there are many problems with water in the game, most importantly that it’s not fun or intuitive and feels frustrating and very gimmicky/cheesy, especially with frigate/monitor ponds and cards/ceremonies.
Fish and whale nodes infinite but can only hold 5 gathers per node. nodes per map rebalanced with an even split between shore and deep-water fish, whales are deep water exclusive map permitting.
Fishing boats no longer cost any population space but are capped at 25 per player. base gather rate reduced to weaken effect of free fishboats without investing in water, but there are now more fishing technologies at the dock.
without finite fish we can better tune fish gathering rates and cards as well as encourage better water map design. cards that increase water gather rate instead research fishing boat technologies for free or other effects.
more ships make the gameplay experience even worse, especially due to map/ship sizes and pathing. instead of going further into the aoe2 approach aoe3 should instead embrace smaller scale and more tactical engagements with fewer and more engaging ships.
all warships tuned to be more responsive with better collision and pathing. ships are more expensive and slower to train, and ship to ship combat is slower with less burst. ships have additional abilities and ammunition types to encourage micro and positioning, such as switching to short range heavy shots, high aoe percussive shots for land engagements, damage and armor reducing grape shot, or long-range slowing chain shot.
this would encourage better micro especially in multi ship engagements, such as setting a caravel to grape shot to weaken a target, using a galleons chain shot for the slow, and using your own frigates heavy shot to take it down. with longer lasting ship to ship combat with fewer ships, depth of gameplay will hopefully increase and make it an interesting and hopefully fun part of the game, rather than something one must tolerate and add 2 caravel/1 frigate card to deal with it.
warships start out weaker but there are now 3 tiers of upgrades at the dock separately for health and damage. there is also a universal imperial upgrade for all ships and further weakens warship cards without investment.
5 caravels unlocked in age 2, 3 galleons in age 3, and 2 frigates and 1 monitor in age 4. Nations without access to full roster of ships have captured/pirate/mercenary equipment to fill out roster, including the Inca. gameplay trumps historical accuracy, and they need more than just Chincha rafts for fun water gameplay for both sides.
naval cards overhauled, cards that increase ship combat instead research ship combat technologies for free or have a different effect. less ships per card in general as well. naval dance removed; captured/mercenary ships help native navies compete later in the game.