1. Mercenaries are not a common enemy. The player usually does not encounter them often over the course of the game. When I have, I see maybe 2 crossbowmen?
They are enemy you will encounter at one point or another. What will you do then? And I have faced mercenary companies with 3 or 4 ranged units.
2. I use a counter archer with anticipation, dodge, heavy points in initiative/ranged def and bow specialty. That role has frequently been killed by concentrated fire. More often, the counter archer in training gets killed before getting specced and the process starts all over again.
Single ranged brother is bit too little for this and specializing him in single role seems like a waste anyway. If you want to counter enemy ranged with your own ranged, you need to bring more. I train all my ranged units as a second line fighters who can switch to pikes or long axes. That gives me some flexibility.
3. More on perfect generation, it’s not infrequent for maps to generate with the backline marksmen simply given the high ground.
It’s equally frequent to generate maps where your back line is on the high ground. It’s not that maps are unfair to player.
It used to be that if you moved out of range, the markesmen would chase and expose themselves. I have not seen that in recent patches.
They still do once you kill one or two of his troops. AI seems to like to turtle but if you manage to score few hits, it will try something. I saw it send few melee forward to threaten me -so much better, I just pull back a little while puncturing them will arrows. In other occasions I saw AI ranged to step forward exposing themselves.
In any case, if AI turtles, that’s a good thing. I can pick his front troops at a leisure. Then just charge once he is down in numbers. But I saw that happen only when I had just single ranged in company. If you bring more, AI will eventually do something.
So in a situation where by diceroll 3-4 marksmen are shooting you from high ground and your own ranged troops don’t have the range to counter, what are you proposing to do?
First, look for weak spots of his line which are not cowered by his range. Second, look if you can attack from angle which obstructs his view/fire. I had battle were raiders spawned on a hill 4 tiles high with 3 ranged units. I got one brother wounded right at the start, before I could even move. What I did was to leave one merc just outside of his range and send rest circling to the left where I first scouted suitable terrain. I was able to approach his position from there and get up to level with him before he could use his ranged effectively. Once on the hill I also charged brother which was left in place to effectively flank and threaten his ranged once he rearranged his troops to face mine coming from his right. At the end I was able to win without loosing anybody. Of course with some luck, but loosing brothers here and there is simply part of this game, you can’t expect otherwise. You have to accept fact, that you will loose brothers. Otherwise it is impossible to play this game. That bye the way means that you shouldn’t treat (and develop) your brothers as irreplaceable. You always should have other brothers who can fill up his place in a battle line. If you don’t you have to hire them.
Also there are fights which you simply are not meant to fight. If odds are against you, retreat to fight another day. Most of my disasters have happened when I have decided to push my luck too far and fight against superior enemy thinking that I might just pull it off.
4. Bringing kite shields is fine in theory, but it also means that once your shields are engaged in melee combat (where your frontline spends most of its time) they have sacrificed a major stat to deal with the skirmish phase. So it basically boils down to pick your death, ranged or melee. In a scenario where your entire frontline has kite shields, but you don’t have a capable archer/marksmen with bullseye and a few more levels, you’re in for a slogfest with a high chance of losses one way or another.
Alternative is to get pelted by the arrows. Which is much worst. besides nobody said that you have to fight whole time with shields, if you want, you can carry secondary 2H weapon and switch once in melee. However bandits are not particularly tough enemy, with exception of their leaders so you don’t really need that much punch to deal with them. And every archer or crossbowman they have is one less melee fighter you will face.
5. Bandit marksmen lack armor, but I’ve mentioned that they have rotation. The AI is smart and crossbowmen usually take cover. When caught, they often rotate out.
You have to engage his melee fighters otherwise AI is smart to protect their archers and will send melee fighters against your flanker. When you catch his ranged without melee nearby, they can’t rotate.
On top of that, any single brother attempting to close with backline marksmen is usually focus fired and rendered incapable of safely chasing. Bandit Marksmen have high initiative, so it’s extremely difficult for an armored brother with a kite shield to actually catch up before being intercepted
That’s why he carries kite shield. Besides, he doesn’t have to necessarily catch his ranged. His main purpose is to threaten his ranged, forcing them out of their cower, exposing them to your ranged, forcing them to waste their APs moving instead of shooting. Aimed bow shot and reload/shot of the crossbow takes full 9 APs. If you force him to move just one tile, you robed him of one shot. Sure, he can still take unaimed shot or shoot and reload his xbow next move. But that’s shot with lower damage and accuracy with bow and one less shot for crossbow in the long run.
Don’t just rush strait for his ranged, move to the position where you can catch him the next move and he will be forced to react, or get caught next turn. Use opportunity as it presents.
And if enemy focus fire your brother, so much better. I rather have them shoot at heavily armored guy with the kite shield rather then one of my more vulnerable ones. If enemy have lot of ranged, send more brothers.
I’ve frequently been in engagements where the enemy raiders have a frontline with shields and chainmail. Raiders have a chance of spawning with leather armor, but they also have a chance of spawning with very good equipment. I build my essential ranged units with ranged defense and anticipation, but have still had some 1st round killed by 3-4 marksmen that were given high ground on spawn. This is a complete diceroll. It’s completely down to chance. A gamble.
But that’s what this whole game is based on :) A dice rolls. All you can do is to make sure odds are as much in your favor as possible. As I said before, you have to accept that you will have losses in this game. Developers have stressed as much.
I’ve also been in situations where i’ll move a unit into a brush for cover and an enemy archer will still target him. The last time there was no brother on any adjacent tile. He hadn’t made an active move after moving into the bush and so shouldn’t have been visible. He was still shot.
I don’t know how “hiding” mechanics works in game, I expected hidden brothers to be invisible just like his units are to me. Was there some dev blog about hide mechanics? Myself I would be interested in this. I didn’t utilize hiding to much so far as it is very situational but I was planing to explore it bit more.
Most of your counter play scenarios require time to implement (leveled brothers), or perfect generation circumstances i.e a poorly equipped bandit frontline. Bandit armies make up what, 40-60% of engagements in battle brothers? Losing a level 6 to a backline of marksmen that spawned on a hill within 5 seconds of the first turn doesn’t do much for me.. Especially when there’s a chance of that happening every few quests/encounters given how often you fight bandits. I’ve defended some of the game design decisions myself. I’ve said before, I want to believe it’s balanced, but when all of the counterplay for a given enemy requires perfect generation circumstances, unlikely given their frequency, you’re gambling and not gaming.
There is chance of loosing any of your brothers in any fight. Hit from 2H raider axe can end your lvl. 6 brother just as good as crossbow bolt. It’s not that crossbows have some insane uncommon damage or accuracy. And raiders, their ranged units including are by far not the toughest opponents out there.
The frequency with which bandit marksmen spawn, their high lethality, the lack of logistical concerns from AI camps means that just by simple eventuality they’ll kill a high level brother and turn the game into a grindfest of attrition. That wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take hours to retrain brothers to be prepared for more dangerous enemies in the endgame.
AI can’t pick their fights, you can. Not all but most. That’s major advantage to your favor. One of the more entertaining aspects of the game is to learn what certain enemies are worth of by engaging them for the first time and getting my ass wiped out because I was unprepared. Fighting bandits will not make you prepared to fight goblins. Fighting goblins will to prepare you to fight orcs. And so on. Fact that each faction is very unique not just in their look and equipment but also fighting stile and AI is one of the strongest points of this game.