Looking at my recent 220.127.116.11 test games I must state that I've begun to disregard (early- and mid-game) naval exploration to my own surprise. Several recent changes combine to make this less interesting and thus less important: 1 - ships gain max 2 xp for fighting sea animals 2 - the ai seeks very effectively naval goody huts 3 - combat vs ai units occasionally give 0 xp at all (might have been a bug) 4 - the ai is very effective at gaining FFs, mostly Exploration ofc, so that you have to decide carefully which FF to pick, i.e. Exploration FFs won't be your priority, so that you don't have a pressing need to rush naval exploration... My naval exploration is now only done by ships which can actually attack sea animals and it ends once 2 of those have been fought, i.e. by reaching the 2 xp threshold. In earlier incarnations of the mod my first SOLs and also the Manowar were regularly sent out to explore the map. They were able to acquire a good bunch of xp and other goodies. And only by doing so they were able to get all those promotions which made them the fearsome enemies of the Royal Navy which they needed to be. From a gameplay perspective it was a silly endeavour and it was not funny at all. The deeper reason was to build up xp which otherwise could not be gained. Naval units had and have serious problems gaining any xp at all. Even if you employ your major warships regularly for supporting naval bombardment they don't earn any xp - which IMHO should be changed (arty suffers from that, too). And, also, there are so few ships in use by the ai they'd hardly see any naval combat at all pre-WOI. If you've really bad luck you'll only get one measly xp for sinking the pride of your opponent's navy. Seizing prizes happens so rarely it's not even worth mentioning although IRL it was (almost) the usual outcome of a decisive battle. (keep in mind that line tactics effectively ruled this out for the main battle squadrons) In addition to that founding fathers give rarely naval promotions. The recent changes, although I do like them, and they fulfil their purpose, have made this problem worse. True, the original Colonization, its remake and the predecessors of WTP have focussed on other aspects of the game. Although, thankfully, a bunch of new ship types have been added, the naval side of WTP shows the same weaknesses as its ancestor CIV4. TBH there's room for improvement. To spice up the naval side of the mod a broader approach is necessary. XP and promotions * Does the allocation of xp which are gained by army and naval units after battles work as intended? * Many naval promotions give bonusses a (well trained) crew should have simply gained by ... sailing. A second look at how gaining 'experience' for ship(crew)s was done by DOANE could give some pointers. (having actual crews might be an option but is not proposed by me) * IMHO it's worthwhile to re-visit promotions in general and replace a major part of them with CivEffects once certain "techs" are researched or thresholds passed. * Can we use xp as a general modifier for calculating battle strength? "tech" tree: inventions & doctrines * The planned introduction of a "tech" tree will allow among other things the invention of (improved) telescopes, better guns, improved rigging, and better shipbuilding techniques by introducing better ship types over time. The ships of your navy won't get better stats by suddenly achieving a promotion but by being replaced with better, more modern ships. This would nicely represent the evolutionary change of sailing ships during the Age of Sail. * Naval doctrines, represented by "techs", and xp gained by naval combat could be used as a new measure for naval professionalism ("naval tradition") which could hand out free (tactical?) promotions to naval units automatically once a certain threshold and/or date has been passed. * More ship types, which would get outdated over time and then replaced by more modern ones, would remove also the fixation (/pressure) on the improval of one specific ship. * Ships which are cheaper and faster to build would cause less pain if accidentally lost. Together with the introduction of load capacity this should lead to overall larger fleets and less void maps, thus making naval combat during war times far more interesting. * In general, the more ships you have the less you care if one is lost. * We might introduce ship types dedicated to exploration which would have a higher speed than regular warships. This would be balanced by the removal of its cargo slot. Yep, I'm looking here at the sloop which regularly shows up way too early in the game and is used by the ai conveniently to pick up all the naval goody huts. Sailing * During the Age of Sail ships were dependent upon the prevailing winds and could not adhere to invisible lines drawn in the water which are unfortunately enforced by cultural borders. Setting bRivalTerritory to 1 would allow all naval units to enjoy the "Freedom of navigation". * Sailing in uncharted waters is hazardous. ATM all ocean plots look and are the same, especially with regard to gameplay effects (besides some defensive bonus in coastal waters). Coastal waters which actually look like shallow waters would be an improvement. Shallow water plots could be placed alone or grouped on the map. Navigation for large ships should be impossible here. Medium and shallow draft ships might encounter reefs and shoals here which could damage or even sink your ship. Shallow water plots might reduce the speed of medium and shallow draft ships, i.e. have a higher movement cost. Once these plots are within your cultural borders the shallow water plots could be passed safely by your ships, being counted as surveyed and properly charted. [If we're able to store the information who has explored a plot we might also be able to store the information if it has already been trespassed, i.e. a water plot would be either unknown, spotted, trespassed or surveyed.] * Improved methods of sailing, as represented by the Seaways of DOANE, would be a neat addition. * I'm missing a faster option to sail to my other American colonies. Sailing 10+ turns is not funny - and usually circumvented by sailing to Europe/Africa/PR and back to my real target. This option could nonetheless work similar to sailing to Europe/Africa/PR, i.e. by entering an ocean plot and then choosing the target of your travel. Naval exploration * To make early naval exploration more worthwhile it might be interesting to give the first explorer of a plot bonus exploration points. But then the game needs to track exploration accurately... (e.g. game with 8 players: 8 xp, 7 xp, 6 xp, etc., or: 5 xp, 4 xp, 3 xp, 2 xp and 1 xp for the latter four of them; knowledge of plots gained by exchanging maps should give you ofc only 1 xp) If we go in this direction the cost of exploration FFs might have to be doubled (or tripled). * As an additional incentive to conduct early naval exploration we might introduce random quests by the king or merchants to explore certain parts of the map (e.g. find Cipangu, find the Spice Islands, discover the Northwest Passage, etc) or to discover the colonies of a rival European power. * Naval goody huts should be refreshed on a regular basis - maybe after entering a new era? The survivor or the drifting ship do fit more to later eras than the early travels of exploration. This would fit fine with the recently proposed shipwreck goody hut, too. * To encourage naval exploration of the coasts and the seas in the Americas it should have a direct effect on the "tech" tree and its CivEffects, actually these should be interwoven. [given time I'll write later this week separately to give you an impression how interwoven naval exploration, innovations in navigation, armament and shipbuilding (hull, masts, sails) historically were, especially with regard to trade winds] Spotting ships * Most of you remember how Pirates handled the spotting of ships. Sure, even if we don't want to copy that, nonetheless the question arises why we always know the owner of the ship which we spotted just a moment ago in 2+ hexes distance. The ownership of a ship should be hidden unless we're in the neighbouring plot. * Naval units should always look similar if of the same type. Nation-coloured units would otherwise give the nationality away easily. * Can the strength and the promotions of enemy units be hidden from the player? That would remove an important advantage the player has over the ai. Piracy * Pirates and Privateers should only rob the cargo they're interested in. The remaining cargo would stay on the merchantman which would not(!) be lost. * A merchantman could have it's own treasure chest which could be seized by the pirates. Pirates are looking for easy prey and easy money. Just a thought: why not let pirates gather this gold which could be "saved/liberated" once you've defeated them, i.e. sort of a swimming treasure? * ATM losing transports (and colonists) can have really nasty effects for your colonies. Lady Luck can be a ***** sometimes. My guess would be that the ai suffers more from this than the player. Maybe we'd bring the historical ransoming of passengers to the game by giving a fixed(?) reward for each type of colonist if these are passengers of the harassed ship. * The employment of Privateers, i.e. their ability to capture the cargo of enemy merchantmen, should be restricted to times of war. * Fighting piracy is also a no-brainer. Just by looking at the model of the newly spotted ship we know immediately that danger is nearing and can act accordingly. This is a huge advantage for the player. When we revise the naval units after introducing the "tech" tree we should consider adding a broad variety of pirate ships which should look exactly like merchants or minor warships. Sort of invisibility in plain sight. How about the occasional pirate war galleon? ;-) * IIRC it's possible to set up patrol areas for warships. If not we'd introduce such a feature as a mission for warships. How about being able to sponsor pirates and assigning them special patrol areas? Naval combat * Naval units involved in combat should have their sailing speeds compared. The faster ship should get an additional 10% withdrawal chance for each point difference which should allow faster ships to avoid combat on a regular basis especially if attacked by 'battleships'. If possible, both ships should then in the same plot. Removal of gamey/silly tactics * Naval units, with the notable exception of the whaling ship and, maybe, the fishing boat, should be unable to attack sea animals although they could still be attacked by those. * Naval units should not rush to the defense of cities if all other defenders have already been defeated. Especially merchantmen should have a high chance of being captured upon the seizure of the city while warships should have a high chance of escaping to the sea. Escaping ships which encounter blockading ships should incur in that battle a reduced withdrawal chance hampering their chance to escape again. * The teleporting of damaged ships during battle should be removed. Escaping to a neighbouring plot should be the usual outcome. * If you need a new ship you simply buy it. And - voila - there it is: ready for service. Well, actually a ship needs to be built. Thus you'll have to wait until its completion. As long as a game turn has a length of one year this is not a problem, since the ship will be ready in the next turn. In the later stages of the game the turns happen in shorter intervalls, i.e. we'll have rely on correct historical build times which should automatically be translated into game turns. If you're in a hurry you might consider buying a ship which is already in use. A ship which is actually for sale of course! Logs * The combat log itself could be improved with some polishing touches. * In addition, we need a new set of battle messages to be shown in the message log, which are entirely dedicated to naval warfare. You don't need to love my proposals, it's just food for thought although IMHO by moving along these lines we'd achieve an overall better (naval) game experience. PS: Did I mention that more ships afloat means also more naval combat?