*In this post exact numbers for item-values are not to be considered suggestions, they are meant to be exemplary to give you a better understanding and general feeling of/for how the system might work.
0. General fluff and opinion about the game
a) How I like this game
b ) Why I feel this change is necessary
1. Introducing the idea
a) The new values and what they mean
b ) How this system could work and look like (loose somewhat specific suggestions)
2. Closing words and requesting feedback
I think this game has got enormous potential. I was having a quite a lot of fun with this game already. Unfortunately there is a lot of stuff that really needs to be polished. Most people would agree on that, I think.
One of the major concerns that I have, understandably, heard about in the forums a lot is the tactical combat being a little, well, boring. Now in order to change the tactical combat, we will have to look into the unit-design, which is an incredibly amazing feature. Unfortunately, as it is of now, it is also a feature, that provides us with little actual meaningful choices. Partially because of the infamous overpowered and already often addressed squad-mechanics, which I will not dive into in this thread, since there are already others who have made promising suggestions. Partially also because the attributes provided by the equipment are a little dull and imbalanced.
Take for example the choice between war hammers or broadswords. Now the warhammer comes with a whopping 24 attack and -0,5 combat speed, the broadsword on the other hand provides 10 attack with +1,0 combat-speed, while costing only one metal less. Since the number of attacks per turn is rather unimportant, choosing the war hammer really is a no-brainer, lest you need the combat-speed for other reasons (the only idea that springs to my mind is the as of now underpowered battle-mage). Now you could try and simply switch some numbers here and be done with it (for example dropping the war hammer's attack to around 15 would make the broadsword at least in some situations viable) however, I still feel that wouldn't exactly express the differences between these weapons nor does it add the right amount of flavor to the game. What I feel would be a much more intelligent solution is
introduce a new attribute called: damage. Now if the attack value would determine if you hit the target, damage would then determine how hard the target is hit. Being able to hit with a heavy weapon is conceivably harder than to do so with a swift and elegant sword. However, a sword, as medieval weapon-experts will assure you, has next to none armor-piercing abilities. *So let's say we give the broadsword an attack value of 15 and a damage of 8 while a war hammer provides you with 9 attack and a damage of 20. So the war hammer would be the heavy hitter, smiting opponents with only a few hits and being able to easily damage even armor-clad opponents or bringing down monsters with very many hitpoints such as trolls or dragons.
We would then have to introduce a new attribute called: armor. Now defence would determine if your opponent can hit you at all or if you are able to somehow deflect or evade the blow completely while armor would determine how much damage your opponent will actually deal to you. As it is of now a heavy plate cuirass is almost entirely superior to a leather armor. Granting 4 more defense while only penalizing you with a lousy -0,1 combat speed modifier. So if you can afford the heavy plate cuirass, you will almost always do so. *If the leather armor however would provide you with a -1 to defence while granting you a +1 armor, while the heavy plate cuirass would come with a -5 defence and a +7 armor, the choice would actually be meaningful. To be precise: If your enemy uses war hammers, you will likely be able to dodge the attack entirely using a leather armor. However a broadsword will be able to hit you often and damage you most of the time.
Let's say you went for the heavy plate cuirass instead. A broadsword then, while hitting you almost 100% of the time, would mostly deal no damage at all or only cause minor bruises, while a war hammer would still hit you often enough and hit you hard enough that it would matter.
How exactly this system could work can't be determined by my theoretical approach and would need some intensive testing. Here are some loose suggestions as to how it could look like:
Dexterity influences both: attack and defence (could lead to imbalances that are very unflavor - a very dextrous champion wielding a battle hammer, hitting often and still hitting hard enough, would need extensive testing and tweaking)
Strength influences damage
Constitution could then provide you with (very small) armor boni
A shield could help with defence rather than armor (being able to parry blows entirely). A negative attack modifier would also be feasible.
A heavy armor could decrease both, defence and attack or only defence
There could be magic items increasing armor or defence without penalizing you in any way (*ring of protection+1 armor/cloak of swiftness+1 def)
Armors could either be scaled by giving more or less defence boni (*leather armor +6 defence +1 armor / heavy plate cuirass +1 defence +8 armor) or they could be scaled by giving negative defence modifiers but positive armor (*leather armor -1 defence +1 armor / heavy plate cuirass -5 defence +7 armor) while I prefer the latter one, I understand it would mean redesigning how defence is generated as of now (meaning the dexterity attribute would probably provide the defence value directly rather than influencing it). It would also mean that an unarmored opponent have the highest defence value (which makes sense).
Modifiers for combat speed could either be thrown out completely or rebalanced due to new disadvantages that come with heavy armor/weaponry. I would prefer the latter.
There could be new heavy, light and medium armors being unlocked during all stages of the tech-tree, since now it would make sense to improve upon both, the leather armor as well as the plate mail well until the lategame (of course you should not be able to research any kind of plate mail at the very beginning since it obviously takes a lot more expertise and technical knowledge to forge these than it takes to tan a leather armor; an early heavy armor in the form of scavenged metal scrapes, loosely bound together, would still be conceivable).
Thanks for reading this post, whether entirely or just pieces of it. Please do leave your earnest opinion upon this matter and be as truthful as you can. I'd also embrace any suggestions as to fleshing out the whole or just some loosely gathered ideas. Also note that English is not my mother-tongue so if you find any mistakes, language-wise, feel free to point them out so that I can smoothen out the text and improve upon its readibility.