After some playtesting, well playing really, the testing was just a side effect, here's another release of Concentrated Vanilla. Previous posts: 0.02, 0.04.
This release tries its best at making cavalry less overpowered. The problem isn't really how strong knights are - they're supposed to be given right conditions, just how cheap and versatile they are - all knight army beats balanced army of twice the price in almost every situation.
The first thing that needed to be done was making sieges harder.
- Walls and gates are 5x stronger. Towers are not. This leads to many interesting tactics where siege engines are used just as a part of strategy, not for one unit of ballistas to take down the walls of a fortress.
- Towers fire 50% faster, and most importantly the distance needed to activate the tower is now 8x bigger. So a single unit can activate half of the towers in a minor city, and even relatively modest garrison can keep every single tower in a citadel active. The radius used to be almost infinite in previous versions, but I think it's strategically richer this way.
- Missile infantry (but not cavalry) has twice the ammo. This is useful in field battles too, but mostly in siege defenses.
- Unlike in previous versions, rams are no longer specially nerfed, gates are strong enough now that it's not really needed.
- To limit the spy spam loophole, spies cost 2x more to recruit and upkeep.
- Not really about sieges, but bodyguards are now 1hp, half size, and all cavalry is 50% more expensive in recruitment and upkeep (per soldier, so bodyguard unit ends up 25% cheaper). This makes faction-specific units much more important, and factions more varied.
- Everybody moves 75% faster on campaign map. This together with stronger settlement defenses means it's much easier to have empire in non-compact shape. It now makes sense to cherry-pick interesting settlements instead of going for the closest ones because quality didn't matter, and to defend them all later by quickly transporting soldiers from your recruitment centres.
- King's purse is 2x bigger. Not a big deal to big countries, but it helps small ones a lot.
- All buildings take 1 turn to build. Except for mines they are all 50% more expensive. This means you can spend your money on developing your existing settlements, instead of just to buying armies and expanding like in vanilla.
- Merchant trade 50% more valuable.
- Settlement trade 50% more valuable.
- Mines are 3x more expensive, and return 3x more money. This all tremendously increases profitability of good and well-developed settlements. In vanilla it was mostly about quantity.
- Tax effects on settlement growth 2x bigger, so low taxes are +1%, very high are -2%, not +0.5% / -1% like in vanilla.
- Pirates and brigands spawn 4x less often, but stronger by a similar factor. It reduces annoyance significantly without changing balance.