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The Underappreciated Navy

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Craniumgroup, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Piece of Cake

    Piece of Cake Chieftain

    Jan 9, 2005
    OP: Finally, someone has articulated what I've been thinking about the Civ series through four generations of games now. Although I've only been playing Civ4 for a few days now, I must say I'm greatly disappointed that there have been no real innovations or improvements to the naval aspect of the game. Not only have they failed to add naval units or expand naval play, but in fact, they've actually contracted this aspect of the game with the elimination of privateers (a concept which I enjoyed, even if they were ultimately ineffective.)

    Alas, here's what they could have done with Civ4:

    1. Expanded the "armies" idea to the creation of "fleets" at sea.

    2. Created a Ship of the Line class beyond the ordinary frigate, because let's face it, ships of the line were decisive, and the frigates basically stayed out of the way at Trafalgar. They actually did this with the Napoleonic scenario in C3C, so how hard could it have been to do this?

    3. Made the Nimitz class carrier the unique unit for America. (In my opinion, the Nimitz class carrier is actually the most appropriate symbol and projection of modern military power the American superpower era.)

    Based upon my reading of the discussions in this thread, I think people tend to see use of naval units as an adjunct to the wars fought on land. While it is certainly true that a decisive naval engagement can thwart a land invasion (as in 1805), naval power goes far beyond that. Anyone looking for a good (and surprisingly entertaining) read on the influence of naval power should read Arthur Herman's book, "To Rule the Waves." While reading this book, I have to confess that I was secretly hoping that the Civ4 developers were reading it as well. This book demonstrates how a tiny island nation like Britain, roughly the size of Idaho, with no substantial army to speak of, became the preeminent world power through its navy. After reading his book, a Civ player would conclude that a strong navy is not just a deterrent to land invasion, but it is the key to expansion, colonization, establishment of trade, creation of capital, and yes, expansion of culture. All of which are clearly relevant pricinples of the Civ series.
  2. JakeCourtney

    JakeCourtney Villain

    Oct 11, 2005
    Liberty, IL
    Yes, Navies would be more fun to use if they had more uses. I love your ideas.
  3. shackleton

    shackleton Warlord

    Nov 8, 2005
    The reason navies were so important pre-railways was because it was incredibly hard to move goods and people (armies) around.

    Really, resources should only be able to travel so far overland. After that, they would have to travel by sea (or by river! rivers are sorely overlooked), and that sea travel should be represented by an automated galleon or something which moved back and forth between connected cities.

    Suddenly navies become important if an AI can take out your merchant route and prevent you getting bronze to your more distant cities, regardless of whether they have a land connection or not.

    Also it's kind of cheesy the way you make a port and suddenly you have total connections to pretty much the entire world without having to actually develop trading routes :)
  4. Craniumgroup

    Craniumgroup Chieftain

    Nov 22, 2005
    Thank you, Piece of Cake, for your post! That is exactly the point I am trying to make. Hopefully, a Firaxis developer reads some of this stuff and it sparks an idea for a future patch.

  5. Blazer6

    Blazer6 King

    Aug 15, 2005
    Barbarian pirates could be sponsored by nations. You can make contact with a barbarian unit and dial them up and pay a fee for them to attack a selected civ for a pillaging operation.
    The payment will pay by the ship, fully loaded with obsolete units who will remove improvements and perhaps even attack one low pop city for a higher fee before disbanding automatically.
    The fleet would invade a few turns after payment (from building) and appear hugging the borders of the target civ before landing.
  6. Craterus22

    Craterus22 King

    Oct 7, 2001
    When does the global warming effects start reversing - THAT is the real question...
    On topic - I also was extremely disappointed in the regression of the navy game... ai "seems" to be improved in using them... but I have only seen them used a few times (meaning they aren't building many IMHO).

    here is my contribution...

    In addition to aircraft carriers projecting culture perhaps ships of the line could project weaker culture?
  7. Number16_123

    Number16_123 Chieftain

    Nov 21, 2005
  8. JohnnyRico

    JohnnyRico Chieftain

    Nov 4, 2005
    I'm not a sailor or a fisher, but to my knowledge there are no fish in any quantity too far off the continental shelves. Apparently sailors lost at sea used to cannibalize each other ... a lot (look up "long pork" :drool: ) I always wondered why (wouldnt it be easy to just throw a net in the sea and take some food out?) Apperantly not, whales and mammals may wander far from shore, but most fish and marine life in general stick to the shallower coastal regions. Bottom dwellers may exist in surprising quantity in oceans, but even now they are an untapped resiource.

    Also, I had the experience of a city starving from size 15 to 7 because some prick AI civ parked outdated ships off its coast. Took me 20+ turns to build a fleet of frigates and clean out my waters. Navy was VERY important in that game. Incidentally it was a terran map-type. On pangea maps navies really are just about useless, on island-maps they probably are key.

    Good post though, and i like most suggestions too.
  9. DrPep

    DrPep Chieftain

    Nov 5, 2005
    Funny, I do have pirates in my game. In my current game have also lost few ships to them too, tho I haven't seen them very frequently. hmm...

    I'd also like the sea route blocking ability. Or there could be some kind of "supply cost" if trade ships would have to use longer route, when there is enemy ships blocking the way... Haven't gave it a lot of thought, but hope it would be included in some patch or expansion.

    But what I would REALLY like to see, is somesort of submarine sneakattack ability! The kind of which was used in civ3 conquests pacific scenario (submarine could decide which unit to attack when attacking a stack). Now they are (imo) pretty useless as spies (which destroyers can see, huh, basically not invisble). But ability shouldn't be absolute, I mean, there should be possibilty fail and to face the big bad battleship that was protecting the transport you were trying to sink. Tho, with this ability, submarines should be weaker overall. Maybe if the sneakattack is successful sub should receive big attack bonuses (in real life, succeeded submissions have been really powerful), but when unsuccessful, sub should be really weak (at least against stronger naval units). Would give submarines new life.
  10. NP300

    NP300 Prince

    May 18, 2004
    North America
    Good idea.
  11. brokguitar

    brokguitar Chieftain

    Aug 4, 2005
    Las Vegas, NV
    Great thread, i would like to add these suggestions.

    Galleys and Ironclads should be able to cross a sea tile if its final move lands them on a coast tile.

    Pirates are a fantastic idea, They could creep in from the FOW without having a home base.

    A military ship should automatically "blockade a harbor" if you are at war and your ship is 1 tile adjacent to enemy city.

    Caravels should carry 2 non-military units instead of one.
  12. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

    Nov 9, 2005
    The one thing I would like to see added is ships being able to block naval trade routes in or out of a city. Having a ship next to a city should negate all benefits from the Harbor improvement (the +50% trade, +1 health for seafoods), and the game should treat squares adjacent to a ship as land for the trade-route pathing calculation it performs to check if the city is connected to your capital. These two things would give a significant impact to blockading enemy cities through food, commerce, and resources.

    I look at the pre-modern naval units not as a single vessel (or two), but as a whole fleet of vessels. Sure you may have 8 Frigate units, but in the scope of the game that's hundreds of ships, and if they defeat 8 enemy frigates and galleons it's like the British vs Spanish armada (which I've had frequently on Archipelago maps). Think of it like normal units: you may have 6 pictorial swordsmen defending a city, but in actuality that's hundreds or thousands of soldiers.

    Naval units also prevent cities from working the water tiles adjacent to the ship, which can have a crippling effect on cities depending on those for food. I've had an island city drop to a 23-food deficit after a civ declared war on me and moved in a few ships nearby.

    Ships also pillage vital water improvements, which can be a big blow to your empire if they're resources necessary to keep your cities just over the health or happiness lines. Just protecting my water assets leads to a decent navy size in most of the games I play.

    Plus, in late game, airplanes on carriers can wipe out your land-based resources as well, requiring you to either blanket your empire with fighter coverage, field lots of SAM infantry, or deal with the threat directly. All three work, but the best defense is a good offense, and if you kill their ships with your own, you can retaliate against them. Even if the war only lasts twenty turns, destroying all their strategic resources with carriers and fighters cripples them until they can rebuild those improvements. Assaulting the enemy's resources right when a war starts is a great way to tilt things in your favor.

    I think the importance of a navy largely depends on how coastal your empire is and the difficulty of the game. On a Monarch-difficulty Continents game I played early on, I was fighting an enemy on one continent when another Civ declared war on me and moved in twenty or thirty battleships and destroyers, and two or three figher-laden carriers. They bombed my oil and aluminum resources right away, crippling me until I could rebase enough fighters and workers to the area to try and keep the wells up. Plus, they pummelled my coastal city defenses, rendering them vulnerable to the gunship-laden transports a few turns behind. (Gunships are nasty for first strike from the sea, by the way; they ignore the movement penalty for landing on shore :crazyeye:)

    All in all, if my empire is heavily coastal I prevent that by having at least a few ships near my resources at all times, and keeping several Frigates or Battleships around later in the game. Otherwise, you just leave yourself too vulnerable to resource destruction and naval bombardment.
  13. spa

    spa Warlord

    Oct 21, 2005
    Having a real blockade potential would help a lot in making navies more important. I personally like the idea of having a trading system similar to the one used in Galactic Civilizations. In that game, you sent out a freighter to a friendly planet and established a trade route. After doing so, a little automated trade ship would continually cruise between the two planets generating money based on distance and the population of both the origin planet and the destination. If the ship was attacked a new one would spawn back at the planet of origin and set out the following turn. If you couldn't defend the route and too many loses were inflicted, the trade route would fail and you would cease to get any money from it. Such a system could work in Civ and the micromanagement would be minimal because 99% of the trade operation would be automatic.

    I think it would also be nice to be able to bombard units in coastal cities or on shorelines. That would give another incentive to use naval units.

    All that said, navies aren't a waste in Civ. I find that there isn't a game that goes by where I don't build them. Sometimes they get used sometimes they don't. Sometimes I spend the money and end up with just a show fleet. A lot depends on what type of map you're playing. If you're playing Pangaea than a navy isn't going to be much use. In continents they can be important and in islands they can be downright crucial.

    In my current island game I have actually found the navy to be really useful. The Arabs attacked me even though they are technologically my inferior. So I decided to crush them. I sailed over to their continent, took away all their coastal resources and then bombed all their coastal cities (they only had two inland) down to 0 defense. Then I parked my ships so that they couldn't work any coastal squares and watched their cities starve. The Arabs were located on not the best land (tundra and some desert) so they were feeding several of their cities from the sea. At least five of their cities had real catastrophic population decline (size 10ish to size 1-3). That had to hurt. The best part was that when the invasion force arrived, their cities not only had no defense, but they also had few residents left to go into resistence. I was also able to conquer them quicker than normal because I moved my invasion force around by ship. So I would land and attack and then instead of wasting several turns crossing rough terrain with no movement bonuses, I just went by sea to the next target. This helped my own economy as I didn't have to spend as much time facing war weariness on the home front. Having naval superiority was great. Really helped make the Arab war a quick, decisive and less costly one.
  14. VoxDei

    VoxDei Chieftain

    Aug 27, 2004
    I hated the CTP trade system. It was ridiculously easy to disrupt trade routes and more or less impossible to defend them. That said, the idea of using your navy to embargo another country's strategic supplies is a nice one, just difficult to implement. I guess what you want is to have enough ships to have one or more by every enemy port - even one unguarded means the resources can flow in. It'd be nice to have some way of blocking routes at sea as well, but that's tricker.

    Basically, sea trade routes should be blocked by having an enemy vessel in the city's radius (although if the route can be re-routed via roads and a different port then it's not blocked), and land trade routes should be blocked by enemy territory or an enemy unit on the connecting road. Blocking land trade routes this way would more or less guarantee that long trade routes would be continued by sea during wartime, since the enemy's just got to sit units on a road or two somewhere. At the same time, if you're blockading someone and preventing them trading with someone else, the someone else should be getting angry as well - you're blocking their trade too.
  15. Aramda Master

    Aramda Master Trying to kill the AI!

    Feb 12, 2005
    Umm... this game has more focus on navy. Think about those Worker boats.
  16. Octomon

    Octomon Chieftain

    Oct 28, 2005
    Me too. It only happened once though, luckly I was in the process of building my first ship so I sank it a few turns later. Maybe there's a value that can be increased?
  17. MaXXXXXuM

    MaXXXXXuM Chieftain

    Nov 5, 2001
    All such awesome ideas for Naval units. Makes me wonder why the people who made the game didnt decide to at least jazz up Naval units, at least a tad bit...I find the naval units in the new game just as bland as Civ 3. This mixed with the fact that they got rid of the cruise missle also just really detaches me from getting in the mindset of the modern war.
  18. Schlomoe99

    Schlomoe99 Trench Raider

    Mar 7, 2005
    Pensacola, FL
    This is the solution I was hoping for in Civ4. It would have given you a reason to use your Navy strategically, such as sailing a good distance form shore to find those fat merchants carrying gold. There are many justifications for this system, as the shortages of goods due to guerre de course on the high seas have been significant. The Quasi-War between France, England and the US in the early C.19th is an exellent example, as well as the submarine campaigns of both WW1 and WW2. Britain and Japan were pracically brought to their knees by this sort of fighting, and most of the ships were not lost as a result of a close blockade, as Civ4 simulates, but of high seas action.

    I think the game has plenty of potential for fleshing out the uses of ships, and Firaxis/Take2 would do well to include these ideas in a future expansion if the modders don't get to it first! :D
  19. BaneBlade

    BaneBlade Prince

    Nov 19, 2005
    Great thread, many good suggestions here, in fact i came up with some similar thoughts and i'm currently trying to realize some of them:

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