Water Rework Ideas


Water is unpopular in AoE2 (and all other AoEs tbh.) for a variety of reasons.
Water was originally planned to have a lot more variety but most of it got scrapped before release.

Cut content

  • Outside of map trading (Trade Cogs could trade with the edge of the map)
  • Boarding ship that works like a water monk
  • Builder Ship that can build Sea Walls, Sea Towers and Docks as well as being able to repair other ships
  • Docks were supposed to be a much larger building

Why is water boring

  • No terrain, all water types are the same
  • No buildings other then docks
  • Boring units
  • Limited interaction between land and water
  • Big snowballing effect
  • Even contesting a pond full of Cannon Galleons on a land map is hard


Water terrain

Make the different kinds of water behave differently.

Shallow Water

  • Allows placement of docks (like it does now)
  • Allows building of Sea Walls and Sea Towers
  • Ships move slower

Medium Water

  • No effects
  • No buildings can be build

Deep Water

  • Ships move faster
  • No buildings can be build

Dock split

Split Dock into 2 building. A civil one and a military one.
The Military one is bigger, more expensive but also has build in defence.

Why 2 buildings:

  • The Dock is the only building with 2 pages
  • The Dock has to many functions: Town Centre, Market and Barracks in one
  • The Dock is also cheaper then those 3 buildings
  • It’s hard to control trade lines since Trade Cogs will automatically take the longest path even if the dock they go to is at the front lines


  • Available starting in Castle Age
  • Costs Wood and Stone (Maybe 150W 100S)
  • Trains most military ships
  • Has a build in tower that has strong attack vs. ships but weak vs. land units
  • Can garrison civilian ships
  • Affected by Archer upgrades and Arrow Slits

Main ships

Scout Ship

  • Only military ship trained at the Dock
  • The Galley is part of this unit line
  • Fires a single arrow
  • Only costs Wood
  • Weak against almost all other military ships
  • Upgrades also all just shoot arrows (It removes the awkward transition from Galley to War Galley that feels like a downgrade)
  • Affected by Archer attack upgrades from the Blacksmith
  • Faster and more agile then most military ships
  • Available from Feudal Age

Scorpion/Ballista/Springald Ship

  • Main attack ship (War Galley and Galleon)
  • Not and upgrade to the Scout Ship
  • Fires a bolt
  • Medium Melee and Pierce armour
  • Affected by Archer attack upgrades from the Blacksmith
  • Affected by Ballistics
  • Available from Castle Age

Melee/Ramming ship

  • Attacks in Melee (grappling hook animation) with maybe a range of 1
  • Has a charged attack
  • High Melee armour and low Piece armour
  • Affected by Melee attack upgrades from the Blacksmith
  • Fastest Ship (next to Scout Ships)
  • Available from Castle Age

Mangonel/Onager Ship

  • Attacks with ranged melee attack (like Magonel on land)
  • Attack damage is evenly distributed between every projectile
  • Has minimal range
  • Does not outrange Towers and Castles
  • Low Melee armour and high Pierce armour
  • Affected by Siege Engineers
  • Not affected by Ballistics
  • Available from Castle Age

Cannon Galleon

  • Unchanged

The rock paper scissors is:
Scorpion Ship > Boarding Ship > Mangonel Ship > Scorpion Ship

The Scorpion Ship can take out the Melee Ships before they get to close.
The Melee Ships can evade Mangonel Ships attacks and engage them in melee where they can’t fight back. They also have high melee armour so they take less damage from Mangonel Ships.
The Mangonel Ship can tank Scorpion Ship bolts while being able to devastate them with their large AoE attack.

Other ships

Demolition Ship

  • Unchanged
  • Should be removed from some civilisations

Fire Ship

  • Replacement for the Melee Ship for some civilisations (Not just the Byzantines)
  • Pierce Armour reduced to make them weak against Scorpion Ships
  • Generally rebalanced
  • Should be stronger then the Melee ship in most situations

Building Ship

  • Can build See Walls, Sea Towers and Docks in shallow water
  • Can repair ships
  • Build at the Dock

Boarding Ship

  • Can convert other ships in Melee
  • Takes bonus damage from Scout Ships
  • I’m not really a fan of this unit but it’s a fan favourite and it’s already implemented
  • Maybe as a new unique or regional unit


  • Unchanged
  • Still a Cannon Galleon replacement
  • Worse in Ship vs. Ship combat then the Mangonel ship but higher ranged

Unique ships


  • Unchanged
  • Potentially given a transport feature and/or the feature to train Berserkers

Turtle Ship

  • Unchanged


  • Unchanged or given a gunpowder attack (like a swimming Organ Gun)


  • Unchanged

Siege Weapons

The Mangonel and especially Scorpion lines get bonus damage against Ships like Bombard Cannons already do.
They also take reduced damage from ship attacks.
They still have to be careful when fighting Mangonel Ships.

Unique Siege units also get some bonus damage against Ships too (Organ Gun, Ballista Elephant and Hussite Wagon)

Maybe make Heated Shot also affect Siege units too.

This gives more opportunities to fight back from Land against a naval supremacy.


Neutral Tradepost

  • Acts like a Market
  • Everyone can trade with it
  • Gives Wood instead of Gold (amount is the same)
  • Only appears on some water maps


  • Like Fish but generate Gold instead of Food
  • Are also finite like Fish
  • Needs Whaling technology (which itself requires Gillnets)
  • Also don’t appear on every map

Wood is often more scarce then gold on water maps, especially in team games.
Unlike Gold there is no infinite way to generate wood while all ships cost wood.

Adding Whales as Gold source for water allows map creators to make the water more interesting by adding more then just 1 resource to fight over.
I think this should be gated behind a technology though so it doesn’t change the early game economy balance too much.

General thoughts

Many people have been talking about how the Rome at War mod does water but that introduces a lot of new ships and let’s most civilisations build a lot more ships compared to AoE2.
I think that’s a little overkill. Plus many ship types only make sense in an ancient setting.

My idea was to create a reasonable, relatively easy to understand but also fun to play with core balance.
Kind of a similar dynamic then Crossbows, Long Swordsman/Knights and Mangonels on land.


I feel your post in a previous thread is valid complaint.


A previous water rework discussion thread, where I have collected numerous opinions I’d seen:

Hypothetically, it seems there are two strategies to make water “better”:

  • One is make it more like the original AoE1, where it is consciously designed as a simple supplement to the game’s real meat, which is land warfare, and performs well in that role.

  • The other is to flesh it out further, adding depth until it becomes fun, which is what the majority of suggestions I’ve seen over the years have been trying to do.

Here’s the catch:

  • The first strategy, the simple, supplementary, unintrusive water game of AoE1, works;

  • The second strategy, to furnish the water game, has been tried again and again (Age of Kings adding ship types, The Conquerors adding naval formation, African Kingdoms water rework, AoE4 replicating the water rework), but never seems to quite reach the goal.

At this point, perhaps we should consider the possibility that there is wisdom in simplicity, and the path of “adding more” is a dead end not worth pursuing?

On the other hand, we do have the Romae ad Bellum mod making the boldest water rework in an AoE game. I’d like to hear @TheConqueror753’s evaluation of their result.


Eh I think a triangle balance with ships with similar costs is just too simple. AoE4 is a bit better but I think there should be at least 5 or 6 viable ships around mid game imo

While I like the idea of a water rework I never was interested in naval warfare in general, and I could risk that most player base neither.
I think this an aspect to take in count. AoE engine wasn’t builded thinking in naval engagements.
If you played StarWars galactic battlegrounds could maybe feel the same with air combat system.
I think water maps are unpopular not because boring units or mechanics, but because naval warfare is much more unpopular itself compared with land warfare.

1 Like

Correction - Docks were supposed to be 2 buildings. Port is for non-combatant ships, dock is for battle ships.

There are 3 different water terrains and fishes can live in only 1.

I don’t think so. Units are okay imho. It is the game play that is boring.

These are very true. Add 2 more points

  • Only 1 type of resource.
  • No hill for strategic advantage. (I saw custom maps with hills on water though).
1 Like

I dont know if More Units leads to more fun.

My Personal Problem with water is that the unit often feel clanky when moving them around.( more in Bigger Groups).
my Next Problem is that even if you win Big fight on Water thy Feel never as relavant as Land battel I Always need Land units do Destroy the enemy Base. So on full Water maps i need to start landing the other Island with units That are cost most of the time other Recources then I have to use for ships.
and my last porblem ist thats on the most Full Water maps ther is so Much empty Space. So the only thing i Fightig for is to reduce the number of Enemy Ships. Ther is no expantion. Ther are no extra Gold, Wood or Stone in the Water. and even when ther is fish it is often to inefficent to collekt.

So to make Water more intersting the water it selfe hat to change to. More intress Point on the water to fight over. Maby same water recources or a neutral Trading post (harbour).

1 Like

Right now there is a rock, paper, scissors relationship between the three main ships, then you add the cannon galleon which isn’t great vs any of them but is good vs buildings.

It’s like having just pike, skirm, scouts, and bombard cannon.

Imagine playing a land game and you only had access to those four unit lines except for the occasional UU.

Yes, just adding more water units for the sake of adding units wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem, you’d need to have well designed counters and interactions, but I think it is a large part of the problem.

There definitely is merit to this. Hera has some video out there somewhere, like 5 biggest upgrades that are downgrades or something like that. pretty sure galley to war galley topped the list. Basically Ware Galleys are clunky to use.

IDK if making the unit smaller would help, or just their collision box. IDK if pathfinding improvements would help.

Honestly I think this is probably the most important point, though because the solution isn’t as obvious it’s not talked about as much. Water can give you food from fish/fish traps and gold from trade. No stone. No Wood. There aren’t any choke points cause by…“water terrain”, no elevation. One patch of empty water is about as important as another patch of empty water. Even if you added more islands full of resources to fight over the water isn’t interesting in it’s own right, only because of the land it happens to be adjacent to.

Not a serious suggestion, only an illustrative example. Imagine if water had currents, where ships could travel faster and maybe have an attack bonus if moving in the direction of the current. Basically like an elevation advantage. Then water is more interesting. Not all water is the same. I’m advantaged if i control specifically this water more so than if I control that water. My opponent has incentive to try wresting control of that specific water away from me, etc, etc, etc.


Totally agree.
Water itself must be more interesting in terms of resources to offer.
Interaction between water units and land units should be improved too.
Just an idea, but I think galley-line shoudl be able to transport units, and the same way than rams, infantry should give garrisoned ships some kind of boost.


What if some water maps had neutral Trading posts that provide Wood instead of Gold?

Wood is often a more valuable resource on water maps then Gold since there are ways to generate infinite Gold but Wood will always eventually run out, especially because all ships cost Wood.

Stone should be a scarce resource and you can already get infinite Food if you can get infinite Wood.

Also maybe add Wales like in AoE3 that give Gold instead of food but make them finite unlike in AoE3 where they are infinite.
Maybe collecting Gold from wales requires a technology so you can’t do it in the early game.

I don’t like the idea of hills on water, they don’t exist
Water is inherently a flat surface, well besides the waves but we won’t get wave simulation.

My main suggestion is not really increasing the number of units an individual civilisation can train (maybe by 2) but to make the main rock paper scissors more interesting.
I only suggest splitting up the Galley line because that would allow one Military ship to be in the Dock while all others are in the Shipyard.
Also because the transition from Galley to War Galley feels like a downgrade in manoeuvrability.

In AoE3 all ships are transports and some even work like barracks at the shore.
AoE3 has a lot of other issues on water but those 2 features make it a lot easier to carry a fight from land onto the sea.
Originally the Longboats were planed to be able to carry units and to train Berserkers at the shore. But the idea was scrapped because of technical issues.

In AoM Longboats are the only military ship that can carry some troops.

Unfortunately AoE4 went back to the AoE2 ways of doing things on water.

There is no real rock, paper, scissors between the main 3 ships though.
Mass Galleons will destroy Fire Ships because of their size and pathing.
Demolition Ships are only 1 time use.

So we don’t even really have that.

Ships are already too small and cheap in my opinion.
A ships is a vessel that carries multiple people, yet some land units cost more then a ship.
Ships should not be as small and nimble as land units.

Agree. Bigger, powerfull and expensive ships that can transport units could make water maps transition to land game more interesting. AoE is mainly a land warfare game. So water play should add some flavor but not become in a kind of closed map with less unit’s diversity.

true. It’s intended as a rock, paper scissors. It’s rock, paper, scissors on paper, though often times it isn’t actually.

To be clear I didn’t suggest this because I thought ships would make more sense if they were smaller, just that they might be more fun that way. Maybe it’d be too visually jarring. Maybe they’d even be less fun.

When the point of the discussion is what is needed to make water fun, and land units are more responsive than water units, maybe the reality of boats being bigger and less responsive is detracting from the fun.

Just thinking, maybe you should just be able to build wooden bridges using Building Ships (or Fishing Ships if we don’t add Building Ships)

They could only be build on shallow water (so map creators can still prevent you from doing so if they want to) and they could be easily destroyed by ships (especially Demo ships).

This way it would still force you to have naval supremacy but make it a lot easier to transition to a land invasion.


Buildable bridges is an idea that is there since a lot of time. I think engine can’t deal with changing some terrains properties like if it is walkable or not., but surely landing should be improved. Nowadays transporting mechanic is so microintensive and annoying that landing with massive number of units is just frustrating.


You can always not like hills on water but them not being exist shouldn’t be a reason for this game.

I thought the engine can handle bridges bring placed via triggers so why not ones built in gameplay.
It can also handle when buildings or trees are destroyed which changes where you can go or not.

Currently you basically have to build a base on the enemy’s island somehow to be able to fight them. Which is pretty annoying.


That wasn’t a suggestion just mentioning a cut feature.

Actually, it can’t do so. The game doesn’t recalculate terrain at any point, building a bridge with triggers can only be done in a way that works through using DAT file modding to get the right terrain set up to look like the bridge is being built properly.

Those are objects, they don’t force terrain recalculations.

1 Like

My biggest concern is that you could block your own ships with a bridge. also couldn’t map makers just use the green shallows water? However I really like the idea of giving the player agency to make changes to the water. you can build all sorts of stuff on land, and a bridge would be nice so you didn’t have to mess with transports if you didn’t want to. IDK, i’m of two minds on this.

this alone would be an intersting change. drop everything else, see how it plays out. suddenly there is intersting micro to be done with different water types

maybe make it so shallows slow (the green stuff)

this is by design. games should end

my prediction is this: if any such revolution of water mechanics happens, the very next day there will be a data mod with old water balance and it becomes the most popular mod

1 Like

I definitely agree that games should end, but most land games don’t end like this. They go into a trash war. Wood is usually plentiful enough that it doesn’t run out, and you usually get at least a 5x1 conversion on wood to food, so churning out trash can last for a long time. Eventually wood will run out but maybe… 1/1000 games. Admittedly I’m pulling that number from my backside. Complete guess. Basically I think it’s very rare a land map comes to a complete halting grid. Nobody wants a game to end in a stalemate, and land maps basically never do.

However water maps have less wood than a comparable land map, but are also more wood intensive. Getting into that endstate is likelier to happen. And unlike gold running out in land map, where you get a fixed trickle from relics and fixed low price from wood and food at the market to get that smidge of gold for that occasional siege weapon, if you run out of wood, you’re paying more and more and more gold for that same wood.

Land maps typically have an upper limit of how grindy they get. Water maps less so.

I think an innocuous change would be that wood has some upper limit of price at the market. IDK if that’s 200G or 1000G, but I think there should be some limit. Yes the game could still get grindy, but at least there would be some upper limit of how grindy it could get.