Weapon Balance: Shields and Throwing Weapons

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Yertyl

Regular
So, after playing bannerlord pretty extensively, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the current state of weapon balance, on three points in particular. This is based on my experience in SP combat in general and a lot of arena practice fighting in particular, since that game mode forces you to use all different kinds of weapons.

Shield + sword vs two-handed weapons:
I originally wanted to focus my (second) character on two-handed axes, but:
  • When you fight against ranged opponents, you want a shield
  • when you fight against multiple opponents, you really want a shield
  • even in a duel with a melee character, I still prefer to use a sword + shield, since it almost eliminates the necessity of directional blocks, which is a huge advantage. It is relatively easy to mess up a directional block even after quite a bit of practice, but it is extremely hard to hit around a raised shield even with good footwork. Yes, two-handed weapons do more damage and have slightly better reach, but one-handed swords swing faster, which IMO is the superior advantage.
Even in the ideal situation for two-handed weapons, I would pick sword + shield over a two-handed weapon. Infantry without shields is very niche, and die a lot. You can of course say that this is realistic, and to an extent it is, but this brings me to my second point:

Use of throwing weapons against shields
If you are interested in the topic, you can e.g. read this reddit thread, but the essence is this (quote):
With the right tactics, the thrown 'spear' turned out to just as effective as the held spear when breaking a shield wall, and more so in terrain where the phalanx didn't work.
In real life, a shield with a spear stuck through it is a lot more difficult to use, which is why legionnaires threw their pila before charging in with the sword. Since that is difficult to simulate, a natural alternative would be that throwing weapons do significant damage to shield health. In the current state of the game, however...
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Shield health is really really high, to the point of being meaningless, since in my experience there is almost no realistic scenario in which your shield will break. Which is fine against (cross)bows, since these are really really good weapons themselves, but in other scenarios shields should have some kind of counter.
I think weapon and infantry balance would be much improved if axes/maces and throwing weapons had a realistic chance of actually destroying shields, say in ~4 hits for the average shield (depending on the weapon).
And I think throwing weapons need a niche to compete with (cross)bows because

Ranged weapon accuracy
With my character, I went out of my way to not use (cross)bows, because I wanted to focus on throwing weapons. But after finally picking up a bow in a practice fight, I was surprised to be able to land headshots immediately, sometimes 4 in a row and more, at distances which would make it difficult to hit a target with a throwing weapon at all, even with a lot of skill points and practice with the latter and zero with the former. I assume that it's realistic that people are more accurate with bows than spears, but not 4 headshots in a row on your first try more accurate.
On the other hand, throwing weapons were often thrown when charging in, and indeed, it is difficult to make a powerful spear-throw without taking a few steps automatically. But in-game, moving with a throwing weapon shoots your accuracy to pieces to such a degree that I find myself stopping my charge dead for a short while to actually let lose a throwing weapon, even at very close range (below 10m). It looks pretty awkward. So, to balance things out for ranged weapons a little bit, my last suggestions would be these:
  1. Lower (cross)bow accuracy a bit in general, at least for low skills. Ranged troops are very powerful in general, and the amount of headshots you can land with these weapons from the very start seems a bit ridiculous.
  2. Significantly lower accuracy penalty for moving on foot for throwing weapons. At least for the spear, it is much more natural to throw it while moving compared to a bow, and it would go with their "let loose while charging in" niche.
So yeah, together with making shields less effective in general, and against throwing weapons in particular, I feel like this would go a long way in lowering the dominance of archers and shields, and giving throwing and two-handed weapons their role.

Sorry for the wall of text, and please discuss :smile:
 
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Askorti

Sergeant Knight at Arms
WB
To be honest, I strongly believe that shields should trump two handed weapons. There are many very good reasons why in history the vast majority of troops used shields for literal millennia. Two handed weapons are just not good for the battlefield in most combat scenarios.

As for thrown weapons, I agree that they could use some love, including their anti-shield use.

As for the accuracy of bows. I believe that what should be done is to change the way the reticle works, not how accurate your character is. Basically, make it so that you always more or less hit in the center of the reticle, but the size of it, and thus, the difficulty of actually finding that center, would be higher.
 

AndrewArt

Sergeant
Yeah thrown weapons suck. They nerfed them to the ground... now they are pretty much useless. Them being strong against shields would make sense and hopefully that will be one role for them in the future.
 

Medivhtratos

Sergeant at Arms
There are perks for that{regarding throwing} but I think the skill lvl is to high. Except the skill where you can penetrate shields. If you reach that, a shield wearer is no problem anymore. The best way to lvl this skill, is from horse, but it is a long way, since you can't have like 40 javelins. Maybe they should add a way where when you doesn't throw a throwing weapon, you still get exp for using it.
 

Yertyl

Regular
To be honest, I strongly believe that shields should trump two handed weapons. There are many very good reasons why in history the vast majority of troops used shields for literal millennia. Two handed weapons are just not good for the battlefield in most combat scenarios.

As for thrown weapons, I agree that they could use some love, including their anti-shield use.

As for the accuracy of bows. I believe that what should be done is to change the way the reticle works, not how accurate your character is. Basically, make it so that you always more or less hit in the center of the reticle, but the size of it, and thus, the difficulty of actually finding that center, would be higher.
Well, as far as I know two-handed swords and axes were pretty rare on battlefields, but polearms (e.g. halberds) were not. It of course depends on the time period and situation...
But concerning realism vs gameplay, since I think we can safely assume that two-handed weapons and troops will at this point not simply vanish, I think it's better to give them a niche as shield-destroyers (and indirectly by nerfing shields vs everything that is not an arrow or bolt) than to to have them in the game but effectively be useless. Also, from a realism perspective spear + shield would need to be a lot more useful in infantry combat than it is atm -- though that had a lot to do with formations and other stuff that is not really feasible to implement, so realism is a bit limited either way.

I just did a small test on bow accuracy btw, see this thread if you are interested, and its current state does seem pretty insane to me, even with a bigger crosshair.
 

AnandaShanti

Sergeant Knight at Arms
Two handed really gets the short end in Bannerlord. Not only with you die to archers asap, but polearm weapons like Glaive and rhompia are just way better at doing what two handers are supposed to do.

Did they remove the CTB from polearms? I'm not sure, but doing so would at least give 2 handers back that exclusive ability.
 

vonbalt

Knight at Arms
WBNWVCM&B
Yeah thrown weapons suck. They nerfed them to the ground... now they are pretty much useless. Them being strong against shields would make sense and hopefully that will be one role for them in the future.
Realistic battles mod does this and it's awesome, one or two javelins/throwing axes will wreak all but the best shields in-game so they have their niche as shield-destroyers which is awesome.

Love using imperial troops and destroying the enemy shields before advancing in shieldwall for example, closest to reality as we can get in game to simulate the pillum function of bending in the shields and turning them useless.
 

Yertyl

Regular
Two handed really gets the short end in Bannerlord. Not only with you die to archers asap, but polearm weapons like Glaive and rhompia are just way better at doing what two handers are supposed to do.

Did they remove the CTB from polearms? I'm not sure, but doing so would at least give 2 handers back that exclusive ability.
Yeah, I feel like to make two-handed weapons viable they would need to be really really good against infantry (and decent against cav) to balance out how horrible they naturally are against archers.
As it is, it seems to go in another direction, with bolt deflection having been patched in as a mandatory perk (has anyone tested this yet btw), but only for swords -- which doubly screws over two-handed axes. It's weird.
Of course, every nerf to bows and shields is an indirect buff to two-handers.
 

Askorti

Sergeant Knight at Arms
WB
Well, as far as I know two-handed swords and axes were pretty rare on battlefields, but polearms (e.g. halberds) were not. It of course depends on the time period and situation...
But concerning realism vs gameplay, since I think we can safely assume that two-handed weapons and troops will at this point not simply vanish, I think it's better to give them a niche as shield-destroyers (and indirectly by nerfing shields vs everything that is not an arrow or bolt) than to to have them in the game but effectively be useless. Also, from a realism perspective spear + shield would need to be a lot more useful in infantry combat than it is atm -- though that had a lot to do with formations and other stuff that is not really feasible to implement, so realism is a bit limited either way.

I just did a small test on bow accuracy btw, see this thread if you are interested, and its current state does seem pretty insane to me, even with a bigger crosshair.
Twohanded polearms only really got popular when armor got good enough for the wielder to not get shot to pieces. Incidentally, that's also when pikes and two handed swords get their use as well.
Before that twohanded weapons, such as dane axes were rare, exactly because bows were indeed such potent weapons on the battlefield.

Also, I'm all for making spear+shield take its rightful place on Bannerlord battlefields. The fact that this combo is essentially completely useless hurts my soul.

As for your archery test, I will answer that in the thread you linked.
 

geala

Sergeant at Arms
I'm usually armed with spear/lance, javelins, mace/axe and shield. I actually never used bow or crossbow, except in the arena. I'm playing without reticle and am currently using Realistic Battle Mod, so it's difficult to judge about vanilla.

With RBM (in 1.5.6), throwing weapons are mostly ok. For my taste shields break too quickly in RBM and I increased shield hp of the better ones, the rest is acceptable.

I would opt, like the OP, that the movement penalty for throwing weapons should go or at least be greatly reduced. It has it's place for bows and crossbows but it does not make so much sense for a more or less instinctive aiming move like with throwing stuff.
 

htlaets

Recruit
Shields are fine, especially well made shields had flexible material on top of the wood for shock absortption. Plus the wielding arm is flexible too and neutralizes an additional amount of the force.

It is superior against non-shield opponents as it should be, like you mentioned, the use of twohanded weapons in the battlefield was rare, in the battle of hastings to example, the huscarls with their 2handed axes were behind the shieldwall and sallied out occasionally to fight and then retreated back behind the shielded units again and again.
There is nothing wrong in the picture with so many javelins sticking into the shield, many of them, especially the axes wouldnt even stick so easily, firstly becasue axes dont land always with the head and even then, a stick is not guaranteed.

And when the shield breaks, it would so only partially and when it breaks completely, you still have the iron shield boss which still offers some protection, but is guess its hard to implement such realistic details into the game.
Only big axes and halberd-like polearms could do serious damage against shields.

You are right with the unreal pinpoint accuracy of bows and crossbows, they should be less accurate.

POWER TO THE SHIELDS, NERF TO THE 2HANDED WANNABE RAMBOS AND ROBIN HOODS !!!
MEDIEVAL MELEE COMBAT WAS SHIELDED COMBAT, IF YOU DONT LIKE IT, GO PLAY CONAN THE BARBARIAN OR SIMILAR FANTASY THINGS!
 

Apocal

Master Knight
Yeah, the nerf to throwing accuracy at a run is a bit much and doesn't make much sense.
Well, as far as I know two-handed swords and axes were pretty rare on battlefields, but polearms (e.g. halberds) were not. It of course depends on the time period and situation...
Men using halberds were generally in plate armor; wearing their shield, in other words.
 
And two-handed axes were found with peasant levvies who had to use their everyday's tools as a weapon (war scythe, lumberman's axe, picks). And lots of balanced, optimized forms like the glaive or halberd evolved from these tools. Those could be impressively efficient because of their sheer mass and force but also were unbalanced and their wielder prone to die in the first hail of arrows his unit was exposed - no money for armor. I concur with Apocal: heavy armor removed the necessity for a shield as you as a matter of fact wieded it. But for stuff like chain mail and below a shield is a good supplement or when you know you are going somewhere, where many archers are. Sometimes I feel armor is a bit too weak for certain situations. Whacking looters for instance. They throw enough stuff at you but frankly they only need a few hits to stone you even in almost full plate armor. Anybody apt at telling me how armor value works? Is it a percentual reduction or flat number removed from damage?
 

Vanka

Banned
who in the world use trown weapon in bannerlord? this is totally usless skill for player. but for ur troops its op
 

Tajl

Squire
Huge problem in this game is armor system.

When armor balance is off weapons cant be balanced. It just doesn't work.

Armors just doesn't work like they should. You can easily kill plated enemy with few sword stabs. No need to use heavier weapons. And even if you would have best armor in game looters can easily kill you with few throwing stones and high end bows kill you with 2 shots.

If it would be hard to kill heavily armored enemies then there would be use for 2 hand weapons. And it wasn't only peasants who used them. Kings like Richard the Lionheart and Robert the Bruce used 2h axes.

When armors doesn't work you have to use shield and because those armors doesn't work there is not need for heavier weapons.
 
@Vanka: I would, if it had some impact like removing shields. Also, it only uses one of the 4 slots. If I take bow and arrow I need 2. So I can have a character with Sword, Shield, Pike/Lance and some ranged. Problem is: thrown weapons are not worth their salt currently as they are either nerfed beyond use or their usage is limited (too few missions in a city where heavy weapons and armor are off-limits).
@ TajI: Richard and Robert also had a good armor to risk barring their shields, right?
 

Althix

Sergeant
who in the world use trown weapon in bannerlord?
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javelins have their uses. for example, a javelin is a good tool when you want 100% certainty that a target would die.

however, i really don't like TW approach "the longer thing is, the more damage it can dish-out". I'm kinda forced to use two-handed axe on foot, because the spear has its problems, and in order to make it viable, i need to throw focus point in OneHanded or have 3 VGR.
If i craft a shorter, lighter spear, i will lose damage and my handling still will be worse than the handling of the mace, sword, or any-twohanded weapon. It's kinda nerdy fan-boish butthurt, but it's strange to see the most used and efficient weapon of medieval times to be so weak in comparison to other types of weapons
And it wasn't only peasants who used them.
if we would look at pictures, we may find a lot of fully armored dudes with poleaxes and halberds.
 

ratschbumm

Sergeant at Arms
M&BWBWF&SNWVC
No need to break shield with few javelins. Only to encumber. One javelin deducts 25% from speed and handling, two - 50%, 3 and more - 90%. 5% for an arrow. As the result we will have a shield still protecting from missiles, but little to none useless to melee. Like it was. For more immersion it possible to clean shield from missiles one by one exposing myself like reloading crossbowman.
 
The one logical resolution to shield wielding with javelins stuck to them would be modifying its weight for the time of the fight, so it would move slower a bit. I am not sure how weight affects shield handling, but it most certainly should.

Huge problem in this game is armor system.

When armor balance is off weapons cant be balanced. It just doesn't work.

Armors just doesn't work like they should. You can easily kill plated enemy with few sword stabs. No need to use heavier weapons. And even if you would have best armor in game looters can easily kill you with few throwing stones and high end bows kill you with 2 shots.

If it would be hard to kill heavily armored enemies then there would be use for 2 hand weapons. And it wasn't only peasants who used them. Kings like Richard the Lionheart and Robert the Bruce used 2h axes.

When armors doesn't work you have to use shield and because those armors doesn't work there is not need for heavier weapons.
As my realistic-loving half agrees with you, my developer rest yells: No.
Realistic approach to the armor simulation, or just making armored troops hard to kill would be harmful for the balance of the game, since mostly T3 units already have mail or something like that, with armored plating on almost every tier above. Obtaining them in the manner as it is done now would make weak factions completely irrelevant during wars, as one well trained party of 80 would take literal seas of recruits on the chest with not much loses. Even strong factions, after one major defeat would have little to no chances against the enemy who slaughtered them before.
Yes, from the historic point of view, it would be accurate, but not for game balance with current mechanics. Maybe in future there will be mod that would accurately portrait such disproportions, but for now it just is not applicable.
 
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