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The AI cavalry often charges well ahead of the main army and gets slaughtered early on in the battle. Often the lords are also killed early on.

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It doesn't happen in every battle, but when the AI is attacking, in many cases, the enemy cavalry will charge in well ahead of the main AI army dividing their forces and engaging the player's army with just their cavalry.

What happens is that the AI cavalry get cut down, since the enemy forces are divided, whereas the player's forces are together. Sometimes the AI will charge their cavalry head on into a shield wall or into heavy archer fire. Compounding the problem, the enemy lord is often easily cut down as well with the rest of the heavy cavalry. This seems to happen most often with enemies that rely on lancer cavalry.

In one battle, I had the AI charge. I had a lot of Vlandian Crossbows and Battanian Fians in Group 2, the archers. The cavalry did not last very long and I sent my cavalry to countercharge, which quickly dispatched them when combined with the archer fire.

This also means that the AI army is easier to defeat, as now their cavalry has been cut down as have their lords. I had both my cavalry and rest of army intact, whereas the AI only had their infantry and archers. Reinforcements sometimes add a few cavalry units, but not nearly as many to turn the battle around decisively as the first spawn and their lords are gone too. Often I find reinforcement cavalry is easily cut down for that reason. There are to few, the are not coordinated to attack together, and often when large numbers of reinforcements are spawning, that means the battle is already turning against the AI.

Proposed solution
The AI needs to make more effective use of "combined arms" tactics.

Cavalry need to be held back to make the most of them - wait for the infantry to first charge and the archers to engage. Then once the player is occupied with that, the enemy AI's cavalry should be programmed to try to identify an opportunity to flank the player's army in their rear. The AI's heavy infantry should charge forward, but the cavalry should be trying to go around the main army of the player to flank and destroy from the rear.

Charging at enemy archers during the middle of a battle can be especially effective. Archers are vulnerable to a charge because they are not as heavily armored as their melee counterparts, they busy are firing at the enemy heavy infantry during the middle of a battle, and they do not have many anti-cavalry weapons. It also means that their ability to fire arrows is disrupted while being charged.

Another option is to charge at enemy infantry after that while their shields are facing their opponent's infantry (ex: from the rear).

If the player does indeed charge their cavalry ahead of their main army and make the same move that I am describing the AI doing above, then the AI should counter-charge with their own cavalry, but keep in range of the AI army's archers, which would force the player to face both the combined might of enemy archers and enemy cavalry.

If the AI does send their cavalry ahead and finds the cavalry finds itself facing enemy archer fire, the cavalry should fall back behind the main army and regroup, waiting for an opportunity to counterattack.

The only time I would advise taking a more aggressive move is if the AI knows the player does not have a lot of foot archers.

Khuzaits are the only faction for which this is somewhat viable

The Khuzaits I think are the only real faction that this can really work because the AI for horse archers seems to be the most competent among the AI classes and simply because their army is very much dominated by the mounted archers. Their mounted bowmen can take on foot archers and start circling around the enemy army effectively. Even then I would argue that they are better off charging with infantry together with their cavalry in a combined arms tactic. If they do skirmish, the Khuzaits should keep their cavalry at maximum archer range.

I suspect that this may be why many players feel that in field battles, the AI plays them the best.

Other factions can't really make this work as well. They rely more heavily on cavalry with melee and throwing weapons, even when the other factions do have mounted archers.

What is needed is more effective use of combined arms across the board

Perhaps this illustrates a bigger problem - the AI needs to make more effective use of coordination between the different types of units.

This ineffective use of tactics is often why players are able to pull off victories when they are outnumbered substantially against the AI. I think that a better AI that used better tactics and was more responsive towards the changing conditions of the battlefield would make for a better game overall. The AI also needs to take into account the composition of the player's army. If a player has few foot archers for example, that makes charging the cavalry more aggressively a bit more viable if they can get behind the enemy.

It is not an easy problem to solve - programming an AI is one of the toughest parts of any computer game.

There are other more advanced tactics, such as feints that I would love to see the AI do, but right now, the basics is the most important.
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i noticed when you are in armies, they treat their cavalry right, but when you fight them alone their tactics are less subtle. could it maybe be because of personalities? like in warband the hot headed ones did not care much for tactic and just wanted to run you over at all cost

also agreed the khuzaits are very powerful, you are guaranteed to win if you join their side, and to get your butt kicked if you are their neighbor, especially as empire faction. im not 100% sure as i havent experienced enough fights, but the empire looks to be the weakest faction overall, though i also got kicked into the mud really hard by sturgians and vlandians when i played with battania. (but that was back when it was really bugged. i love battanian fighting style)
i think if they make armors work stronger on all infantry and cavalry, so that khuzait archers cannot easily one shot or land two lethal hits, that would help make it balanced. horse archers main strength should just be distraction and picking out low tiers and fleeing troops, not being so deadly. and if they are lucky to land a headshot then that will give a good punch too. let the khuzait infantry and cavalry be their real lethal sidekick instead, albeit a fewer amount than other factions. thats where the distraction should help out :smile:

when that is fixed and balanced appropriately, i think they should improve horse archers aim. they are really terrible at hitting sideways moving targets, not understanding that they are in motion like foot archers can do. same issue in warband, so i hope it can be fixed. if it can, then they better make their accuracy somewhat terrible when racing their horses so they dont feel like bots using aimbot. except for maybe lords and ladies if they use ranged, they are supposed to be scary

overall i really liked that bows were weak and had poor accuracy until you had a lot of skill points invested in them and used them often in warband. and you could feel proud of your low tier archers when they managed to kill a looter or a recruit with their terrible aim. it felt like a skill that needed a lot of attention to be good enough, but once your character was a developed archer, it was really useful, very fast, and very deadly. right now you can just easily kill with a bow with no skill in it. very strange and very unsatisfying
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