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.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 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.
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.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.
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.
My stance is that shock infantry should not be hard countering cavalry. They should be soft countered, BY cavalry.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.
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.
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.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