Naval rework

Snaring sounds like an interesting idea for sure, that would allow for some tactics. I guess it would also be very useful for raiding fishing boats. To be consistent with how melee/ranged infantry snaring works maybe it would be best to have the slower close-range ships be the powerful snares, while the long range ships are the damage dealers?

Not sure about imperfect accuracy. I personally like things like that, but RNG features in RTS games tend to be removed over time as people complain about balance at higher levels (fair enough).

Overall though I still just get the feeling if a feature like this was added it wouldn’t change the way naval combat works: i.e. build more and bigger ships faster and sail them into the enemy ships to win. It adds a slight incentive to use formations where you protect your long range ships with close range ships, but that’s all.

I feel like the only way to make naval combat feel right is to make maneuvering and tactics matter. I think tweaking the exisiting systems is just not going to be that useful. As long as ships have a constant speed, stop to fire, turn on a dime, and have no positioning advantages, naval combat is always going to feel like moving around fixed guns and watching them pummel each other.


Ship tactics are a cool idea and maybe the best possible tweak that could be done without an overhaul to improve how ships work. Even literally adding your “anchored” stance would go a long way. Naval combat is almost always a sideshow, so it would be perfect to be able to anchor your ships somewhere useful and leave them there to blockage enemy movement while you focus on other things. Plus I would love to be able to anchor ships near a dock so they can heal up instead of sailing off to chase every random fishing boat that sails past

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I didn’t say it because I haven’t been able to mod it in yet, but I was hoping the exploration ships wouldn’t need to rotate. They could fire from long range, snare the enemy ships, and allow your bigger ships to close in. The bigger ships could also snare, but they would be so inaccurate and slow at long range that they would be ineffective until they closed the distance. Then once they got close they could wipe the floor with weaker ships and trade effectively with each other.

I also don’t know if it’s possible yet, but there could be a boarding mechanic adding a third dimension to the naval combat. Some ships (like galleons) could be OK in a broadside fight but excel at boarding, while others (like frigates) excel at broadsiding but are just OK at boarding. Then you could have exploration ships (like caravels) that are needed to snare enemy ships at range and support other ships from further back. Privateers/pirate ships could then throw a big wrench into everything by being effective at boarding caravels but weak in direct confrontations. That way they are effectively a flanking force against the sniping caravels. Anyway I did get the long range/short range thing figured out so give me a weak or so and it’ll probably be playable (via mod).

How about a certain % damage taken? If that’s possible it would be an awesome mechanic to include.

That’s exactly what I was thinking, especially with the chain shot. In this game it could be a low damage/heavy snare attack, and that would combine with accuracy to make certain ships effective at snaring in certain circumstances. As for boarding, I thought that would be better done as a special ability that leaves you vulnerable while performing it.

The last part to bring up is canoes. I was thinking canoes could have the “block” ability that the USA ironclads could get, though in this case it would be a “miss”. War canoes would be stronger in direct confrontations but weaker at longer range due to the “miss” factor. Then, maybe if you could get enough, a group of war canoes could board larger ships.

The big benefit of this type of counter system is, like you said, none of it is a direct rock/paper/scissors calculation. It’s sort of like musketeers vs artillery. The musketeers lose at range, but they’ll win if they can get into a melee engagement.

I think RNG is only an issue when it’s decisive. I don’t think a long range shot having a low accuracy is going to get people upset. Also since ships can all take a lot of shots before getting destroyed, the RNG should average out if identical ships engage each other. Testing today, two galleons at 20% accuracy both got down to <90% health before one died.


I’m happy with ships as they are.

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Ok but very few people play water maps so why do you think that is? The lack of strategy/diversity is an often-cited reason.

@M00Z1LLA you’ve been typing for 30 minutes, spit it out man

I don’t really like this range/accuracy thing. It sound like the light ships could just kite all day and run back to where they had shore support if ever challenged. Plus it just doesn’t make sense. A Frigate is going to have bigger, longer ranged guns than any little Caravel. Caravels would have the advantage of being faster and more maneuverable, but extra range doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I think this is the way to go. You could have some rough categories that specialize in different types of fighting. Maybe even some multipliers for certain ship types.

Ship Types

Ship of the Line / Man o’ War (Frigate, Battleship, etc) - Very powerful broadsides and base attack with directional firing. Movement and turning is slow, and melee/boarding has a low capture chance but good resistance to being captured. So you technically could use them in melee, but it would be a waste.

Transport (Galleon, Steamer, etc) - High transport capacity and resistance to building/land attacks. Moderate broadsides and base attack with directional firing. High melee attack with a good chance of capture.

Bombardment Ship (Monitor) - Very high range and high damage. Moderate speed and slow rate of fire. Very bad at melee combat and vulnerable to capture.

Light Ship (Caravel, Junk, War Canoe, etc) - High speed and maneuverability. Moderate broadsides and base attack with no directionality. Good melee attack with a good chance of capture. They won’t hold up well in direct combat, but they can use their maneuverability to harass and run away or close the distance for a risky melee attack.

Attack Boat (Canoe, Catamaran, etc) - Not as fast as Light Ships, but able to catch up with most others. Individually low in attack, but buildable in large quantities. Large numbers lets them swarm larger ships in melee and have many capture chances, while not putting much at risk if they are captured in turn. Good maneuverability and can enter shallow waters.

Fire Ship - Suicidal explosive attack best countered by fast, maneuverable ships.

Mercenary Ship - Very good at boarding/capturing with good base attack.

Flagship - Formed by garrisoning your hero inside a ship. Flagships slowly heal, and are only incapacitated instead of killed outright. Displays a large flag to differentiate it and takes bonus damage from some ship types to balance the immortality.

Ships Stances

Round/Standard Shot - Standard projectiles in the ranged stance.

Chain Shot - Lower range and damage but will snare have a bigger AoE. Useful to slow and catch Light Ships or spread out damage to take out groups of Attack Boats.

Anchored - The ship becomes immobile but charged attacks recharge faster (More crew to man the guns). Being anchored could also make ships more vulnerable to damage from land units to discourage players from just shifting into this stance wherever to maximize damage output.

Melee - Makes the attacking ship more vulnerable but has a chance to capture enemy ships. This could be semi-random, but have the chance increase against ships with lower health. So you’d generally have to get your prize ships back to the docks for repairs for maximum impact.

Patrol/Transport - Automatically patrol between or ferry units between two set points. Could make moving units over water a lot less tedious.

Ship Abilities

Broadside/Roundel - Similar to now, but more directional and bigger AoE so it can clear out Attack Boats. It should also be automatic like the ability of Sloops (but togglable to manual).

Ramming - Massive melee attack currently available to Galleass. Could also increase speed for a short duration and stun after impact.

Stealth - Conceals the ship for a short duration. Available to Light Ships and maybe Transports to give them the ability to sneak up for a melee attack or landing. Currently available to some American ships (Hide ability).

Full Steam - Moves faster for a duration like a Steamer.

Long Range Bombardment - Strike like a Monitor or Ironclad. Could also stun ships for a short duration to give it a bit more utility against things that aren’t buildings.

I had lots to say :rofl:

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They wouldn’t do too much damage, but yes you would need your own caravels to snare them. That means you would need a balanced force to win a naval engagement, which is kind of the point.

It’s admittedly shoe-horned, but if a caravel can fire forward while a frigate has to turn and fire then that might be enough.

I would add on here a minimum range required to attack, making them useless in close fights.Otherwise that’s pretty much what I’m thinking for naval roles.

What if they repaired slowly, or gained additional range so they could bombard inland?


It just seems really unintuitive and forced. There’s no reason for snaring to be anything unique to Caravels. In fact, making the fastest ships the only ones that snare kinda defeats the point of it. They’re already the fastest and this just gives them an even greater advantage and potential to be annoying.

Where you want snaring is for your slower ships so they have a chance to catch the fast ones. Making it a stance available to most ships let’s you choose when it’s most useful.

I don’t see why that would be needed. A slow rate of fire with focused projectiles that deal excessive overkill already makes them quite vulnerable when you close the distance. Their main role is anti-building anyways. Being vulnerable to melee also dooms them in close fights and would let civs with no Bombardment vessels have a chance to steal them to get access.

Repairing should be a separate stance if at all. Maybe a “bailing” stance where the ship can’t attack. Inland bombardment is the specialization of Monitors, not of everything in a certain stance.


Hace falta indicar cuántas unidades se pueden guarecer en cada barco. Age of Empires 3 no lo indica ni en los edificios defensivos, pero todo tiene un espacio. Las carabelas, galeones, fragatas y monitores permiten hasta 60 unidades. Los pesqueros creo que 15 y los buques de guerra 95. ( Las canoas creo que solo 30)

I agree. I really simple and easy to implement thing which can only help.

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También tenes los botes de las campañas…

I’m not seeing what’s overly forced about it, especially since this is similar to how Anno 1800 works. It’s not like Caravels would be the only ones that could snare, they would just be better at it long-range.

Doesn’t that put us back to the same problem we have now, where ships just get bigger and better and it’s just a battle of who has the most?

From what I can tell, the long ranged ship in that game is a battle cruiser which would be most equivalent to an ironclad. It sounds pretty reasonable for an Ironclad or Monitor to win at far ranges but lose in closer encounters. Trying to shoehorn that role into Caravels seems a bit silly to me.

If you really want to include something like this, it should probably revolve around broadside charged attacks. Rather than being a big concentrated blast it could be spread over a limited area and be more dispersed at further ranges. So it would be most effective against groups of ships or ones big enough to be hit by the entire salvo. With a bit of micro one could use the maneuverability of Caravels to dodge or at least minimize the full impact of a broadside and only have to contend with the base attack.

Fair enough, you only mentioned it in relation to Caravels so I thought maybe you wanted it exclusive to them.

That’s certainly a risk, but different stances and attack modes would go a long way to making it engaging despite that. Switching to melee is almost like turning it into a different unit so you get some variety that way. Different levels of maneuverability could also give opportunities for micro to avoid broadside salvos and introduce skill into the mix.

A bit of depth in tactics like that would be a huge improvement over how it is now where ship size and quantity is all that matters.

That’s not what I was referencing. In the beginning there are small sailing gunboats that are ok in fights but since they can fire forward they’re still useful in pursuits even after you get the larger sailing ships. In that game you slow ships down by causing damage, so if you can damage a ship then your slower bigger ships can catch up and have enough time to turn.

That makes sense for Gunboats, but they’re not really equivalent to Caravels. I’d just make it so the standard attack of light ships and bombardment ships can fire forward and has target lock so they can fight effectively at maximum range. But Ships of the Line would have difficulty targeting at the extremes of their range and their broadsides would be so dispersed that they would be wasting some damage.

Gunboats would make most sense as a type of small bombardment ship. Maybe as a unique unit for a civ like Denmark.

I’d also like to see some more fitting model/name changes in the later game, especially more steamships.

Caravel (whose model is actually a carrack) being the “basic fighting ship” till the end does not make much sense. Its use didn’t last long, and were not suitable for combats. Carracks/Galleons should be.
Galleon being a barracks/transport ship is also quite odd. And it’s a useless unit class. If I were to design from scratch I’d merge the first two ship types into the same upgrade line with model changes (caravel/carrack in age 2 which upgrades to galleon in age 3).

But for minimal changes, I think at least we shouldn’t still be using caravels, galleons, junks, etc. in the imperial age.
So maybe a tech in age 5 should replace the ships with a “steam” counterpart:
(Image stolen from Total War Shogun 2)
Frigate → Imperial Man-o-War

Bomb Ship → Imperial Monitor (the in-game model is not a monitor. It can upgrade to the true monitor)

Battleship → Imperial Battleship (stupid name, but so many ship types have already been used, so not many choices left)

Chinese and Japanese use very traditional ship designs. They could have a tech that transforms their “heavy fighting ship” (tekkosen/“the Chinese one that will be consored”) into Imperial Man-o-War. And they probably should not have the European “monitor” but their own gun ship, which then transforms into Imperial Monitor with the tech.

African and Native American ships are all small so they cannot upgrade into the fitting steam ships. But they could still have a tech that unlocks one or two of the steam ship types.

EDIT: there are too many unique units in the caravel and galleon classes, andmaking unique steam versions of them is difficult (not many names left). Maybe this should only apply to the “more advanced” ships which have fewer variations.

This is the only one I disagree with.

It would make more sense for Bomb Ships to become just a ‘better’ bomb ship - Heavy Bomb Ship or just Bomb Vessel, as the Monitor name and that image are just not linked at all.

The alternative is that they finally upgrade to Floating Battery. Floating Batteries are very sluggish (often towed!), normally armoured hulks which were purely to use as shore bombardment platforms.

To be honest I’m the 19th century both ships existed so it doesn’t matter too much. I just steer well away from the Monitor name and it’s real ship class.

FYI, the Haida word for canoe is Tluu. Gelwa is the Haisla word for canoe.

I think there needs to be a priority list for Naval reworking.

Naval AI.
This has to be the most important. There are more reasons not to pick water-focused maps over reasons to pick them and AI is a huge factor here.

Water incentive.
Currently water is mostly peripheral to the main action. If you can defend a coastline and occupy the seas with tons of fishing ships that’s great but otherwise it’s just background.
Now, Asian Dynasties introduced Water Treasures which gives incentive (though I’d like them to be added to American maps as well), however I think ‘capturables’ much like the capturable buildings in KotM maps would work really well on water-based maps as a focal point. By this I mean:

Neutral Water Fortications:

  • Sea Forts
    Forts built on rocky outcroppings, small islands or in the shallows were more common than you think. Having Neutral ones to capture with your ships could add a little tug-of-war element to water maps with the reward being a tough defensive point (possibly also a building that can train something interesting too, such as armed Rowboats?). French and Indian examples below (within the AOE3 timeline):

  • Shipping Beacons/Buoys
    Buoys of either wooden cask or raft variety representing out-of-map Trade Routes (like the Spanish Main for example). When captured they could help trickle in XP/Coin.

  • Lighthouses/Beacon
    These could appear on the coast or like the sea forts, on rocky outcrops at sea. When captured, they show all Naval units on the map.

Water Resources

  • Shipwrecks
    Another incentive could be shipwrecking. Shipwrecking itself could be an occupation during parts of the AOE3 timeline. In-game, water maps could have shipwrecks under the sea and gatherable in almost the same way fishing/whaling works - use you fishing vessel to gather the resources. Unlike the fishing, you gain Wood and Coin at the same time, albeit slower than fishing and whaling. This could also apply to coasts with grounded shipwrecks (ala campaign style) with these ones even providing Food as well (Cargo).

Naval unit improvement

  • A better, more uniform and intuitive unit counter system for naval units.
  • Civs that didn’t really have Ships (I’m talking large vessels, not boats), shouldn’t have certain canoes which can go toe-to-toe with big vessels. For those civs it should be all about speed and cheapness of building a ‘navy’ but along with a greater access to Mercenary/Alllied naval units.
  • All civs should have a Fireship/canoe type unit accesable along with their standard roster. It gets people out of bind, was used greatly in the time period by many civs, and I’d say most of humanity can work out to set fire to some floating wood.
  • With the slew of unit ‘replacement’ techs/shipments, the notion of archaic Naval units being replaced by way of Modernisation techs now seems more viable. Basically your 1500s War Junks and Caravels should be able to get replaced by Corvettes/Sloops-of-War and in the Imperial Age Armoured Steam Frigates would be a frightenly awesome sight replacing wooden Frigates.
  • More Unique naval Units - Race-Built Galleons, Nao/Carracks, Rocket Ships, Ghurabs, Jalba, Ganji, etc. There’s a huge pool of genuinely unique naval units and would add some more fun the existing civs.

Now AoE3 introduced something cool with the ships - they can all pretty much garrison units and work as transports. I think they should still do that - after all historically they did. However that element should be greatly reduced. Bringing a few people over as part of a ship’s crew or travellers was common but to bring whole armies across only happened with Troop Ships, i.e commerical/retired military ships coverted with the sole purpose of ferrying large amounts of soldiers over the sea. Bringing back a dedicated Transport Ship again adds a little more purpose and tactics to water. Your Caravel may be able to bring out 5-10 units and help you early in the game, however your Troop/Transport Ship can take 50-60 guys over and is cheaper than a Caravel. The downside? Well, now that’s a huge target (which is what we want!).


Maybe some day I’ll write up a big summary on just how limited it is.

Why not buildable?


I was mainly refering to Sea Forts as a purely neutral, capturable point of interest on maps, however they totally could be! As the ‘Villager of the seas’, the Fishing Vessels (looking abstractly as just a civilian boat with villagers on it) could build a Sea Fort or even ‘Harbour Walls’ (Sea Walls). I mean you could even bring back Fish Traps as well. I’d love a little marine-based building.

Anyhoo, look Devs! A Naval Rework topic at the top whilst you’re all working on an update! Hint hint :smiley:

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