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Should Camel Archers be Mercenaries?


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At the moment camel archers are simply citizen soldiers.  One of the first problem with this approach is that they are Nabatean, an area that as far as I am aware was never formally under Ptolemaic rule.  I would support instead having them be mercenary units to better make the distinction between citizen soldiers and mercenaries in the game more consistent while also working to reflect the emphasis this kingdom placed on mercenary based armies.

I would appreciate anyone with more knowledge on the Ptolemaic kingdom to voice their thoughts as the successor states are not an area of expertise for me.

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41 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

At the moment camel archers are simply citizen soldiers.  One of the first problem with this approach is that they are Nabatean, an area that as far as I am aware was never formally under Ptolemaic rule.  I would support instead having them be mercenary units to better make the distinction between citizen soldiers and mercenaries in the game more consistent while also working to reflect the emphasis this kingdom placed on mercenary based armies.

I would appreciate anyone with more knowledge on the Ptolemaic kingdom to voice their thoughts as the successor states are not an area of expertise for me.

I don't know much about history but the camels are pretty strong units. They may be inferior to javelinist cavalry in terms of hunting but can do huge damage in a rush. I guess from a balancing perspective, giving Ptolemies a camel to start with is not too OP. Citizen camels sound strong but is actually very expensive for the Ptolemaic player, because the Ptolemy units also eat a lot (by default you need 12 fields for a good boom, even with farming tech). If you want to spam camels then you probably need 16 fields or more...

So I guess the camel balance is good. If you want to turn it into a mercenary unit then Ptolemies will have no citizen soldier cavalry, which might not be a good thing. I don't know how Ptolemies will do with a javelin cavalry, I will need you to test that for me. (I will put it in bellum mod)

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2 hours ago, Yekaterina said:

So I guess the camel balance is good. If you want to turn it into a mercenary unit then Ptolemies will have no citizen soldier cavalry, which might not be a good thing. I don't know how Ptolemies will do with a javelin cavalry, I will need you to test that for me. (I will put it in bellum mod)

This is not necessarily about balance strictly speaking although it would impact the civilisation.  I'm not approaching this from a perspective of camel archers being overpowered.  You do make a fair point about the citizen soldier cavalry aspect, but I would say that the Ptolemies were more famous for being the breadbasket of the Mediterranean than hunter-gathers.  I could see the introduction of some farming bonus being a good way of reflecting that and maybe compensating for their weaker early game economy.  I'd even say it would be a good, substantive way of differentiating the faction from others as their approach to cavalry rushes would as a result differ.

With those points in mind, does that sound more viable to any degree?

On a separate note, I expect people to disagree with my suggestions and argumentations.  I am a fallible individual with a vision for the game that probably differs from everyone to some degree, but if there is dissent over my suggestions, I would advise actually attacking the arguments themselves rather than merely putting a confused emoji over my posts.  That does nothing to further constructive dialogue.

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1 hour ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

I could see the introduction of some farming bonus being a good way of reflecting that and maybe compensating for their weaker early game economy.

At the moment, Ptolemies economy is OP throughout the game, due to the cheap houses. They have the fastest boom right now, possibly the same as Mauryans if not even faster. The camel is used for hunting chickens, which is significant before minute 2, therefore brutally removing the unit will hurt them too much. 

However, there are solutions:

1. Bonus in food gather rate - removes the need for cavalry. 

2. Replace the camel with something different, e.g. an extra infantry unit like the Thebans

Either ways, the camel rush is gone. 

Was there any other historical unit that the Ptolemies can use to rush / defend? Or should the Ptolemies be a rush-free civ?

Note: Pikemen rush is not feasible. Slinger rush is almost useless in A25. 

Feasible rushes in A25: archer, skirmisher, cavalry, Sword infantry. 

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1 hour ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Ptolemies were more famous for being the breadbasket of the Mediterranean than hunter-gathers.  I could see the introduction of some farming bonus

You make Ptolemies sound very similar to the Han Chinese in Terra Magna (not Stan's version). I think a berry collection bonus is more effective than farming bonus for early game and wouldn't upset other balancing issues. The farming bonus in A23 was removed for a reason. 

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57 minutes ago, Yekaterina said:

1. Bonus in food gather rate - removes the need for cavalry. 

2. Replace the camel with something different, e.g. an extra infantry unit like the Thebans

Either ways, the camel rush is gone. 

Was there any other historical unit that the Ptolemies can use to rush / defend? Or should the Ptolemies be a rush-free civ?

Note: Pikemen rush is not feasible. Slinger rush is almost useless in A25. 

Feasible rushes in A25: archer, skirmisher, cavalry, Sword infantry. 

Good points to know.  A food gather rate bonus for berries as you mentioned would be a reasonable idea.  I do wonder if making camel archers mercenaries would remove the possibility of a rush entirely. Obviously they would contribute nothing to the economic engine, which would make the choice a gamble, but I wouldn't write that off completely (That all said, I have never strived to play 0 AD on a competitive level and as such lack the ability to comment on the meta as much as a good number of others.).

Your mentioning the Ptolemies being being unable to rush doesn't sound horrible either honestly.  When I think of factions that should be able to play aggressively, ones like the Romans, Britons, and Gauls come to mind, yet I'm sure that sort of choice might upset a good number of players.  

I would maybe aim to make slingers into more viable units for rushing as that sounds like the bigger problem at hand more than anything else.  Is there any specific reason to make them significantly worse than other classes other than for the purpose nerfing some factions?

55 minutes ago, Yekaterina said:

You make Ptolemies sound very similar to the Han Chinese in Terra Magna (not Stan's version). I think a berry collection bonus is more effective than farming bonus for early game and wouldn't upset other balancing issues. The farming bonus in A23 was removed for a reason. 

I'm not sure what the farming bonus in alpha 23 was, but there are a large number of available options for farming bonuses aside from a flat increase to gather rates such as decreasing the cost; that all said, if farming has few effects in the early game, I suppose that this has little value for this topic specifically.

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decreasing the cost of fields seems like a very good idea for enhancing ptole early eco (one builds fields right after finishing berries, and this requires a lot of wood all together, so a bonus like that would be very helpful).

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@alre I like this idea, but I don't like making camels a mercenary. Mercenaries are very bad right now, and camel rush is OP and frustrating, but also unique and diverse.

I know ptols are already the less wood intensive, and I think a 80 wood farm rather than 100 wood farm would be an interesting bonus. When balancing, however, you should keep in mind that in a25, ptols will get their own food trickle bonus applied to themselves.

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50 minutes ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

@alre I like this idea, but I don't like making camels a mercenary. Mercenaries are very bad right now, and camel rush is OP and frustrating, but also unique and diverse.

I'm glad that people are receptive to the idea of a farm bonus.  Regarding the mercenaries, I do not want to eliminate the possibility of a rush; rather, it would merely change into something I would argue would be even more unique and diverse, both of which I would assume would be good things while hopefully providing a nerf making it less frustrating.  

This sort of change would make the rush somewhat unsustainable as it would require heavy metal usage, but the units themselves would be higher quality than typical citizen soldier counterparts.  

What sounds to be the bigger problem in this case is the state of mercenaries more than anything else.  As things are tweaked for the eventual alpha 26, I suspect that we will  be able to better consider this proposal.

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1 hour ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

I'm glad that people are receptive to the idea of a farm bonus.  Regarding the mercenaries, I do not want to eliminate the possibility of a rush; rather, it would merely change into something I would argue would be even more unique and diverse, both of which I would assume would be good things while hopefully providing a nerf making it less frustrating.  

This sort of change would make the rush somewhat unsustainable as it would require heavy metal usage, but the units themselves would be higher quality than typical citizen soldier counterparts.  

What sounds to be the bigger problem in this case is the state of mercenaries more than anything else.  As things are tweaked for the eventual alpha 26, I suspect that we will  be able to better consider this proposal.

Did you see the discussion about p1 mercenaries? the forum is worth a read, but we reached an impasse, and most ideas brought up there were at least partially unsatisfactory for a quite a few people.

The end result of the p1 mercs discussion was that we should see how they are in a25. If mercenaries are balanced to be less outrageous in metal cost, but still metal intense (like skiri) then I feel a p1 merc rush could be an easier thing to balance and implement. To be honest, modeling merc cost after skiritai cost would make everything related to mercenaries easier.

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22 hours ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

The end result of the p1 mercs discussion was that we should see how they are in a25. If mercenaries are balanced to be less outrageous in metal cost, but still metal intense (like skiri) then I feel a p1 merc rush could be an easier thing to balance and implement. To be honest, modeling merc cost after skiritai cost would make everything related to mercenaries easier.

I did read it, which is why I think that it is viable and worthwhile to make camel archers mercenaries.  Clearly it will take some time to figure out the mercenary meta, but that problem alone should not discourage the developers from experimenting by making a mercenary in name be actually a mercenary.

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I gave it some further thought and here are my conclusions:

1. Do make camel archers mercenaries, costing 60 metal. 

2. Give the Ptol player 1 free camel at the beginning of the game.

3. Still allow training camels from the CC, but as mercenaries. 

The expensive price of camels means your starting 300 metal can only get you 5 extra camels, giving a total of 6. This is enough for a small rush early on but at the cost of not being able to research any early techs, which is a huge trade-off. In late game players are discouraged from spamming camels because the metal could be used more effectively elsewhere. 

We can combine this idea with Nescio's idea of making camels have 120 health but slightly slower than cavalry. 

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1 hour ago, Yekaterina said:

I gave it some further thought and here are my conclusions:

1. Do make camel archers mercenaries, costing 60 metal. 

2. Give the Ptol player 1 free camel at the beginning of the game.

3. Still allow training camels from the CC, but as mercenaries. 

The expensive price of camels means your starting 300 metal can only get you 5 extra camels, giving a total of 6. This is enough for a small rush early on but at the cost of not being able to research any early techs, which is a huge trade-off. In late game players are discouraged from spamming camels because the metal could be used more effectively elsewhere. 

We can combine this idea with Nescio's idea of making camels have 120 health but slightly slower than cavalry. 

I was thinking about this too, with the "mercs in p1" topic. I think training them with starting metal could be allowed depending on mercenary training time. I feel that an upgrade of (200 food 100 wood 100 metal, 20 second upgrade) available from barracks would be a good addition to prevent the instant spam that would be boring due to the lack of an economic road to get the merc rush. The cost of this upgrade still allows the instantaneous purchase of mercenaries after barracks, but means that it would be only a few, making that a higher risk mercenary rush. It also allows a more delayed mercenary rush where you still get women and CS, but leave some mining metal.

Overall, I feel putting mercenaries in p1 for some civs could partly justify their still outrageous metal cost, and allow for more diverse p1 and p2 military/economic strategies (right now it is mostly just focus all on wood and food).

To be honest, I would rather see the p1 mercenary for ptol be the skirmisher unit rather than the camel. camels are needed for eco, and skirmisher units are already mercenaries. Making camels mercenaries would leave ptol with only 2 CS units, pike and sling.

Edited by BreakfastBurrito_007
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2 hours ago, Yekaterina said:

I gave it some further thought and here are my conclusions:

1. Do make camel archers mercenaries, costing 60 metal. 

2. Give the Ptol player 1 free camel at the beginning of the game.

3. Still allow training camels from the CC, but as mercenaries. 

The expensive price of camels means your starting 300 metal can only get you 5 extra camels, giving a total of 6. This is enough for a small rush early on but at the cost of not being able to research any early techs, which is a huge trade-off. In late game players are discouraged from spamming camels because the metal could be used more effectively elsewhere. 

We can combine this idea with Nescio's idea of making camels have 120 health but slightly slower than cavalry. 

I would definitely like to see this tested to see what others think after some matches.  Then I think we can properly establish whether this admittedly unorthodox setup could work or not.  Do you think that you could make a mod for these changes to see what happens?

The concerns that people have voiced might be quite valid, but I would note that I and others did mention a few options to compensate for the Ptolemaic early game.  Maybe it will be crippling nerf, but simply defending the status quo because it has made for a cornerstone of the meta is not a valid point.  It's the dependence on cavalry in the early game economy that makes strange things like Sparta beginning with cavalry rather than say... a Spartan a thing.  If this could work, it might allow for us to experiment with other more unique starting conditions that could diversify the civilisation roster.

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2 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Do you think that you could make a mod for these changes to see what happens?

Coming right up. 

3 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

The concerns that people have voiced might be quite valid, but I would note that I and others did mention a few options to compensate for the Ptolemaic early game.  Maybe it will be crippling nerf, but simply defending the status quo because it has made for a cornerstone of the meta is not a valid point.  It's the dependence on cavalry in the early game economy that makes strange things like Sparta beginning with cavalry rather than say... a Spartan a thing.  If this could work, it might allow for us to experiment with other more unique starting conditions that could diversify the civilisation roster.

Can you think of something that:

1. Very good at gathering meat

2. Travels quite fast and can carry out scouting/harassing missions. 

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Will the camel archer receive a nerf to its acuracy in A25? If so  then making them a merc could bring about some problems like our friend Gurken Khan mentioned. To combat their use nowadays as a omnipotent harrassment machine and still make them useful I would sugest giving a negative bonus( 0< multiplier < 1) to infantry and women in phase 1 that would disappear when the player reaches phase 2. This way you could still hunt and keep your harassment machines, although if you do go for the harassment route then you will need to commit to it since you'll need a good mass of them to achieve the intended result. Now this came to mind just now and I do not know if this is possible. In conclusion no they shouldn't be a merc.

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This would make one of the games most OP units 40% cheaper, allow players to use otherwise unused res, eliminate a res type so it is easier to manage, and make resource shuttling easier/cheaper. In total, this will make it far easier to spam camels.

This OP unit will also become stronger by virtue of being a merc and starting a rank 2. 

It would also severely hamper ptol's eco abilities on hunt maps. 

All results seem highly unfavorable. 

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50 minutes ago, Yekaterina said:

Can you think of something that:

1. Very good at gathering meat

2. Travels quite fast and can carry out scouting/harassing missions. 

Great work.  I think that you could just have a placeholder hellenistic settler cavalry unit using Macedonian assets.  I would go for it being melee myself, but that's just my thought.

29 minutes ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

@Yekaterina do you intend to give ptols a CS javelin cavalry unit to replace the food role of camels with this mod? or do you think ptol bonus is enough?

Something like that is the intention to her.  In fairness my shtick is just having camel mercenaries be mercenaries.  I think that seeing what a faction without citizen soldier cavalry would be an intriguing concept that is worth seeing in action, but I don't mind compromising.

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