Water maps all-in to control sea?

So water maps. I’m not a great player by any means, but it feels like you spam wood, hit t2 at some point, and then duke it out with a ball of t2 fight boats. If you win, the game is basically over. Camp their shore and macro behind it and choke them out (if they don’t just flat out surrender).

Am I missing a strat here? I’ve had a few where people island hopped against me but it hasn’t worked out for them because I just have more boats, and a few rushed my main base but I just towered up and macro’d behind it and then killed their docks.

What do you do if you’ve lost the sea? Is it literally just game over? Is there any way to play water maps that isn’t essentially whoever wins the deathball t2 fight wins the game?

Every loss I’ve had I just got out-deathballed…mostly by mongols lately now that Hulks are nerfed I guess they are the go-to water civ (maybe? at mid elo?)

Essentially, here’s some strats you can use, in list of relevance.

  1. fast castle. Going to fast castle as any other civ than rus gives you attack ships, which should be demonstrably better pound for pound than arrow ships, as they are effectively default hulks or baghlah’s, or war galleys. Castles themselves are also exceptionally effective at anti water, and placing 1 or two will give strong zones of control on certain points, as they gain bonus damage vs ships, and can quickly deal a lot of damage to their mass. plus, getting +2 armor from reinforced hull, and the castle age blacksmith upgrade really shifts the balance in archer v archer matchups.

  2. defensive outposts - arrow ships do nothing vs outposts, so garrisoning 5 units in an outpost will produce 5x31 damage every 2.5 seconds. Defensive arrowslits (or handcannon for China) now extends the range to 8 and adds 35 DPS. This should be enough with 1 or 2 outposts to safely keep a dock or two active vs the naval opponent while you age or defend shorefish and some fishing boats and get a fleet out.

  3. Early island hopping onto large enough islands via early vills into a TC can also work, and can give you enough resources to fight the opponent, especially if they’re not expecting it or you hide it well, by still contributing to a decent water presence.

  4. wonder victories are relatively effective, if they can’t landmark snipe via water or snipe wonder via water.

  5. landmark sniping is also pretty effective, as if they are contributing to a large water push and you have a hidden base or a hidden dock, you can land and quickly kill them with rams before they get a land army out.

The water is a bit dynamic, but you are correct in that if you’re going fleet v fleet in open water, whoever has the larger or better fleet will win. If you’re betting on winning water and lose, then the best bet is to go castle, and try to hold a section of water with a castle while getting a fleet out.

A bit more consideration on the archer ship matchups.
The galley in castle age is one of the strongest archer ships. It gains reinforced hull, which gives it 7 base armor, which means if upgrades are equal, anything short of a galley or light junk are doing 1 damage to it. This means england and HRE are really good castle age archer ship civs, and this plays into their fast castle strategies. Castle age galleys > any other castle age archer ship.

The Junk civs, china and mongols, do not receive reinforced hull. The mongols have the light junk variant, an exceptionally cheap, high damage arrow ship with low HP. It drops off if you can negate that damage via hulk armor (8 with reinforced hull) or galley armor (7 with reinforced hull). It fairs exceptionally well vs most civs due to it’s high DPS but low cost comparison, and drops off in castle quickly due to no armored hull and low HP.

The Junk is one of the worst archer ships if not the worst, relying mainly on it’s HP pool to soak shots. It has 2 armor, and can’t be increased with reinforced hull. They also miss out on DPS sharing the same amount as a Dhow, while having 2 less armor. China should just go straight into war junks rather than fighting on water, except defensively with a few to fend off light attacks on fishing boats, unless you out eco or outproduce your opponent.

While the Dhow civs do receive reinforced hull, they only get 6 armor with it, making them a bit weaker than galleys against the 8 damage arrow ships. They are however the fastest, moving at a blistering 1.88 without sails. So they can definitely control when and where they fight. good raiders.

Hey thanks for the really solid post/advice. I’ve been playing a lot of China lately (and have suffered some losses on water) so #1 should really help since as you mentioned in your next post the China Junk is literally terrible.

I haven’t really tried 2 and 3 because I’ve beaten 2 and 3 every time but I can see how it would work. I think they were putting vills instead of say archers in their outposts.

Most of my losses lately have been on China getting out deathballed, agree that the Junk is literally terrible. Think I’ll try doing the castle age thing with some towers.