bored, in the words of a purple giant, "I'll do it myself."
 

Danny5

Squire
It is actually very easy to edit units, as was the case in Warband as well. All you need is Notepad (++ variety being better) and very basic code reading skills. How basic you ask? This basic:

<NPCCharacter id="battanian_hero"
default_group="Ranged"
level="21"
name="{=ac8MZYne}Battanian Hero"
occupation="Soldier"
culture="Culture.battania">
<face>
<face_key_template value="BodyProperty.fighter_battania" />
</face>
<skills>
<skill id="Athletics"
value="100" />
<skill id="Riding"
value="25" />
<skill id="OneHanded"
value="60" />
<skill id="TwoHanded"
value="110" />
<skill id="Polearm"
value="40" />
<skill id="Bow"
value="130" />
<skill id="Crossbow"
value="15" />
<skill id="Throwing"
value="15" />
</skills>
<upgrade_targets>
<upgrade_target id="NPCCharacter.battanian_fian" />
</upgrade_targets>
This is an excerpt from one of the units, I let you guess which one. And if you can kind of orient in this, then you can do whatever you want.
It wouldn't take long at all to re-create your idea of unit trees. A few days probably. Maybe bit over a week, depending how much time would one invest.
Heck, if I get bored, in the words of a purple giant, "I'll do it myself."
Thats the thing, if it's that easy, then why doesn't TW's do it?
 

Halbedier

Recruit
Thats the thing, if it's that easy, then why doesn't TW's do it?
How should I know?
Maybe this is the vision they are going for. Keeping the factions mostly similar, so the player doesn't feel like missing on some units.
Maybe they just feel it's good enough for now and plan to change it later. Or maybe not.
 
I think you guys sorely misunderstood @Kentucky 『 HEIGUI 』 James in regards to their 'upgrade' system thing.

The trouble with Bannerlord and much of M&B is that building armies basically boils down to turning recruits into knights out of seemingly nowhere, then just spamming that. There's no variety, and utterly no use for lighter troops. And having those sorts of armies are just ridiculous.

What they seem to be suggesting is more about having a realistic army of mostly light levy troops with a few well armoured professionals. So it would be more like some padded spear levies with an elite element of knights in the back. But never just pure knights.

I like this for one, and I'm actually trying to make a mod according to that logic. Not exactly upgrades only improve skills, but basically a levy spearman will never just turn into a knight, or even a mailed man-at-arms. They will however always be around to recruit and good enough to fill the roles you need them to fill.
 
Tangentially related to what I posted earlier, but here's something I've been doing.

63674081-1632740732.png

Basically my way of having a more realistic distribution of levies, professionals and nobles, using the ATC spawn mod.

Basically, different types of 'basic' troops will spawn, all with their own separate troop trees. Stronger troops will be less common and more expensive to upgrade while cheaper ones will be more plentiful and cost effective.
 
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