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  1. A while ago I wrote a concept for making playing Sparta seem more thematic through redesigning some of its core mechanics, giving it distinct early, middle, and late game options to explore. As the response was…not too responsive, I haven’t bothered refining it. Regardless, I want hopefully continue the conversation of increasing the options various factions offer from one game to the next by turning to the subject of Persia, which I find to be misrepresented. First I’d like to first explain the organisation of the Persian army. The numerical majority of forces in the army were provincial levies. These forces were typically not very disciplined and would serve as cannon fodder in many cases. The second kind of soldiers were practically a professional force that mainly consisted of Persians, Immortals. They were infantry, consisting of 10,000 men of which 1,000 were an elite force called Apple-Bearers, the best. In general, this force was a capable army, but the Apple-Bearers were the greatest of them (As a source, I would recommend reading “Immortals and Apple Bearers: Towards a Better Understanding of Achaemid Infantry Units” by Michael B. Charles.). Finally, the nobility formed arguably the best of the Persian military: the cavalry. Thus, having established this, I would propose that there be a provincial barracks. This would serve to train the levies, who would work as citizen-soldiers. Since they would never be professional and drill often, these units should not accrue experience. Their role should be primarily economic, but also should be excellent for dying for the greater good. The Immortal infantry would have two modes, archer and spearman. Hypothetically it could just be a unit that can switch between weapons. Either way, they should be able to beat most citizen soldier infantry, but be beaten by other champion infantry in straight fights. Their advantage would lie in decent reliability alongside multi-purpose roles. Naturally, being a standing army, immortals would be of the champion class. The Apple-bearer could be a number of things. For instance, Immortals could gradually gain experience until they promote into them. Alternatively, they could be a specialised unit that only is trained in one building. Either way, the Apple-Bearer's role should be roughly identical to that of the Immortal, only being much better at it. Finally, cavalry would remain largely the way they are, possibly starting at level two at the cost of a longer training time to reflect their elitism. Thanks for reading my ideas on the subject, and I'd like to know yours.
  2. There has been a lot of discussion of how the meta of 0 A.D is haphazard, with typically only one strategy dominating the game. These points have merits, but while buffing and nerfing a single type of unit may seem like the best/easiest option, it seems better to look at the units in the context of which faction they are in since there should be a large difference between the functionality of a Roman Triarius to that of a Mauryan counterpart. Thus, I would like to use a single civilisation, Sparta, as a general template for this approach. The focus will basically be on the units, but the changes should affect other parts of the game. As another note, I will be using generic names to make the article more user-friendly. Please understand that my intention is not to make completely formed document but instead a base by which others can provide feedback; my hope is that some of this would see presence in the base game, but regardless, this approach should lead to a better purposed approach to both design and balance. There are limitations to this since 0 A.D. does not depict development chronologically, but my hope is that this method is a reasonable balance between the dynamics of history and gameplay. Village Phase Units: Spartan Hoplite In considering how to make Sparta, having the most prominent unit type withheld until the late game seems an absurd choice. Rather, this unit should play a central role throughout the game for Sparta. Training: Although the player would start with one Spartan, training more would require the construction of the mess hall, a building that trains heroes and provides the basis of upgrades to the Spartan units. After this structure has been completed, Spartan hoplites would be able to be trained at the Civic Centre. Spartan hoplites have long training times, which can be quickened with later technologies, but in general, this unit would be difficult to mass. Besides boasting a large defense, one of the biggest advantages would be a decently ranged aura to buff friendly mêlée infantry units' attack and defense. By researching the technology "Tyrtaean Hymns," the slow Spartan movement could be increased to allow them to better match the speeds of faster units. On the other hand, "Squires" would allow this aura to affect helots, making them significantly better at fighting. Later upgrades could make Spartans cause a fear aura, make their train time much faster, or simply buff their stats. Simply speaking, the player could have a great deal a freedom in customizing their Spartans to the needs of their game. Spartan Women: Women in the current meta are weak and vulnerable units. The same should not be said for Spartan Female units. With a faster movement speed and higher hp pool, these units should be able to better hold out against raiding until help arrives. Aside from building defensive buildings, they should offer an inspirational aura that makes helot units perform much better when fighting in their territory. Nonetheless, this makes them only support units albeit valuable ones. The only disadvantage they, like the Spartan hoplite, would suffer from is a long training time. Women would be trained at the Civic Centre only. Helots: Making up the next part of the Spartan roster, Helots should play a central but unique role that reflects their class. Helots would be strictly armed workers, wearing only the lightest equipment. Like the aforementioned units, they would only be trained at the Civic Centre but at a faster rate. When fighting alone in friendly territory, they would be mediocre at best, but outside, they would be only cannon-fodder unless Spartans with the right upgrades were nearby. In the later phases, a technology could be researched to free specific ones for a certain cost, making the freed helots significantly better in combat and lacking the penalties in neutral and enemy territory. They would benefit, as already mentioned, from the presence of specific units. Skiritae: Yes this unit would be available at the village phase and would be the only unit trainable at the barracks during this phase. It would retain all the features it currently possesses. Its main value would be as a harrassing unit at this point, but it could also be used to deal with raiding units your opponent would field. It would benefit from Spartan auras, making sending a Spartan hoplite in conjunction with a raid an excellent choice for heavier damage. In later parts of the game, this unit could see action in raids but as other units become more efficient with this function and Skiritae benefit from fighting near Spartans, their role would become one of bolstering flanks of formations. Town Phase: Periokoi: Like the Spartan hoplite, this would be a frontline unit, but despite its lacking powerful auras and the large stats of Spartan hoplites, they would be a force to be reckoned with, almost on par with standard Athenian hoplites, and potentially better if a Spartan hoplite is with them. Their gather rates would be decent, not as good as helots but better than Skiritae, but the main advantage would be the ease by which they could be massed. These would be trained at the barracks. Boetian Allied Cavalry: These units would be expensive but potentially powerful even in small numbers. Unlike the Skiritae, which are both shock and frontline troops, Allied Cavalry would only be shock troops. This would require researching Boetian Alliance, however. These cavalry would be spear cavalry and trained at the barracks for the standard cost plus some metal. Altogether, I would see this as more of a force to field if an enemy uses a mainly ranged unit composition or as a means of harassing some workers. City Phase: Spartan Pikemen: In the final phase there would be the option to reform the Spartan military, modernizing it. The results would be that Spartan hoplites would be transformed into the following unit, making their training time significantly faster while still retaining powerful stats. The aura they formerly had would be gone though, and they would be expensive to maintain in production for very long. If timed correctly though, a Spartan player could beeline to this technology, hoping to quickly overwhelm their opponents. This could be just one of a few options for how Spartan hoplites could evolve. If the player wished to maintain quality over quantity, they could research a technology that favors the aristocrats. Yet another path could be a way of getting some of both things, allowing @#$% sons to be legitimized. Since each of these could favor specific unit compositions, it would allow the player to operate with that framework in mind, having build orders that could play to the different strengths. Olynthian Skirmisher Cavalry: As technologies could gradually make Boetian cavalry more purposes towards supporting Spartan phalanxes, this unit could arise as a potential trash unit as resources dwindle and raiding becomes a matter of resource efficiency. These units would be cheap due to them being levies of allies have an average training time. While they would be pretty squishy, their speed and affordability would be their selling point as resources grow scarce.
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