[Suggestions] Water maps gameplay needs IMPROVEMENTS

I, as well as many others, don’t like playing water maps (pure water maps like warring islands or archipelago, not hybrid ones). Very frequently when matchmaking gives me a water map, my opponent just quits. A lot of people are rejecting to play water maps, and I sympathize with them.

One of the reasons is because once you lose advantage in water, it’s too hard, almost impossible to come back from there. The games are decided by early battles, if your first fleet is destroyed, the enemy will just snowball from there. Every single ship you produce will be immediately outnumbered and destroyed. Then they will destroy your docks so you can’t even build ships anymore. And because ships are too effective when hitting land units, villager included, you can’t build new docks too because if your villagers come close to the shoreline, enemy ships will just kill them. Of course there is still a small chance that you can build a sneaky dock, do some sneaky dropping, or even build up a new fleet, but if your enemy is not braindead and they patrol the beach, your dock won’t last long. That also means your economy activities are shrunk down into just the inner part of the island, because enemy ships will kill any villager chopping wood or mining gold near the beach. The only remaining way to win is to build a wonder, but if you do that, they can just take sacred sites because sacred sites countdown is only 10 mins compared to wonder’s 15 mins (unless you can sneakily go cancel one of their sacred sites, as I did pull off once, but I’d admit that’s very hard and had to involve a lot of luck, which is that my opponent forgot to cover one corner of my island with his ships and I rebuilt my dock at that exact spot).

So in short, in water maps, the whole game is likely decided by just a first few minutes. Once you lose the early advantage, you’re done, there’s almost no way back. This makes the game feel very shallow

IMO there are a few reasons leading to that:

  • Docks on water are like Town Centers on land, but while Town Center can garrison a lot of units and have defensive arrows, docks can garrison only 3 ships (even ONLY fishing ships), and have no defensive system. You don’t have any way to defend your docks once you lose your fleet.

  • Ships are way too effective when dealing with land units, so you can’t do a comeback by focusing just on land. Ships have great damage and great health. More importantly, melee units who have torch damage which is effective against ships can’t get close to ships most of the time because of course the ships can just go a bit far away from the shoreline, torch can’t reach them, while all ships are ranged, and can shoot back. Bombards can deal with ships, but to get them you have to crawl to Imperial Age, and pay an expensive price, while your economy is already ■■■■ when you let them control water (as mentioned above), so it’s almost impossible.

So I’m suggesting these changes (either all of just pick some of these):

  • Ship’s damage to land units should be reduced by a lot, except for gunpowder ships like carracks. In history, I don’t think shooting men and buildings on land from a ship was really an effective strategy before we have cannons on ships, so this would also be more historically accurate. Water units should not dominate land units!

  • Consider adding bonus damage to ships for some ranged units before age 4, like springalds, so we have at least some way to push back all the ships parking on the shoreline to regain the water.

  • Add some defensive mechanism to docks, or better, allow war ships to garrison in docks, so that at least I have somewhere safe to hide my war ships when I’m outnumbered, and wait for the new ships to come and fight.

If none of my suggestions make sense, I would like to hear from a dev, what’s your thoughts about the current state of water maps and your reasonings behind the current water gameplay design.


I would love to see our spawn island 4 times bigger, with a river from the hart of the island going to sea.
This river with a reduced depth so the big warships can’t get into your base.

All this, so you are being able to recover on water, as soon you have lost the battle on sea and all your docks are gone while being surrounded by warships.

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The other problem is keeps / outposts don’t have good enough range to protect your waterline either.

I think docks need defensive emplacements and there should be a new building called dry dock perhaps where you can build the ship on land then send it into the sea.


Adding rivers connecting to the sea is a great idea! But it would still have to come with the nerf to ship strength vs. land units, or else enemy ships can just go straight from the sea to the heart of the island and you will have nowhere to hide.

I would go the route of making land defenses against ships more viable. Keeps, towers and units. Springalds getting a big buff to ships could help. Incendiary arrows should wreck ships (maybe come earlier?)

Right, but increasing keep/outpost range would also affect land battles, and actually I think with their bonus damage, keeps/outposts themselves are good enough to counter the ships, PROVIDED THAT you can erect them in the first place. The main reason they’re not a practical counter is that you can’t even build them because your villagers die to ships so damn quickly. So I think the solution still comes down to nerfing ship damage to land units.

What if the bonus range was naval only? As in, it applied to firing against ships only?

Sort of like how the (land) firing range is different from the vision range, and the influence range (English / Mongols for e.g.)?

I feel the real issue with water is just that its incredibly boring.

I mean you can buff dock defences so you are less able to take control of the water with a lot of feudal age ships.

But… that just means both players will be on water in the Castle Age (and up) throwing demo ships at each other. Which is what often happens on River Maps (Mongolian Heights, Danube, Confluence) where its hard to get complete control of the coast - because things like Outposts and ranged units can shoot boats that sail in. Said Demos destroy anything they touch. Which is just a bit stupid.

I would buff tower damage against ships. Make them shoot ships automatically without need for researching techs while you should still research it against land units and definitely nerf demos.

Yes, ships and water are nice to watch. A lot of nice work have been done. However there is lack of good functionality. Defending and early game play should be nerf, I totaly agree.
Plus there are other things too. I’m not a type who want have AOE as realistic as possible, but just see hulks or even galleys crossing river fords, moving on the shoal without any stucking, …plus that owful necesity of dancing in the battle… Man so many stuff done sooo much well in this game, but…

The only boats that move as fast as cav are the weaker arrow boats (Dhow and Light Junk). Attack boats like the hulk move at MAA speed or slower and carrack style boats move at the speed of siege.

Thanks for the fix, that’s factual.

I agree with a lot of sentiments, probably the biggest issue is the difficulty of coming back on water, redocking is so hard since warboats have such good range and damage. In aoe2, towers outranged boats and killed them quite quickly and boats didn’t cover as much of the shoreline.

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We definatly need to nerf ships vs land, the damage of ships is insane and can negate an entire land army if they need to pass water.

A springald buff to ships is also needed, since we dont have a land vs water counter anymore

Destroy demo ship and maybe this idiot naval gameplay maybe will be healthyer.

At the moment on hybrid map it’s a fight about who will have more demo ship for destroying land army ===> incredibly stupid and not fun.

On naval map the gap between faction is just abyssal. For lot of faction if you wanna fight on water you have to go on castle age because earlyer you are just useless.

The second problem is to there is no naval defense. 80% of my naval game are decided in 7 minutes on the first push.

This gameplay need just a total rework and the naval map with it.

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I suggest that a building like a defensive dock aka shorecastle should be added where you can garrison a fair few ships in like 10*ish basically a castle ye with defensive upgrades like a castle, this would prevent the snowbally-ness of water maps from being as bad as it is currently because atleast you’d have an area that is defendable untill bombard ships come into play, currently once you lose water you generally never comeback and you’ll never get a dock back up again its just a game were you wait for your opponent to basically either wonder or land you something you cant have any counterplay against since you’re stuck on 1islands resources the entire game its just a slow autoloss once you cant get out on the map anymore

They could inprove tower damage vs ships, like in AOE2 givin a lot of damage vs ships like lancers vs cavalry

Towers already have bonus damage vs. ships but it can’t help if you can’t even build towers before ships kill all your villagers

Even in castle age it’s a mess between factions:
War Junk (Chinese, Mongols):

  • 2x120dmg / 4.5sec = 53.33 dps if you spin to win.
  • 900hp
  • 6.5 tiles
  • 6 pierce armor
  • cost: 300W, 210G

Baghlah (Abassid, Delhi)

  • 2x50dmg / 3.25sec = 30.77 dps if you spin to win + 2.67dps from arrows, so 33.437 dps.
  • 900 hp
  • 5 tiles
  • 5 pierce armor
  • cost: 240W, 180G

So the Delhi/Abassid ships cost ~15% fewer resources, but they deal a whopping 30% less damage AND have less armor AND have equal HP.
They are faster, yes but what does that matter if your range is shorter.

The only thing they have got going for them (castle-age plus only) is that the Delhi and Abassid have stronger explosive ships… and also counters to explosive ships due to having arrows.

I think they need more hp if they have such a big damage difference. Just like how the imperial war ships are balanced with damage and hp.

Not so related to the topic though. The core issue still remains that once you lost water it’s just game over. The full water maps would still be trash even if balancing gets fixed.

Let’s be real. Imagine if you could rebuild docks and build a new army in a safe way somehow. From that first loss you probably lost like 10-20 fishing ships. So your economy took such a big hit it’s likely to be game over anyway.

Docks really need to act like town centers where you can store 10 or 20 ships, and they (the docks) need to be able to fight ships properly.

Not so related to the topic though. The core issue still remains that once you lost water it’s just game over. The full water maps would still be trash even if balancing gets fixed.

Yeah, that’s part of the water niche. You either win the water or you lose, on every water map, in just about every RTS game. Water maps are supposed to play significantly different than land only maps, it just happens that a lot of people don’t like the kind of difference they make.

I’ve always enjoyed a good water map game in the past, but I’d really enjoy some extra balance. Still, if I lose the water, I’ll say, “Gg, wp, see you around.”