Hey. Enjoying this game a good bit so far, but there are some pretty significant balance factors that annoy me. The top 5 on my list are: how it's practically impossible to get a decently leveled hero if you ever use more than 1 in a stack, the extreme disparity between damage spell mana cost and usefulness, the Arcane Monolith spell, the way Defense and spells like Heart of Fire work, and lastly, spears. Fortunately, most of those things can be modded, but I feel that the spear thing in particular merits some thought.
Almost every post I have seen on the matter says unilaterally that spears are the best weapons. I agree, for several reasons, and I would go so far as to say the rest aren't even in the same ballpark. Most obvious is the armor penetration, which is quite strong alone. Then, there is the Impale ability, which seems silly, misplaced, and poorly conceived to me - I can make sense out of Cleave, but literally spearing straight through an entire army into a second one behind is a bit hard to believe. Add to those the fact that spear base damage is relatively high, and the fact that spears are the 2nd-highest initiative weapon, with only swords being higher, and there is a pretty obvious disparity.
Personally, I never use anything but spears anymore, unless I have to; I either rush Enchanting for the ice spear if I have decent crystal or blacksmithing for the boar spear if I don't, and, with a few staff-mage units, that's my army for the most of the game. I've gotten rather bored of this, frankly, since it's pretty much the same for every faction I play - almost all the faction weapons are meaningless to me. Heck, I don't even build archers with Tarth. The only weakness spears seem to have is that they are 2-handed, but even so, the Defensive trait (described by someone else on this forum as the best in the game) lets you onehand them, so.. so much for that.
So, it would seem clear that something should be done. What exactly is another question; I have a few suggestions, of course (why make a thread like this otherwise!) but I just hope that something is done one way or the other, to make weapon choices feel a bit more impactful on how the game plays. Axes and hammers both have their interesting points, but the lack of armor pen and the initiative penalties make them rather undesirable, and, frankly, swords are just boring.
Anyways, my suggestions for possible changes - the first 3 sort of go together, so I'm grouping them apart:
-Remove the current Impale from spears, rename it Piercing Blow or something, and make it a champion ability in the Assassin tree, leading off max-level Precise Strike. Or wherever else it may fit - Defender, Warrior, artifact ability, whatever... no point wasting a coded ability!
-Severely nerf the base armor pen on spears, starting from 20% for low tech and maxing at somewhere around 30-35% for high level spears. Add an initiative penalty.
-Make a new Impale ability, that doubles the armor pen on the spear for an attack and possibly adds a bit of damage based on tech level. 2-5 turn cooldown. This would make a heck of a lot more sense than spearing straight through (non-fatally, I might add) two crowds of people.
In my mind, those 3 changes would bring spears more inline with other weapons, fit the archetype better, and feel better overall. Possibly add some sort of Set Spears ability to increase damage/defense vs mounted units.. and hooray!
Other possibilites if the above isn't appealing (most of these would be easy to mod in manually, but hey):
-switch Axes and Spears in the initiative-tree: spears/pikes are big weapons, and should be slower, really. A straight penalty to spears would work as well as a switch.
-Lower base damage to compensate for armor pen - currently, spear damage is barely below other weapons, and ends up much higher thanks to the armor pen... plus the other benefits.
-As has been suggested before, add a bonus vs cavalry to counter mount spam. This is an interesting idea, but spears are already the best weapons in the game, so making them a must for fighting horsemen would be counterproductive imo
-Add new traits (or mod some of the current useless ones) to add damage bonuses when using certain classes of weapons, to encourage using other types. Or, change certain races to get small bonuses with certain weapon archtypes - ie. Men could get a small bonus from swords, Gilden-folk from hammers, and so on. This is something I feel should be done regardless of how devs view the current weapon balance, but again, hopefully it can be modded.
-consider adding more initiate and a bit of armor pen to daggers
Well, that's all I got.. Feel free to rage at me, give other suggestions, or whatever!