Demo Ships need to be buffed

Greetings fellow Empire-builders and conquerors. Today, I want to open a discussion on Demolition ships and how they need to be buffed to nerf Fast Fire Ships.

For context, I am a water-map lover. I enjoy fighting a good naval battle, even in a medieval videogame like Age of Empires 2, where water battles are not as exciting as land-battles are.

For me, I love the rock-paper-scissors element on water: Galleys defeat Demos, Demos defeat Fire Ships, and Fire Ships defeat Galleys.

…but the issue that I have here is that players seem to always go for massed Fire Ship navies.

I have played opponents on water maps who will ONLY train Fast Fire ships, and yet even though I made demos, that player will still beat me on water, even if I created my own Fast Fire ships and Galleons (in one particular example, I played a Diplo match with a mixed navy of Fast Fire Ships and Galleons mixed in with some Demolition ships as Italians, fighting an enemy opponent who was Teutons and kept making only Fast Fire Ships and Cannon Galleons. That player consistently beat my navy regardless)

It is also annoying, that Demo Rafts feel a bit underpowered–at least to me-- in Feudal Age water warfare. Nearly every player I see in HD and DE now always trains Fire Galleys. Hardly anybody bothers with Galleys anymore (unless you are Vikings, as they cannot train ANY Fire Ships)

To make matters worse, the Demo is a unit that you lose after it attacks which means you have to train more demos or other naval units to follow through with thier attack. Whether it be Demo Raft, Demo Ship or Heavy Demo…you are trading wood and gold cost to destroy enemy ships at the same time, losing your own ship.

So I have a proposal to making Demos better at fighting off massed Fire Ship navies:

  • Make Demos lose their gold cost but have increased wood cost, like the Persians Castle Age tech for Persian archers. (make this an Imperial Age tech that has to be researched at the dock) This is so that for late-game battles, Demos can be better at defeating Fire Ships. Also, you are not wasting away valuable gold.


  • Lower the gold-cost of Demo ships by a small amount.

My point here is that the main, number one unit that is meant to effectively counter Fast Fire Ships, be buffed. I want to see massed-Fire Ship navies not be so prevalent in AoE2 naval gameplay, and achieve some more balance on water.

Now if you could, do comment below what you think about the current water-meta. Do you agree with my proposed changes to Demos? Do you have a different proposal in mind for Demos or other naval ships?

don’t fires produce slower than galleys? and aren’t fires kited by galleys to death? mix in just a couple sneak demos and you overwhelmed your opponent.


Demolition raft work just fine in feudal age, and they are seen quite a lot, since as you said people favour fire galley. Demo usage does fall off later in the game, not because they don’t do what they are supposed to do, but because galley keep getting better and better, and those counter demo ships.

But in situations where for some reason your enemy has a lot of fast fires, heavy demos will do their job just fine.
There are two factors I can think of that explain why you lost in your example:
first Italian don’t have heavy demos, so you were countering an imperial age ship with a castle age one. Suboptimal, as you can imagine.

Secondly you were trying to mix all kind of ships at once, when you could have either tried galleon+demo (to abuse the fact Teuton ships are slow) or fast fire + demos (you have shipwright, they don’t, so you would get cost efficient fights). Mixing everything result in a clunky mass that tries to chew more than it can bite.

But in the end, had you decided to only spam galleons, there is a good chance you would have won and made a topic about galleons instead, because they are the most problematci part of water since often they eclipse other ships from castle age on.


i always have and i feel like i always will hate water fighting in aoe, and lots of people have pointed out how overly simplistic it is and overly favours specific ships at specific times, on top of the terrible pathing, there’s a ton of things that should change, but because water fighting has rarely been popular in any strategy game, i doubt devs will put too much effort into it

about one of the weirdest things ive ever seen is how cost inefficient the demo line is vs the line it is supposed to counter, vs how easily the demo line is countered…

it takes the absolute bare micro to prevent cost effective trades in feudal from demo rafts with their useless damaga, uselss aoe, and stupid price, even if they train faster

but then everything gets eclipsed with the ridiculous power levels of the galley line in castle age with remotely open water

Thanks for the tip, CactusSteak2171. Looking back at that game, I could have probably been smarter in my fleet-build. And yes, indeed, the lack of Heavy Demos for Italians was annoying!

One of the things that I just find frustrating about Demos though, is that they are a kamikaze unit that can be sometimes difficult to get the most bang for your buck. If we compare another kamikaze unit, like the Petard, the Petard is an excellent anti-building unit and do not require many of them to take down a Castle or a Town Center. And you need only 2 to destroy Stone Walls (though Fortify Walls require a few more Petards, I think 4-5 if I remember correctly). But for mass enemy Fire Ship fleets, you need about 1/2 or 2/3rds of Demo number to the number of the enemy fleet, as least based I have experienced water fights using Demos. (if the enemy has say 20 enemy ships, you need at least 10 Demos to effectively destroy them. Splash damage will contribute to some Demos destroying 2 or more ships per attack, but it is not perfect)
Petards only have to attack ONE target (assuming you have a group of Petards) but Demos have to attack multiple targets, and those targets can maneuver in formations and with micro to weaken the Demos’ damage output.

Have you seen the Sandy Peterson interview on YouTube by Bored with Nelly? Peterson, one of the original devs of AoE2, actually explains why water battles are the way they are in AoE2.

This is a small clip segment from the larger 1 hour or so interview:
Water Simplicity Explained By Former Developer - YouTube

Demo ships being denied by micro is a good point, but I don’t know how it could be remedied without making them even more punishing when people forget to micro. Also now that there is a bunch of maps with hybrid terrain the strenght of demo ships against land units has to be accounted for.