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How to make Non-Mounted units better without taking the fun away.

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Buffs and nerfs have been distributed to mounted units constantly throughout the series for riders and fliers, and they always (mostly) still seem to be dominant. Luckily for us 3H gave us all the tools back that made cavalry interesting, but at the cost of infantry feeling so weak in comparison that it almost feels really bad to use them.

So rather than nerfing mounts I suggest playing off of the fact that they are better by designing the maps around it. An example is in CH. 18 of Shadow Dragon (the big bridge) where in the bottom of the map there is a Palladin with a forged ridersbane, another with a silver lance, and a Horseman with a silver bow all with overlapping ranges which means anyone who tries to bait them over has to take 2 hits, and if they are any mounted unit they pretty much cannot survive at all. This requires an infantry who can take 2 hits, otherwise you need to player phase that group which is a lot more complicated because you risk missing and it puts you in range of more enemies that are behind that group.

Sadly this is only one out of a few times fe11 places enemies in formations like this which means mounts are still king for the most part. When I played 3H for the first time on BL route I was disappointed to only see a couple of ridersbane enemies throughout the entire game, the game just didn't ever punish me enough for using mounts.

So in short, you can keep the tools that mounts have (maybe minus dismount) but balance the game around the fact that they are so good, and make solutions to chapters easier with non-mounts which increases their value as a result.

Do you agree? is there a downside to this solution I am missing? I honestly can't think of a better solution. Also if you disagree what would you do?

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I agree that the map design has to punish mounts without being too severe (i.e the dreaded "Fliers have one less move Huehuehue" since that only makes you see all the times were one extra move would be useful and it isn't cool to feel like you miss out on something), enemy composition should be something and then most of the time mounted units are very powerful because they have all those crazy skills and good stats and out of these two, it's better to take away the good stats than the crazy gimmicks that make mounted units different from the rest, they still have to feel different while Balanced. So, I believe it's better to make them weaker which TH kind of did with it's speed reduction but I mean in a normal FE game like say 7 or 8, mounts just need to have lower bases in general. You can't really control this in TH because anyone can become a mounted unit, but that's my 2 cents on it.

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horseslayers seem icky because I don't like game design where every enemy has to be checked in order to avoid resets/divine pulses. There needs to be a visual indicator that somebody has an effective weapon, and the exclamation marks of modern games accomplish that so long as the player doesn't start auto piloting their unit placements. And with Three Houses aggro lines alerting you to threats offscreen, you often won't notice marks above enemies unless you play very zoomed out and at max slant. 

They could try more classes that specialize in taking out other classes. Archers already are the answer to fliers. Pikemen obviously deal with horses, and infantry should have no weakness unless they're expected to have higher stats than mounted units.  But designing a game like that would hamper unit customization and starts to turn Fire Emblem more into Advance Wars - a game where units are expendable by design. Having spears be the answer to horses also messes with the weapon triangle, but the last two non-spinoff fire emblem games ditched the weapon triangle completely so we don't know the next time we'll see that come back.

Ultimately the easiest answer is to address canto itself in order to keep infantry relevant. Infantry should be better fighters seeing as they have full control over their movement. I'd like a game where mounted units are incapable of doubling or have a much harder time doing so. Their style of combat is hit and run, the horse should theoretically never come to a stop and give you time for a followup attack. That should keep mounted units reliant on combat arts yet keeping them from being super stars who one round everything on both player phase and enemy phase.

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I personally really like the 3 Houses concept of defensive tiles not helping flying units. Let's take that a step further.

 

Defensive tiles grant reduced bonuses to cavalry units while restricting their movement.

 

Defensive tiles grant normal bonuses to infantry while not restricting movement. Mountains would still restrict movement.

 

Defensive tiles grant greatly enhanced bonuses to armored units while not restricting movement. Mountains would still restrict movement.

 

New tile type called roads which increases the movement of infantry and armored units while having no effect on cavalry or fliers.

Edited by Etheus

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24 minutes ago, Etheus said:

I personally really like the 3 Houses concept of defensive tiles not helping flying units.

Unless I'm grossly misunderstanding what you're saying, that's literally every game in the series.

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While effective weaponry could stand to be more common in some games, it's only a patchwork solution. Ignoring the increasing abundance of effectiveness nullifiers (especially on bosses), there are often plenty of workarounds, be it smart play (good) or brute-forcing it with avoid or defense (bad).

Terrain cost is the biggest area of improvement. Cavalry lived or died by the terrain; forests could stand to slow them more, non-desert sand isn't good for hooved animals, etc. I can also think of a few instances where fliers should suffer a movement penalty outdoors, such as the elevation of mountains requiring extra effort to overcome. Indoors should be a lot harder on them outside of specially-built open areas, a big animal is not going to get around comfortably indoors. Especially not with wings... have fun getting a pegasus or wyvern through a door. If you want good movement indoors, dismount.

And speaking of dismounting, chuck the Mount command and make it a one-way deal. Being able to trade movement types constantly makes it more of a buff in many cases.

But the thing I want to touch upon most is weapon diversity. There are many, many weapons that were impractical or outright unwieldy on a horse, and some that were only effective on one. Two-handed swords (Blade weapons), certain polearms, and longbows fell in the former category; and those big heavy jousting lances fell in the latter. Integrate that into the game and now we're getting somewhere, and dismounting gets an extra level of depth! You could do this with magic too if you want to keep unhealthy stuff off mounts.

Edited by X-Naut

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25 minutes ago, Etheus said:

I personally really like the 3 Houses concept of defensive tiles not helping flying units. Let's take that a step further.

Unless I'm misunderstanding, something, this isn't a 3H thing - it's pretty much universal that fliers don't get terrain bonuses.

27 minutes ago, Etheus said:

New tile type called roads which increases the movement of infantry and armored units while having no effect on cavalry or fliers.

Minor point, but roads increasing move isn't new - FE4 has road tiles that raise movement but reduce avoid. Though they aren't exclusive to infantry(though fliers aren't affected, as usual).

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8 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

Unless I'm grossly misunderstanding what you're saying, that's literally every game in the series.

You know, I'd never actually noticed it before. Perhaps 3H is just more explicit in tutorializing this mechanic.

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Honestly, just putting more forests and making the penalty a bit more severe would be enought. 

An out there idea that comes from my 3.5 boner is to use the disadvantage paladins have in it. Horses count as Large instead of Medium and takes more space, like a demonic beast in 3h meaning you can maneuver them nearly as precisely as you can move infranty and they can't enter into narrow spaces at all.

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Haven't fliers always benefited from the healing of healing tiles though? But yeah fliers not getting avoid or defense from terrain has been a thing since FE1.

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1 hour ago, Etheus said:

New tile type called roads which increases the movement of infantry and armored units while having no effect on cavalry or fliers.

FE4 had roads. As usual, fliers didn't benefit from them, but anything grounded did. Which, unfortunately for the game's balance, included mounts.

Anyway, I personally thought mounted units weren't that great in 3H, mostly - most of the cavalry classes take a speed penalty for being mounted, and second, Cavalier and Paladin both have -10 to speed growth, which can screw with someone's speed over the long term.

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i dont really see mounted units as that much better tbh unless were talking FE4. Three houses in general is very easy and other FEs i find make good use of the weapon arsenal. i can see enemy placement and map design being more thought out.  

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In regards to effectiveness, what if we remove dedicated cavalry/armor slayers and instead place these on some of the lesser classes.

 

Soldiers/halberdiers get cavalry effectiveness as a class skill due to their high proficiency with polearms.

 

Assassins get dedicated armor effectiveness as a class skill (high proficiency allows them to target weakpoints). Armors will still likely be able to power through due to high def, but this would help them substantially. 

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One thing I think might be a good idea (and based on actual medieval warfare) would be to have stakes as an item that can be planted in plain/grass/dirt terrain. It would block cavalry, but infantry would be able to pass right through. It wouldn't help with fliers, but it would help with cavalry. 

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I see two ways that might work. The first is to make it easy to use mounts to move your infantry around, but it shouldn't incentivize keeping infantry held like the pair-up mechanics, nor disincentivize holding them like the rescue mechanics (which might scare people off from using it), although this would lead to a preference for roughly half mounted army.

Another thought was to give infantry all of those odd movement options, but limit the valid targets so give them push, smite, and reposition when targeting allied  infantry, let them lunge or pull back enemies if they want, and let them pivot when targeting allied mounts, or switch if the space they would pivot to is blocked.

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when it comes to mounted and non mounted, and the disparity there in, the biggest and perhaps only problem really does come down to their movement being so much higher. consistently cavaliers tend to have lower overall stats and averages then other units, outside of some rather notable exceptions, and well pegasus knights tend to have larger stat totals and larger growths they also tend to be fragile as fuck. so when it comes to raw combat potential they usually arent any worse or better then any other unit, so the thing that has to be fixed is that busted move.

i think the easiest way to address that is by changing fe map design tenants more then anything. fewer large open spaces, more restricting terrain that infantry do better on, more missions and objectives that require you to stay still rather then move across the map (like defense missions), and more enemy design that punishes for moving too far forward too fast. another possibility is halfing terrain bonuses for mounted units (cause they big and skittish animals) but then i dont think the average fe player really notices those bonuses much in modern fe design.

fe heroes actually does hit one something i feel might kinda work. as opposed to just a terrain penalty mounted units in feh treat forests essentially as walls in their own right. and well going that far might be rather annoying  maybe simply having more forest tiles that infantry can cross and mounted units can not might help slow em down enough especially if those forests provided shortcuts or other such benefits such as better positioning against enemies. and well its not perfect shaving 1 mov from average flying mov values and creating more impassable flying terrain might help bump them down enough to not be so broke.

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One thing Genealogy did right on this front, IMO, was limiting Sword combat skills to Infantry. So Dew could pass Sol down to Patty (a Thief), but not Dermott (a Sword Rider). Three Houses does something similar, in how certain classes, through mastery, can gain exclusive combat arts (like Snipers getting Hunter's Volley). Perhaps the next game could offer more of these, or make certain combat arts unusable on mounted/flying classes. A more dramatic take would be to borrow another page from FE4 - remember how Pursuit was a skill that some units had, and some didn't? Well, what if all Infantry had Pursuit (save Armors, they can have Wary Fighter to neutralize Pursuit), but Mounted and Flying units don't, with Canto treated as their substitute? It would be a dramatic change, but I think it would be a way to balance these classes' great mobility and utility, with generally inferior combat ability.

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First the FE series seems all over the place, i.e if I knew how effective a Fighter with a Poleaxe would be maybe it could be a good way to check mounted units, also a Mage/Mages with a Fire or Thunder, or a Archer with a Hunter's bow, I think the main problem with FE is how difficult the creators want it to be, at the end of the day; the problem is that the enemies just aren't powerful enough.

Edited by Fates-Blade

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Make Cavalry only strong on the Charge (i.e. player phase) so that they can easily overwhelm infantry on the player phase but are quickly disposed of on the enemy phase. Armored Knights by contrast would be good on the enemy phase, effectively negating the bonuses of a cavalry charge but being a poor offensive choice. Infantry wouldn't have any weakness on player or enemy phase but wouldn't have a particular strength either.

How can this be done? By wrapping the stance and -blow skills into the movement class or class skills. Armored Knights would have armored stance and similar abilities giving them boosted armor or negating doubling when waiting or attacked on enemy phase. These skills would be locked to the cavalry and armored classes respectively and wouldn't be able to be given to other classes. Because Cavalry will be weaker than enemy infantry (using class mods) and reliant on their -blow (renamed charge) skills for effectiveness, canto will be used to move them to safety rather than simply pushing further forwards. Armored units will maintain many of their classic weaknesses but have their movement buffed to infantry standards, they won't be good for attacking enemies but will instead be used to wait and bait enemies, they'll also have a skill to make them more likely to be attacked (like Shinon's provoke). Infantry will be defined by the weapons they specialize in and unlike the previous classes, they will maintain their -faire and -breaker skills creating a sort rock-paper-scissors effect for infantry v. infantry battles.

Flyers will naturally just have to lose Canto completely but gain pass as their movement type specific ability. This will give Flyers the most flexible threat range but they'll have the same enemy phase weakness of cavalry without their ability to escape the threat zone. This will ensure the necessity of proper placement or movement combat arts to make the best use of them.

Endgame infantry should have the Assassin/Grapplers ability to ignore terrain penalties making them more like flyers in that their unimpeded by terrain but still limited by impassable terrain. This gives each movement type an area of expertise and uniqueness that's lacking currently (classes are becoming just statblocks of varying effectiveness, not feeling unique)

You could also bring back the rescue command (usable by Cav and Flyers only) which can only target infantry and armors allowing the flyers and cav to fit a secondary role as troop transports again (at the cost of inflicting a stat penalty on the cav/flyer).

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If we don't nerf mounted units in any way it's tough to balance unmounted units. Some flying units are weak defensively, but not all are, and they're the kinds of units that are worth investing into heavily anyway if they don't already have good combat to begin with. Once a unit reaches a certain threshold more stats don't really matter, so even if we give unmounted units better stats it doesn't fix the issue. It doesn't help that Paladins generally have good control of the weapon  triangle on top of everything else.

Thracia did it pretty well. They have enough maps where mounted units are really strong, and they are effectively neutered indoors. Giving more enemies anti mount weapons doesn't really fix the issue (too many and mounted units don't get used for combat, and without enough of them it becomes a player phase issue to solve rather than being much of a real nerf), and it would require intricate map design and specific mechanics to accomodate unmounted units while not nerfing mounted units.

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Something i want is for fire emblem to move away from awarding "good enought" stats, because it basically makes all specilist redundant as hell. The 34 of Radiant dawn is a famous example. Certain units can go as high as 40 speed but those extra 6 points are worse than putting those in fucking luck. Usually, paladins happen to get stats close enought to the "34" in stre/spd/def, wich leave units like fighters and swordmasters in the dust. Cavaliers should be more like forde, always 1 or 2 points short of doing something that a specilist can do.

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Maybe something like: at base, say your cavalier has 8 mov, like normal. So you move max 8, then next turn, your only allowed to move 5? Surely after moving so far so fast, your mount needs to rest. It could be fine tuned, sure but I think it could be interesting. And this way, mounts keep their high mov, but aren't able to traverse the map so much quicker.

Edited by lightcosmo

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2 hours ago, Flere210 said:

The 34 of Radiant dawn is a famous example. Certain units can go as high as 40 speed but those extra 6 points are worse than putting those in fucking luck.

Not really. Those units don't need Nasir to double Ashera's auras (IIRC, they have 35 speed).

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6 minutes ago, Shrimperor said:

Honestly, i am a fan of ''nerf indoors'' ala Thracia and FE9/10 myself

Path of Radiance didn't nerf mounted units indoors, from what I remember.

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