Hi! I would like to start off by saying how much I loooove this mod! This mod makes AOE III so much more fun, and I'm bugging all of my friends to pick it up!
But how the Italians are balanced brings me joy and frustration at the same time. As a history buff, I find it hilarious how the Italians are basically useless, as this is historically accurate (in my opinion, no insult to any modern Italians is intended). But as a university student studying game design, and as a lifelong strategy game player, this frustrates me a tad. I like playing as the Italians in other games, and I love the country and want to learn the language irl, but playing as the Italians in WOL, especially not on a team or in multiplayer, is basically impossible.
I know it makes historical sense for the Italians to have a "Weak Army" as the website states, but in a game about warfare, this seems like a bit much. It is like designing a car for Rocket League, but it's "Not Good at Driving". It defeats the whole purpose. Mafioso are only useful in age V, and the vast majority of my games end in age III or IV.
In my opinion, there is one change that could be made to make the Italians more viable, but still keep a "Weak Army" feel to them. Currently, the Italians Unique units both have a melee attack and a health debuff from their counterparts in other nations. I think it would be sensible to remove the health debuff, or at least replace it with a lower melee defense. They can still be a "Weak Army" by having them be trash at melee combat. This encourages players fighting against Italians to bring melee troops, or order their ranged units to charge, and it forces the Italian player to think more about positioning and army composition.
This alteration would keep the Italians at a slight army disadvantage to other nations, but it would make them more viable if a skilled commander is at the helm.
Thank you for all your work on this mod! I hope the Swedes come out soon (they are my friend's favorite faction, and he's guaranteed to get this mod when they do)