Increasing the number of S-Tier civs on water maps (by Azot-Spike)

Hi there, some days ago I read a post in reddit about add some bonus to some civs to make the water maps more appealing. The post was created by Azot-Spike, I’m just coping the original post in here to discuss:

Increasing the number of S-Tier civs on water maps : aoe2 (

Hi all! If there were to be made a pure water map civ Tier list, I’m pretty sure all of us would include the trio Italians, Portuguese and Vikings on S-Tier .
Today I’m proposing a TOTALLY HYPOTHETICAL game. Not asking for buffs for these civs. I’m going to include bonuses/extra features for civs which already have bonuses towards water maps to see if we could make them S-Tier without OP-ing them too much. Whenever possible, I’d like the identity of the civ to remain untouched. So here we go!
[…] The feature of Turtle Ships is that they must be slow when moving […], so my change proposed would be increasing their range from 6 to 8 . That way, they’d become more durable and better protectors for Galleons behind them.
[…] My proposal would be like this: Yasama, which literally means “Arrow slit”, affecting Galley line so that they fire one additional arrow . This arrow would be similar to those extra arrows fired by Chu Ko Nus or Kipchaks, with 3 pierce armor and 0 melee armor.
[…] Forced Levy’s 2nd effect would be lowering Warship gold cost by 40% . You’d need to create 42 Galleons, 28 Fire Ships, 25 Demos or 9 Cannon Galleons to make up for it, but it’d certainly increase the potential of Malay when gold is running out.
[…] The straight boost to Spanish navy would be extending the no-gold blacksmith techs to Dock technologies .
[…] I feel they need a tiny improvement to be at the level of S-Tier civs. Maybe free Careening and/or Dry Dock ?
[…] I’d propose a double buff for Demo Ships: First, the Heavy Demo upgrade being available in Castle Age , when Fire Ships are more common. And then, Artillery doubling the Blast Radius of Demos .
[…] I’d propose […], replacing Madrasah with a new UT: “Ship Breaking (350W 250G): 50% of the Gold cost of destroyed ships is refunded” .
[…] Giving them Shipwright would work as Chivalry for Franks or a boost like Goth/Briton/Hun/Celt production building bonuses.
[…] I feel a good change to take an advantage of the extra speed is giving Warships a staggered +1/+2 vs Standard Buildings in Castle Age/Imperial Age . That way, they’d become more efficient when sniping enemy Docks and maybe production buildings. This change would be marginal for Demo ships and Cannon Galleons, but would impact positively Fire Ships and Galleons.
[…] I’d propose giving the Sicilian Galley-Line +1 hidden ship armor .

What do you think about these ideas? Of course, applying these changes would mean important changes, not only on water map meta, but on hybrid maps as well, so I’m reluctant to do a firm proposal for such buffs.

I’d really like to read your comments and propose your own ideas. I hope you liked the thread and have a nice day!


I’m not going to go over most of it, because I can’t be bothered formulating an opinion, but why change Forced Levy? Seems really weird, because Thalassocracy is the one players are more likely to pick up on water maps, and should even be pushed towards.

For Berbers, I would suggest free Careening and Drydock and gain access to Shipwright. Free Drydock would synergize with their already faster Navy.

For Byzantines, there needs to be a change with Fire Ships and Accuracy to supplement their UT:

As far as I know, the yasama is used on the yagura, basically the model of Japanese castles, instead on the ships. Yasama could also add the arrows fired from castles, but not suitable to affect the ships. Besides the historical facts, the Galley line with additional arrows may likely be broken.

Maybe just make their fishing boats work +10%/20%, before/after hitting the castle age.

Why not just give the 2nd naval effect to Thalassocracy?

Free upgrade to Fire Ship when hitting the castle age may be better.
The Fast Fire Ship should be still need cost and research.

They are not classic navy civs even if they have some bonus about navy.
Bonus about Demo Ships could give to the Chinese, the current Chinese Demo Ship bunus is not enough to be useful.
I think I don’t need to explain how Chinese navy good in the late Middle Ages.

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What are the strategic goals on water maps such as Islands assuming we ignore all land openings?
(1) Early game: Gaining (or at least not losing) water control in feudal.
(2) Late game: Not running out of wood (before the opponent does).

You want to have a civ that supports both goals. Among the above-mentioned civs, only two have potential to become realistic competitors:

  • Saracens: Late game is okay due to the strong Galley line. But they are weak early on. They need something that allows them to go into their decent Galleys early. Perhaps a strong buff to their early demo ships (let’s say a drastic cost-reduction of 50% or so) could do the trick. In exchange, the transport ship bonus could be dropped. That way, they could be played similar to Vikings.
  • Byzantines: Early game is great due to the strong fires, but long-term there is absolutely nothing special about them except for the short time-window of getting earlier imp. One idea to buff them a little bit, yet taking into account their “defensive” nature is to not only give them access to heated shot, but rather give it for free. Heavy fortifications with Fire galleys baiting or pushing the enemy into castle fire could somehow allow favorable trades, although it would be a bit awkward to play. The Greek fire tech could also be buffed a bit.

Besides these two, I don’t see any other civ that can be made competitive in the pure water play without changes that also affect land combat.

It’s not just about the civs that have the potential currently to be viable. It’s also about the historical powerhouses, or at least strong water civs, who should also have a good chance, even if they aren’t the best. Examples include Malay, Spanish, and Khmer, as well as the two you mentioned, and numerous others.

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I understand that. My comment was merely based on (i) how water matches typically play out in AoE2, and (ii) the premise that we don’t want to change anything that also affects land combat to a notable degree. Those two constraints limit the potential of what can be done to make more civs top-tier considerably.

By the way, civs like Malay or Japanese are strong water civs and certainly better than a random civ pick. Even Berbers can be good if you’re able to utilize the speed for micro. Every civ that has Galleon, Bracer, and Cannon Galleon can compete on water maps in principle. But then they may not be as strong as the top-3, especially when the game drags on until post-imp.

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Meanwhile FE on DE’s release: OK Khmer are weak so let’s give them hussar and faith but remove shipwright cuz reasons.

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I tend to disdain the concept of an S tier, in part due to it being such an exclusive club, but if you want to bend the arc so that the S tier civs become A tier, I am with you.

The Saracens create a fascinating problem, because their Galleys are good. You just have to survive the early fights like anyone else, except with better market support. I would leave them alone. They may be a bit harder to play than some civilizations marked as “S tier,” but they can be quite frightful at sea.

I think that there is a reasonable view that Roman fire ships need better accuracy with their unique tech. You have to be careful though, because their fireships are relevant in late game, unlike those of many other civs. Those fireships are downright deadly in early fighting.

I am indifferent to the Khmer gaining shipwright. I am surprised that their Unique tech does not affect Galleons. I would guess that it is because they could be too potent a naval civilization with their already strong economy.

The Malay are all about momentum. When you lose that momentum, you still have a fine navy with shipwright, but while you have that momentum, your opponent has to watch out for upgraded ships before they are ready to deal with them. The Malay are as strong as the player’s ability to channel tempo.


About Saracens the main issue they have in water maps is that they need to build the mill to build the market
What if they can build a market after the dock?

Agree in every thing else you wrote

Also maybe replace ring archer armor with bracer

Britons: Yeomen affect Galleys

No Khmer economy bonus is relevant on water maps. Even bonused farms are worse than fishing ships, and there is no building you need to have to unlock docks so their other bonus doesn’t come into play either. So the decision to remove shipwright truely was random (at least I couldn’t find any valid reason)

That is an interesting proposition, but the key challenge is that the Mill to Market requirement represents a historic truth.

Interesting set of changes except for free Careening for Byza (not needed as they have great fireships and are already a super good civ on water and hybrid), Persians (2x dock hp and faster production already)
Other than that these changes might make the game quite interesting to the small group of players who enjoy water maps but not have a big impact overall in the game. Like the importance of water play in ranked maps and tournaments.
In general to have more water civs and to make water play popular, they need to add more water buildings and units. Like lets say another water building is available for all civs, produces some new types of military ships, and another eco water building with builder ships which can build sea towers, something like fishing ship which can mine gold upto 2 tiles from the shoreline or on mangroves, amphibious units.
Right now its just galleys when there’s a lot of water and fire ships for small ponds and limited water mobility maps, demos to counter fireships.

Wouldn’t it be the easies way there to just make the wood discount apply to all units, not just military?
This would make koreans immediately a top-tier water civ imo.

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Cheaper fishing would make Koreans OP

Italians jumpd from at best B tier on water to S-tier when thdy got theirs

italians have cheaper advance and techs.
I mean the thread is about making more civs s-tier on water or did I miss something?
Idk if this makes koreans better than italians. I think it would make them about even and as I understood it this is the goal of the thread.

Korean are already top 5 or 6, Italians meanwhile sucked before they got their discount on fishing ships. I can warrant you that Koreans with 20% cheaper fishing would be the bwst civ in water easily.

??? I have no Idea what you are talking about.