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Naval power

Discussion in 'Strategy Section' started by crdvis16, Apr 24, 2020.

  1. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

    May 2, 2013
    Naval warfare feels so all or nothing. I'm playing a game as Spain right now so I was hoping to take advantage of their UA a bit and faith buy some navy. I have plenty of continental enemies, though, so I'm sorta split in how I'm using my unit cap between navy and army

    My army is doing OK. I've conquered Germany (almost entirely inland cities), defended against Russia and Morocco, and am now defending against an English army. I feel like any units I lose in my army are from me being too aggressive and taking chances. I can use terrain, ZoC, etc to get an edge. It feels like I'm rewarded for good play and punished for bad play (sometimes punished severely thanks to the great strides in AI tactics).

    My navy, on the other hand, has been fairly useless. I've amassed what felt like a decent number of ships a few times now in order to assist my army in taking cities or attempt to take some cities on their own. Each time I've gone out with the intention of making trouble I eventually run into an AI navy that seems to be twice as large. An army twice as large can be handled given proper tactics but on the high seas there's no real fight- you get swarmed as soon as you really engage. Boarding party means you often can't really try to ZoC your way into an advantage and it also means you can't really make an orderly retreat to at least save your ships. It feels much more like you're just trading units and then the guy with more pretty much out swarms you. Trading units isn't a very successful strategy at higher difficulties.

    My guess is that you either have to go all-in with your navy or you probably shouldn't bother beyond a token few for defense, if that. I don't find that in many of my games I can afford to go too heavy with my navy at the expense of unit count for my army- you almost always need a decent sized army for defense at the very least on a continents style map. Are others having success with sea power? Maybe they can be used against a civ that has just a single coastal city and therefor not likely to have as large of a navy?
    vyyt and Drakle like this.
  2. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

    Dec 31, 2005
    This is a common problem I deal with as well. So a few tricks I've developed over time.

    1) Any ships on the "edge" of my navy get Boarding Party II. While I really like the dreadnought line, if your ship gets hit with a BP....its dead meat...and you cannot afford that. So I will either go BP all the way, or BP II and then shift back into other things.

    2) I always maintain some Navigator II ships as lookouts. This is critical as ships are so quick, it gives me some early warning on when an enemy fleet is on the way. And its not enough to just plant the nav ships...I constantly send them half their speed out, and then back to their original point to give me as much visibility as possible.

    3) Generally I maintain 75% melee/25% ranged if I'm going open water. This starts to change to 50/50 as my cruisers get logistics (though with the new patch not sure how I'll do it).

    4) In open water I avoid the AI in most cases. Your right there navy will be twice mine....and in that case I pull back. If they follow me I will use home terrain as chokepoints or allowing my ranged units to do some damage from land. Only once that fleet breaks against my land do I adventure back out. Sometimes that is enough, sometimes I have to do it all over again.

    More than anything naval combat requires a lot of patience. If you make a mistake on land you generally lose 1 unit. If you do it in the sea, you can lose 4-5 ships...so you have to be so careful when you leave your harbors.

    5) When I'm moving in open water, I never use my whole movement unless I have guaranteed knowledge that everything is clear. I have fallen into so many traps just moving my navy along, now I will only move 2-3 speed....so if I do catch a big alpha fleet, I still have the movement to run. IT slows you down a lot, but its better than losing the whole fleet.

    6) If another player declares war on you....assume he has big fleets all near your ships (because he probably does). I generally immediately start pulling my ships back to friendlier waters, and then tentatively push them back out once I've re established complete vision and know the coast is clear. The AI is very good at dropping in on existing naval battles and crushing remaining fleets.

    7) Don't be bashful about using Great Admirals to heal. While the combat bonus is nice, there is nothing like bringing 6 near dead ships back to life. It can be a lifesaver if I do get pinched to ensure my fleet stays large and healthy. Its not just about losing the ship....each loss weakens your fleet, bringing you closer to the critical point where enemy fleets can just crush you completely. So I use my GAs to heal a lot, ESPECIALLY with imperalism.
    Arthur Jama, mtxdevil, vyyt and 2 others like this.
  3. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

    May 2, 2013
    Good points and all solid advice. I think my biggest problem this game has been not assuming that the enemy has a large naval force just out of sight. I carefully approached a city with my scout ship and the coast was clear. One or two ships trickled in and died but it was enough to pull me slightly out of safe position and gave a few of my ironclads the boarding party debuff. The next turn the rest of the fleet showed up and it was just over. I was in flight mode at that point but only a few ships made it to safety.

    I need to be way more cautious and way more realistic about what can be accomplished with a player's lower unit cap navy.
  4. tothePAIN

    tothePAIN Prince

    Dec 31, 2018
    Stalker's advice is very good.

    I would add that the key to eventually winning Navy is ranged ships. You need enough melee to protect your ranged ships. You need enough ranged ships so that you aren't just trading damage, since the AI will win melee damage trades over time.

    There's also a critical mass at which a navy becomes effective. Depending on the terrain, it might take 12-18 ships to go on the offensive. Some games, I try to build up a bunch of caravels and galleys and then upgrade them into corvettes and frigates and exploit the window of the technological advantage.

    I do also develop some city assault naval melee ships along the dreadnought line, but only a few.
    crdvis16 likes this.
  5. Pill

    Pill Chieftain

    Jan 5, 2006
    Great tips from all so far.

    Naval combat for me, I want to be the one to strike first. This sometimes means backstabbing and surprise attacks while they're at sieging another AI's city.

    To do that in a smart way, sight and movement is absolutely crucial (Great Lighthouse if you know naval combat is crucial early, Imperialism opener if you realize later). Scout and move around to flank their squishy ranged ships. Always end your turn with your ranged ships surrounded by melee.

    I find that if you win this first engagement, the AI has a tendency to try to retreat. This is where your sight and movement helps chase the stragglers down. If they have an overwhelming force, retreat and park on the edge of their full movement range (with you +1/+2 further away thanks to your movement!) to goad them to try to close the gap without being able to attack much.

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