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Hi guys,

I'm wondering what reliable ways of conducting naval battles have been uncovered so far. I've watched some youtube videos but couldn''t find content that would make sense - most of the people spin in circles (against the wind as well), bump into their own ships, fire at sails all the time taking more losses in one battle than should be taken in 3.

After sinking 70 hours in US campaign I noticed couple of things:

1. Always stay on the side of wind that increases your range and decreases enemy range - if your and enemy ships are of similar rate you can fire more shots on the enemy and eliminate them one by one

2. Sailing  in the same direction and shooting side by side does not make sense as losses are too big

3. Sailing two ships on the sides of the enemy does not make sense as one enemy ship does twice damage

4. If ship rate is to big only option seems to be grapeshot until you can board them

5. Firing at sails make sense when you need to escape

6. If you want to outmaneuver enemy you need to fire couple of shots at the rudder and not the sails. After that you can pretty easily sail around and keep firing at the back or front of the ship (I guess this is most damage effective)

7. I'm experimenting with chasing last ship in enemy line. As enemy is very likely to chase one of your ships with its whole line it is possible to put fast ship at the end of his line and zig-zag while putting shot in his back

8. I guess it might be effective to put bunch of carronades on your ship and fight in very close distance. I had one mission where we spent most of the time within 100m and ship I equipped with carronades decimated every ship that was in the cone - haven't repeated it later as drop in penetration for carronades discourages me to stay on it.

9. One thing that bothers me is that AI keeps chasing you with whole line. Most of AI ships don't fire a shot during the battle while you pick them one by one. Is it the same on all difficulties?

How do you guys fight naval battles? Any comments to my observations?

 

 

 

Edited by piotreh1
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I've developed very simple tactics that worked for me the whole way through both British and American campaigns. Though it requires very specific ships, I always prefer large frigates with sufficient amount of health and ships of the line. In the case of frigates I put the heaviest carronades I possibly can fit on the vessel on the bottom gun deck and then congreve's on the top gun deck (that would be the perfect situation), sometimes when I don't have enough congreve's I use woolwich guns or similar but cheaper guns like Armstrongs, just some medium-sized firepower with as much penetration on 500 yards as possible. 

As for the ships of the line, I put the heaviest cannons on the bottom gun deck, the best option naturally would be the French re-bored 42/32 pounders. Then the heaviest carronades on the middle gun deck and some light(-ish) guns, preferably Desagulier's or light carronades if I can't fit anything else. 

With additional ship upgrades like 20% lighter guns and 30% additional speed from the sails it usually fits well with extra crew over the optimal and my frigates and ships of the line still can sail with 10 knots. 

The way I use them is simple: Bring more guns to the table than your enemy. And I mean that in a very small scale: Scale of single ships. I usually try my best to always bring two ships to enemy's one. AI is very unwilling to break up lines so usually I get my way and I can pound enemy ships with two of my own, one on either side of the enemy. I then usually use manual aim to direct their fire as low on enemy ships as possible, I usually place the marker right on the waterline. Thanks to that my ships don't hit each other, the top deck guns hit the enemy ship at all, and I can sink them quickly because (maybe it's only placebo) I noticed that it's much easier to flood enemy ships with that targeting. 

Edited by Galis
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1. Not always true. There are situations in which it is beneficial to give up that advantage. Not to mention that if the enemy has cannons of a larger caliber he might still be able to hit you. Sometimes i give it up because i either need to protect a transport, need to capture a transport or i want another enemy ship between me and a much larger enemy ship like a 3rd rate SOL.

2. Only if you come close enough to enter musket range. And if the enemy ship is a SOL and you have only a 5th or 6th rate. Otherwise i use manual aim to land my hits as close to the waterline as possible. And i try to aim at the middle. Either the ship heels and sinks (it looks like it just falls over to one side) or the magazine blows up. The damage to my own ship will be minimal. Or i use this opportunity to take down a mast or two.

3. I do this when i want to capture a ship without boarding. Blast it from both sides with broadside after broadside in order to decrease morale to a point where the ship simply surrenders. Works even better if you use manual aim. Why? One of your ships goes for a mast, the other blows holes in the hull. If a mast goes down the enemy will lose lots of morale due to rigging shock and the more holes you blow in the hull the higher the chance for an artillery or crew shock which also decreases morale by a lot. The enemy will surrender much faster that way and you will actually take less damage.

4. Wrong. See what i wrote under 3. Adding to that, if the enemy ship is a SOL and you only have 5th rates, use chainshot first to slow the enemy down. Then box him in with 3 or 4 ships and open fire from bow, stern and both sides. The ship has nowhere to go, gets hit constantly and morale will plummet and the ship will surrender. I have stopped boarding SOL with my 5th rates because of this. Saves me a lot of money on crew replacements. You can put 6th rates in front of the bow and stern but i would recommend 5th rates for the side.

5. And when you want to capture a ship. 

6. The rudder mostly breaks after a broadside to the stern or if you use manual aim to hit the quarterdeck of the ship. And getting behind the stern of a ship is much easier when it is slowed down significantly. So chainshot first (or round shot to take down a mast) then a broadside to the stern. But at this point you can just do what i wrote under 4.

7. I prefer doing this to the frist ship in the line of battle while using chainshot. Why? If i go after the last ship in the line of battle i only take down one ship. If i slow down the first ship in the line of battle i slow down the entire line of battle. I actually did this in the Treasure Fleet mission in the british campaign. You only get this mission if you capture the Arrogante in the Fireworks mission. You have to capture at least one of two transports which are guarded by 2 Dedaigneuse class frigates and 3 Ardent class SOL. The frigates will break up their line of battle, the SOL won't. So i put a fast ship in front of that line, have them chase it und zig zag around so i can put 2 or 3 broadsides with chainshot into the lead ship. That way i slow down all 3 SOL instead of just one.

8. Carronades can be good but i think Congreves are just better. You can unlock the Congreves in the british campaign in the second part of the techtree and in the US campaign you have to unlock Industry 3 in the last part of the techtree.

9. Not quite there yet on my normal difficulty playthrough but my guess is yes. Which actually makes no sense, especially in the Treasure Fleet mission. Yes, the frigates should go after the enemy directly but the SOL should stay with the transports. At least one SOL should stay with the transports and chasing down enemy ships in a line of battle is very stupid.

 

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1 - No. Usually being upwind is a big bonus. You control the distance of the engagement (enemy can't come upwind for you), you control the moment you want to move in for a boarding (it's really hard to close in with an enemy upwind from you). Add to that that if you're downwind the wind lists your ship away from the enemy, and you're showing a lot more lower hull to the enemy, which if impacted will cause serious flooding once the list recedes. Not sure if this last one is implemented in the game, though.
Being downwind has a place - when you're trying to run away from the enemy. Other than that, there's little good in being there.

2 - Depends. If your ships are heavier than the enemy and have stronger guns, it's not a bad thing to do. If not...yeah, well, then it's not a good idea.

3- you're also dealing double damage to him, just more spread. Depends on the scenario you want to put as much focused lead on an enemy ship as you can so going both sides is very inneficient. But there are scenarios where that's not the case, you just want to weaken him enough for a later boarding. Another scenario is an actual boarding, you can do a 2vs1 boarding by going down both the enemy's sides and hook him with both ships simultaneously. And yes, those boardings are VERY nasty for the target ship.

4- No. Just no. If ship rate is superior to your ships first you have to ensure you engage him in a several vs 1 scenario. Then look for his rear like mad and rake the hell out of him as many times as you can. With round shot. Good round shot rakes from a 5th rate can perfectly delete 20-30 sailors from a 3rd rate in a single go. Takes skill and a bit of luck, but after repeated rakes the ship will be ripe for a boarding. Grape is only useful if you're stuck on his side and can't get to the rear.

5- Pretty much. Sail damage is for me a side effect, I never go for it intentionally. If you want to kill the enemy's ability to move, go for his masts. You'll need big enough guns firing round shot and manually target them masts tho. Usually the best one to kill a target's ability to turn is the foremast. If what you want is to slow him down, go for the mainmast. Losing the mizzen hurts speed a bit but is not as big of a deal as losing either of the other two.

6- Rudder damage is 99% of the times the result of a rake. If you're raking the enemy focus on keeping the position so you can keep on doing so. Rudder damage is a side effect. To kill a ship's ability to turn well the best bet is to bring down his foremast, as already said. Turning (specially against the wind) relies a lot on foremast yard movement...lose that mast, lose those yards, the ability to maneouver is seriously impaired.

7- Relying on AI-priorities to gain in-battle advantages can be useful - but is also very risky and adds another layer of complexity to an already complex matter. On top of your own ship sailing, maneouvering, targetting, etc, you'll need to keep awareness of placing ships in the proper spots for the AI to "hook" on a given one, which in most scenarios means putting ships in tactically not that sound positions. Too much of a bother, and too little a return. Better to use proper positioning and maneouver and ignore AI targetting priorities altogether.

8- Carronades are tremendously situational because they're just not flexible enough. If you're not directly on top of the enemy they don't do much. I personally load them on the upper deck of the razees, and on maybe one 5th class I design as a "bulwark" to just go in and smash face close in. But other than that specialist role, I don't use them at all. Range is too much valuable to give up - there's nothing more frustrating than seeing an enemy rate giving you his ass all the time, but you can't capitalize on that because your guns lack the range.

9- Haven't noticed that myself. Then again I move a lot my ships and switch targets a lot as I maneouver, so I'm too busy doing my own stuff as to notice what the AI is doing. But I've never had any special feeling that they tended to "hook up" on a target in particular - except for scenarios where it made sense. So I can't really tell.


FInally, I'm seriously slacking on it but I'll eventually make a let's play of this game. Contrary to (I think) most of the population of this game, I don't like land battles of the musket era. I find them boring, repetitive and uninteresting (none of that is fault of the game), but I love the naval part and, well, ships being one of my passions I know what I'm doing. I do explain all I do when I do it, so I guess that might help...

Really I should shake off the lazyness and get it done lol.

Edited by RAMJB
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Restarted the campaing on normal mode now. I can definitely state that AI is smarter and I found myself outmaneuvered couple of times  and chasing enemy outside of my range while being shot at the turns.

Haven't been thinking that with wind blowing at one side of your ship also exposes bottom of it but at the same time you are still beyond enemy range anyway so I guess it is still valid approach.

I have captured SOL quite early and agree now that grapeshot is wrong approach. Surrounding as much possible and firing with 2-4 ships at once is the way to go - with that in mind I struggle a bit to find use for grapeshot aside of weakening transports before boarding.

I have been also targeting rudder more and more. New observation I noticed is that crew will fix it fairly quick anyway which poses a question again if masts/sails are better to demobilize as damage is permanent there.

Regarding Land Battles: after playing UGCW maybe my skill makes it boring. I pretty much deploy 3 per ship units of infantry/marines with all ship slots filled. Only challenge is to get as close to 20:1 casualties ratio to save money instead of 6:1. I wipe out enemy all the time and sometimes even have to wait until timer ends. Maybe on hard mode its different or something, but it's just a filler for me in US campaign at this point with no challenge nor depth.

EDIT:

Maybe unit limit for land battles is too large now as I am yet to have a battle where I cannot surround enemy after initial skirmish.

Regarding upgrades: in my first play through I went for lighter guns, faster sails. Now I am wondering if there is diminishing return for it and consider investing in some ships into faster turn/acceleration instead - would be happy to hear some suggestions on value of each upgrade (probably per ship class as it seems to be key factor)

 

Edited by piotreh1
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I haven’t found grapeshot to be very useful. I like double shot in situations where I might otherwise use grapeshot, and raking the stern is the best 

I generally target the foremast manually. I don’t use chain shot much, preferring to target mast, but I could see using chain if your guns are too small for mast. In Total War: Empire, I focused on chain because it had a longer range than round (in addition to damaging sails to allow you to control engagement.) In UA:AoS, chain has a shorter ranger than round shot, which could be more realistic, but makes it less useful.  
 

The idea of targeting the waterline is interesting. 
 

I have used the Congreves and the EIC line a lot, with occasional Woolwich guns for range. I think a lot of the battle is 500 yards or closer, so I have wanted guns that had high damage and decent penetration out to 500 yards. Most of cannonades seemed to have too little penetration (except for ultra short range). 
 

it has been interesting that a cannon’s utility doesn’t seem that tied to price. Certainly, the bigger guns are more expensive, but within each size the price doesn’t seem determinative. Eg, the J&H guns are expensive, but have little penetration. 
 

In addition to providing more damage for their size, I like how the Congreves and the EIC cannons reload quicker - due to shorter barrels. Quicker reloading is valuable for getting more focused lead on target. 

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I used grapeshot pretty much only when I was sure I want to capture and use the ship later on - it saves money on repair (especially for SOL).

In terms of guns I found 9 PDR Desaguliers are very good early to mid game and getting rid of Armstrong guns should  be prioritized. Then I used Congreve (all caliber), Long Borgards (all caliber), French rebored. All other guns seem to be unattractive in general either because of penetration or range. Cannot say I tested all guns, but it seems penetration is absolutely key and above mentioned guns not only have highest penetration it also falls slowly across range.

Looking forward to tests of others to find all the intricacies as without it all the choice is just pain to scroll the list :)

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From the above comments, going to have to try round shot raking more, I've been using grape shot. Have my hands full enough yet keeping track of where and how all my ships are to do targeted shots to kill masts. Up to now, just finished Valcour Island on American after full as it is available British, mostly focus on boarding and taking ships instead of sinking, the prestige currency is just too valuable to pass up.

Guns: heavily use Desagulier's guns for the range and penetration, living with the longer reload, smaller damage - they are like the "tube powder" for UA:Age of Sail. In American campaign seems lot more straight forward step wise to get access to more types of guns, so have determined I like the longer range EIC carronades, and Woolich for damage/rate of fire earlier. More below on outfitting the USS Congress. Also, in American campaign, the Desagulier's really help being able to stand off and avoid damage/inflict damage when you're out-gunned a lot. In Challenge they made my ships, with other improvements, very fast, which certainly helped one my frigates out run a SOL and escape, even with a lot of sail damage.

Upgrades: concluded my priorities on upgrades as follows: gun carriages-sail speed if possible together, hull structure, gun reload speed. Crew improvement priorities are stamina first, then the hand-to-hand, then if I can get it, the Sea Wolves (improvement to left). For transports get the sail speed second. the crew hand-to-hand avoids me needing to burn technology spending and ship slots on the boarding kit. The higher you go with sail speed the less weight there is to the improvements, gun carriages help that out further so you can both load up more crew for less speed loss and take more sail damage for less loss in absolute speed.

With 5th rates I'll go with hull3 and live with the speed/crew cap loss they can live longer going in close to take on SOL's. With 3rd rate I'll go with hull2 for better speed/less crew cap loss, since their base protection is formidable anyway. gun reload speed 3 offsets lag on using 32pdr French re-bored, 12pdr Borgard Long as my 2 primary deck choices on the 3rd rate I captured in Challenge - the HMS Kennington, then 12pdr EIC carronades for the top deck, for close-in. Think I should be able to get pretty good speed this way, get good, relatively high rate, long-range, very damaging fire. If I stay at long range and hurt, then also helps protect my unbuffed sails/masts. Going in to board and capture should then be against a much weakened foe, or just use the 3rd Rate to soften up ships for others.

Couple things I like to do is rake from the front travelling in the direction of the wind, and then turn toward green and run with it, rinse and repeat - if you can do a compromised version of that with two ships at the same time you make the enemy like he's sailing head first into a wood chipper. Another is "breaking the line": sailing right between two enemy ships raking one across front, one across rear. Have done this with several ships, but you have to sail straight through far enough before turning to avoid bad damage. 

Since I mostly try to take ships and get them off the board as prizes - usually am trying to knock the crew down and not take down masts. Only try to shoot sails if its a big boy SOL. 

In Valcour Island did notice the "dumb column" effect - the 280 man British, presumably 5th rates, provided no help at all, and at the end seem to mill around in "what do we do now" mode at the exit area. In that one used 3 of my Porcupine corvettes with sailspeed3, carriages3, 12pdr Woolich, 12pdr EIC Carronades to shred the British initial small ships - Woolich because the range was pretty short on the lake. Sailed, weaving back and forth with the wind, so at least two of my 3 could be firing both sides and hurting multiple ships at a time. The Porcupines can be quite lethal and useful - as configured above they're damned fast - I've found - much preferred over Cereberus class - better gun arrangement, faster. 

 

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other than reducing cannon carriage weight, I haven’t used too many of the ship upgrades yet. 
 

Knocking down all the masts seems to help accelerate surrender. It can help minimize the damage to the ship I want to capture, and reduce their morale if I need to board. 

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SKG2

Quite surprised to read you prefer Porcupines over Cerberus. Porcupine has 2 more guns I guess but at the prize of ~50 men on board which I found on example of valcour very bad to defend from boarding. Also out of 30 guns some are on upper deck which can only mount very weak guns. Cerberus can take 28 Desaugliers which I think is best gun for this rate of ship.

Haven't used Woolich gun at all. How does it perform in comparison to Desaugliers, Long Borgards and Congreves? 

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piotreh1:

I used to not like Porcupines, but then I realized how slow the Cerberus's were, especially when filled up. I like the flexiblility of having the two decks - heavies on the lower, and Carronades up top. Also, found that they can put less burden on your Armory - spreads out the distribution of guns. Your all in and sometimes too heavy or not enough guns with Cerberus's. Too avoid boarding problem on VI I had them already very fast, but loaded them up to max of 210 men, and avoided tangling with the 280 man ships. BTW playing on normal difficulty.

Woolich - lighter weight for same shot weight, without too heavy a penalty on range, pen at range compared to some - the 12pdrs are same 9 weight as 9pdr Desaguliers, but do 10 rather than 7 damage, about the same reload time. Woolich are pretty good price at 12, 18 pdr level - very expensive for the 24 pdrs though. I have not used Congreves yet. 

After another couple battles have decided to go with sailing 2nd level skill for Hermione class frigates instead of hth/boarding - +%25 speed for move and turning opens up using 18 pdr Woolich and maximized crew while maintaining good speed. Then take the 3rd skill up grade in +10% in boarding, melee, and gunnery - the x'd pistols one to the left. 

Just curious if anyone else feels like its quite an effort to get that 3rd level? 2nd level is not hard at all to get to, even swapping crew in/out of reserve. Maybe not enough of my crew are surviving. For career points I've spent mid-way through first on first aid wounded which in a way is like training, now I'm boosting training up. 

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Agree that Cerberus is slow. After first run on easy I put less focus on speed and relied more on having good guns and experienced crew in current run on normal. Need to try woolrich in next playthrough. 

I always go for 25% speed for second perk. No idea how to get 3rd perk to be honest. I still cannot get it despite taking minimal losses on the crew most of the time (maybe 5% of all crew lost during battle). I have 25% recovery of lost crew and 25% faster training - still don't have even one 3 star crew. My approach throughout whole campaign was to move most experience crew to best ship if got such and restore losses with veterans. In general, interface for crew stats lost a lot of visibility in comparison to UG:CW due to bonus/malus from officers.  Also same button for adding reserves and veterans is just confusing - I have a feeling it is not straightforward mechanism. 

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piotreh1:

I'm with you now on the 25% speed move/turning 100% - its the one way to get extra speed and a great turning bonus without burning the improvement slot. Good officers and sword bayonet weapons can get the gunnery+boarding of the hth 2nd level. Well I feel better now knowing I'm not alone on getting 3rd level. Probably going to sell my hth Hermione, so I can get another to get the sailing speed, go hull2-sailspeed3-carriages3, mount Woolich 18pdr-12pdr EIC Carronade combo and crew up to 285 max for boarding, still have good speed. 

Ship classes - favorites are the Endymion and Leda - especially the later with 4 improvement slots - put 12pdr Bogard Longs-18pdr EIC Carronade combo on that and named it the USS Saratoga (to join the USS Lexington Endymion) - it will be the USS Des Moines CA for the Age of Sail. Endymions are so damned fast even with hull3 and fully loaded up - probably because of my notch down in gun weights. My fleet names are going to be like the US World War 2 Carrier fleet 🙂.

On Career points, came to think go first aid on crew first - if you keep more guys, its in effect like training speed through battle, then go to training speed itself. 

In prep for Martinque have put some Congreves on - one ship has these on bottom, and 6pdr Desagulier's on top. 

All prepped now for Martinique, just need to do a final check before playing it - want to take Intrepid and its escorts - but also see if I can pick off and capture another big boy up the line from the rear. 

A comment on your earlier to consider on whether to take ships in the rear of the column or front - what's the wind? If the wind is going in the direction of the enemy column, take and cut out an enemy ship from the rear of the column, then you can break it free and tack it away from being retaken and shield it with your own ships. Challenge is a really good scenario to practice capture and shielding captured ships. I had to play it a number of times, but finally took all 3 frigates, both transports, and one of the SOL's, for heavy damage, crew loss, but no ship loss on my side. 

One of the things I really like about this game, reminding me of the personal management in Medieval Total War 2 (still such a good game - especially the Middle Earth mods), is the officer development - had to hire every available officer to lead the 9 ships I'm taking in, had to spread them out and compromise on assignments - but that's officer development. If I play this campaign again, won't be dismissing many officers no matter how poor they are, so I can develop them when I need to. 

 

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I'm now playing the US campaign to where I've got 5 3rd SOLs.

My main tactics is:

1. Lure the enemy with my best armored ship, with sails down and shooting each other side by side on mid range;

2. Other ships go to back of the enemy line and wreck the hell of their last ship in line at it's back.

3. Repeat until there's only one left.

This tactics worked as the AI now is quite stupid, the whole line of ship will stop as the first ship of line stops and entering the duel with you. 

The last ship in line will get off the line when it wavers, just gang on it till it surrender or sink.

My other tactics when the enemy ship is too powerful:

1. Cross T with your faster ships and destroy the frontal enemy ship's sail using chain shots;

2. The whole enemy line will run at slower speed;

3. Other ships trail the last ship of the enemy line and turn to port/turn to starboard and back, hit its stern till it waver;

4. gang on it till it surrender/sunk.

5. repeat 3.

Edited by lunario
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49 minutes ago, lunario said:

I'm now playing the US campaign to where I've got 5 3rd SOLs.

My main tactics is:

1. Lure the enemy with my best armored ship, with sails down and shooting each other side by side on mid range;

2. Other ships go to back of the enemy line and wreck the hell of their last ship in line at it's back.

3. Repeat until there's only one left.

This tactics worked as the AI now is quite stupid, the whole line of ship will stop as the first ship of line stops and entering the duel with you. 

The last ship in line will get off the line when it wavers, just gang on it till it surrender or sink.

My other tactics when the enemy ship is too powerful:

1. Cross T with your faster ships and destroy the frontal enemy ship's sail using chain shots;

2. The whole enemy line will run at slower speed;

3. Other ships trail the last ship of the enemy line and turn to port/turn to starboard and back, hit its stern till it waver;

4. gang on it till it surrender/sunk.

5. repeat 3.

@sterner

It would be cool to have the ai made more clever, concerning the above mentioned cases - at least at normal or hard difficulty!

PS: Thank you for the great work so far though - the game is very promising and even now fun to play!

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6 hours ago, Navalus Magnus said:

It would be cool to have the ai made more clever, concerning the above mentioned cases - at least at normal or hard difficulty!

PS: Thank you for the great work so far though - the game is very promising and even now fun to play!

Yes IMO both the enemy AI and friendly AI need to be smarter.

Especially the friendly AI.

Just finished the independent war of the US.

In later battles there're too many ships. If I let ships controlled by AI there'll be chaos and many of my ships get hit on the stern and sometimes just running around can't hit anything.

While when I control everything it's just too many ships, especially in the mid-late stage of the battle as both party's line breaks.

You anchored and AI anchored you leave your ship there and attend other things for couple of minutes, switch back and find the AI sail infront/back of you and free shooting.

Can't leave anything unchecked and had to play on normal/half speed for almost 2 hours to win the last battle.

It's fun to beat the game once but I probably won't do it again especially the later battles.

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1 hour ago, lunario said:

Yes IMO both the enemy AI and friendly AI need to be smarter.

Especially the friendly AI.

Just finished the independent war of the US.

In later battles there're too many ships. If I let ships controlled by AI there'll be chaos and many of my ships get hit on the stern and sometimes just running around can't hit anything.

While when I control everything it's just too many ships, especially in the mid-late stage of the battle as both party's line breaks.

You anchored and AI anchored you leave your ship there and attend other things for couple of minutes, switch back and find the AI sail infront/back of you and free shooting.

Can't leave anything unchecked and had to play on normal/half speed for almost 2 hours to win the last battle.

It's fun to beat the game once but I probably won't do it again especially the later battles.

Yeah, without the pause key I would lose many battles I fear.

But I kind of enjoy it to be able to get an overview every now and than, and act accordingly.

It‘s like a mix of real time and round based strategy game this way.

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