Also posted on Steam Forums - https://steamcommunity.com/app/589290/discussions/4/1743342647559463147/
I believe that the way infantry health works in game needs changing in order to improve the current musket play and to allow better development of new weapons, artillery rounds, rockets and other such features in the future.
Currently it is an all or nothing system - a wounded soldier is as effective with 1% hp as he is with 100% hp and this creates several problems:
• Above 50m, musket hits are only effective when scoring headshots.
• Surgeons are pointless.
• Swords are vastly inferior to bayonets.
• Small health buffs, such as that given to flag bearers, make them over powered as they are “effectively” twice as tough as normal infantry (one of the reasons they are so Overpowered in the current melee system).
Without changing this system, future developments, such as new weapon types, and particularly features which may do AoE damage such as grenades, or canister shot, would fall foul of the same problems, either instantly killing anyone in range, or causing a wound that has no tangible effect.
I believe a better system would be to use a bleeding mechanic and increasingly debilitating effects as health reduces, combined with a damage system that simply reduces over range as described below.
• Weapon damage reduces with distance – eg a musket would do flat 100% damage from 0-25m, then would reduce to a minimum of 1% at 300m or more.
• Headshots cause damage to be doubled (edit: this multiplier would need to be balanced to keep headshots lethal, but give a chance of survival at extreme/improbable ranges) – not instantly kill at any range.
• Melee damage scales with class and weapon used.
• When wounded, a soldier will bleed for the same amount of hp as caused by the initial hit over the next minute. (so if the initial shot takes 20% hp, they will take a further 20% damage over the next minute for a total of 40%). (edit: bleed system is suggested to give surgeons a reason to be with line infantry and is not essential to the proposed system, it does add a lot of immersion to the systems though)
• Reduced health causes detrimental effects over 4 ranges. 100%-75%, 74%-50%, 49%-25%, 24%-0%
• 100%-75% - No effect
• 74%-50% - 20% penalty to reload, accuracy, melee damage and melee swing speed,
• 49%-25% - Cannot run, 50% penalty to reload, accuracy, melee damage and melee swing speed.
• 24%-0% - Cannot run or hold a weapon – walking wounded, find a surgeon. If health hits 0% you are dead of course.
• Treatment from a surgeon stops the bleeding. He may continue to treat the soldier to increase hp up to a maximum of 50%
. Ie, above 50% health, a surgeon only stops the bleeding and will not magically heal someone to full health!(edit: rather than hard speed reduction a system of knockdown or stun may be a better option to prevent a trail of casualties in large regimental battles. Either option would work well with other suggestions for a stamina bar to allow troops to run/charge for short distances while forcing march for the most part.... see below)
Using this system, close range shots and melee attacks would still kill instantly or be fatal within seconds, mid-range shots would be fatal if not treated quickly, and minor injuries would be potentially debilitating if not treated, as well as making soldiers very vulnerable to further damage. Headshots would continue to be deadly at up to medium ranges but may be survivable at very long ranges, or if a fast-acting surgeon is nearby.
This system adds scope for giving different weapon types differing damage, carbines and dragoon style muskets might do slightly less damage than a full length musket or have different damage fall off range. A sword hit wouldn’t instantly kill, but after the first hit, the opponent would be severely weakened and may die from their injuries even if they win the fight.
This would also add scope for future developments such as shrapnel blasts, blunderbusses and canister rounds which could be effective at causing debilitating damage without being instantly fatal (or being completely ineffective).
Example 1: A soldier is hit at 70m and sustains 75% damage. He shoulders his musket and is unable to run, falling out of formation with his unit. His remaining hp will reduce to 0 in 20 seconds if not treated by a surgeon. Lucky for him a surgeon reaches him and stops the bleeding, then continues to heal him back to 50% health. The soldier re-joins his unit but will reload slower and be less accurate than his comrades.
Example 2: a soldier is hit by a stray musket ball from 200m away. The shot grazes him for 13% hp and he bleeds a further 13% hp over the next minute as there are no surgeons nearby. He continues to fight but with slightly reduced accuracy and reload speed. If the shot had hit his head, he would have suffered 26% hp from the initial shot, and bleeding would have caused a further 26% loss, leaving him seriously wounded with large firing and melee penalties and unable to run. (In the current system he would be either unaffected or outright dead)