A guide to naval warfare in March of the eagles looking at the basic mechanics, what ship and admiral stats mean, other affecting factors like ruler, ideas and war exhaustion and how to successfully invade overseas.
Anything marked by << >> is a reminder for myself on things to fill out.
The information in the guide comes partly from the game files and partly from ingame testing. Some things may include speculation where information isn’t readily available and tests haven’t proven a definite answer.
If you have any questions or wish to give feedback please leave a comment.
Left click to select
Right click to move
Units have to be in the same province to merge
A fleet will travel 1 tile per day regardless of ship speed.
- Admiral – Left click while in port to set a new admiral, mouse over to see the admiral skills and a list of traits and the combined effect of those traits
- Fleet Morale – Mouse over to see the numerical values of current and max morale as well as modifiers affecting max morale
- Create new fleet – Allows you to split a fleet into 2
- Intercept – Tells your fleet to automatically move to a neighbouring province if an enemy fleet is present
- Reinforcement Allowed – Leave this on
- Land units only
- Land units only
- Land units only
- Land units only
- Avoid Combat – Tells the fleet to try to avoid battle, rarely succeeds unless you have another fleet present
- Land units only
- Disband – Delete all units in the fleet, only use as a last resort to reduce maintenance
- Attrition – Ships too far from land will take a small amount of attrition damage
- Fleet size – mouse over for breakdown by ship size and max positioning
- Ship Health – Represented as both a percentage and orange bar
- Ship Morale – Mouse over for numerical values and modifiers to max morale
- Experience – Mouse over for actual experience value and Defence bonus
- Load Capacity – Each transport ship adds 5 load capacity
When sorting your fleets don’t put transports in a warfleet, more on this later under morale but ships in March of the eagles don’t cover for transports.
If you look through the Steam and Paradox forums you’ll come across numerous threads about how overpowered the British Royal Navy is and that its impossible to make a dent in them so hopefully this will help people understand areas where they might be going wrong or worst case offer a means to end British Naval dominance for victory without even needing a navy.
How does naval combat work?
Naval combat consists of 2 phases. The bombard phase and the combat phase (boarding and close range firing)
The bombard phase will usually be a matter of hours while the combat phase can last over a day.
The battle ends when 1 fleet is reduced to 10% morale or runs out of ships.
Units will be delayed by their initiative at the start of each phase so a lower initiative means you get free attacks before the enemy starts to fight.
Units will choose targets randomly but when their target is out of morale they have an increased chance to pick a different target, a ship can only be targeted by 4 enemies at a time so if 1 fleet outnumbers the other by more than 4:1 some of the ships will be unable to engage unless ships are lost.
The effectiveness of your attacks will depend on a combination of your ship’s attack values, the target’s defence value, positioning, admiral skill and a bonus roll.
Your ships can be further enhanced by ideas, traits, experience and government type.
After combat ships reduced to 0 health have a chance to be captured otherwise will be sunk. Captured ships need to be returned to a port for repairs immediately as they will be a liability in combat and if sent too far unaided can be lost at sea due to attrition damage.
I’m starting with this not because its the most important part of naval combat but probably the most overlooked. In Napoleonic times ships coordinated using flag signals and by sending smaller ships to deliver messages.
Unfavourable weather and loss or interruption to communication could cause a fleet to become uncoordinated and less effective, the more ships in a fleet and they larger they are the more difficult it becomes keeping the fleet coherent in battle.
In March of the Eagles this is represented as a percentage.
A fleet starts with 100% maximum positioning, this is reduced by the fleets combined frontage.
A Second Rate Ship of the Line has a frontage of 1 so a fleet with 5 second rate ships of the line has a maximum positioning of 95%. (100 – 5)
In the case of a fraction the max positioning is always rounded down to the nearest whole number so if you have 11 transports which have a frontage of 0.1 each that gives a maximum positioning of 98% (100 – 1.1 = 98.9 which gets rounded down to 98)
During battle both fleets will get periodic positioning rolls which give the current positioning during battle. Maintaining a semi-reliable positioning score requires a reasonable amount of max positioning and an admiral with a good manoeuvre stat.
You wont really need to worry about positioning until later in the game but if current positioning falls below 50% the effectiveness of the fleet will plummet.
This is ultimately where battles are won or lost. When the morale of the fleet drops to 10% the fleet will retreat to the nearest port. This means you can lose a battle but still come out with a favourable outcome if you manage to sink any enemy ships.
Ships will quickly lose morale as they take damage so having too many soft targets can cause an otherwise superior force to route.
This is where I will again stress an earlier comment. Do not mix transports into your warfleets.
Historically escorts would try to keep attackers away from non-combat vessels.
In March of the eagles all units engage equally.
Consider the following setup, a fleet of 14 transports mixed with 5 Ships of the line.
If the fleet is attacked the transports will do very little damage but will be reduced to 0 morale early in the battle.
This will usually bring the fleet morale down to around 50% before your Ships of the line are even damaged.
The battle Screen
- Bonus Roll – You gain 2.5% attack bonus multiplied by the bonus roll, re-rolls each day Mousing over will give the value
- Admiral Bonus/Malus – Red means I have an attack penalty (10% in the example battle) mousing over tells you the value
- Current Positioning – This will usually start at your maximum positioning value and drop through the battle depending on your fleet speed and admiral’s manoeuvre skill. Mousing over displays your max positioning
- Number of Transports
- Number of Galleys
- Number of Frigates
- Number of Ships of the Line – First Rate and Second Rate combined
- Morale – The green section is the current morale, The fleet will retreat when the bar is roughly under the S of positioning.
- Fleet Overview – Shows how healthy your ships are, mousing over a ship shows its morale.
- Current Phase of battle – A cannon represents bombard phase, a ship represents combat phase
If you ever get confused over which side displays which fleet look at the separator that runs through the battle phase icon.
Initiative – The number of turns before a a ship starts attacking
Bombard/Combat Attack – The ships potential damage output in the relevant phase
Bombard/Combat Defence – The ships ability to withstand damage in the relevant phase (I haven’t extensively tested it but it appears to be a % reduction)
Morale – When the combined morale of a fleet drops to 25% it loses the battle and retreats to the nearest port
Frontage – Reduces the max positioning of the fleet
Speed – Average fleet speed affects positioning rolls during combat and evasion rolls
Experience – A ship’s experience is a % defence increase ie a 10% experience frigate gets +4 defence (10% of 40)
The First Rate Ship of the Line is the cream of the crop when it comes to Naval warfare, with a 20% stat increase to combat stats over the second rate a fleet of these is a force to be reckoned with especially when lead by a competent admiral.
Beware late-game however that their frontage cost at 1.5 per ship can be crippling if you make the fleet too large.
While a second rate ship of the line is outclassed by a first rate ship of the line 1:1 they are cheaper to build, begin the main combat 1 turn earlier and cost only 2/3rds the frontage compared to a First Rate. If you have enough ports to accommodate the increased number of ships being built second rates are worth using as a mainstay naval unit.
Frigates have a 30% chance to evade attacks from Ships of the line and the highest speed of any ship, this means they give a small bonus to positioning rolls by raising the average speed of a fleet.
At a cost of 35 compared to a First Rate SOL being 200 they are cheap but only useful in small numbers within a war-fleet as they are completely outclassed in damage output per frontage.
Later on when you have enough SOL to go around Frigates will largely be demoted to blockading.
Galleys get a bonus to dice rolls in inland seas, Inland seas are the Mediterranean (east of Gibraltar) and the Baltic sea (East of Denmark) This amounts to around 10% attack bonus but is partially offset by a lower speed.
At 1/10 the cost of a first rate ship of the line galleys look cost effective for countries like Russia and the Ottomans however a ship can only be engaged by up to 4 enemies at a time. This makes them effective against frigates but against ships of the line it actually ends up with 4 galleys engaging per enemy ship and the rest just waiting for space to attack.
Add to that the vulnerability in the bombard phase, worse positioning roll (low speed and high frontage in relation to performance) and ideas that only benefit large ships.
You’ll ultimately find Galleys are only useful as a cheap blockading ship against nations you have naval dominance over.
Each transport can carry 5 brigades, this is displayed in the fleet panel as load capacity. Transports are vital to overseas invasion but be aware that land units suffer attrition while at sea and will use but not replenish supplies.
Once again never mix transports into a warfleet as it will both waste transports and reduce the combat effectiveness of the fleet. They will act as a morale sink, reduce the max positioning and in a large fleet can prevent your combat vessels from engaging the enemy.
When 2 fleets engage the attack stat of the attacking admiral is compared to the defence stat of the defending admiral.
A 5% bonus-malus is applied to the attack of all ships in both fleets for each point of difference.
So if Carel Hendrik Verhuel (3 attack) attacks John Jervis (6 defence)
Carel Hendrik Verhuel will get -15% attack (3 – 6 = -3 x 5% = -15%)
John Jervis will get +15% attack (6 – 3 = 3 x 5% = 15%)
A fleet with no admiral counts as having an admiral with 0 Manoeuvre, 0 Attack and 0 Defence
Sailor 2: Naval Speed +5%
Sailor 3: Naval Speed +10%
Naval Attack 1: Attack +10% Defence -5%
Naval Attack 2: Attack +10%
Naval Attack 3: Attack +15%
Naval Defence 1: Defence +10% Attack -5%
Naval Defence 2: Defence +10%
Naval Defence 3: Defence +15%
Naval Initiative 1: Initiative -1 Attack -5%
Naval Initiative 2: Initiative -1
Naval Initiative 3: Initiative -2
Naval Big Ship 1: SOL attack +10% Galley/Frigate attack -5%
Naval Big Ship 2: SOL attack +5% SOL defence +10%
Naval Big Ship 3: SOL attack +10% SOL defence +10% SOL initiative -1
Naval Light Ship 1 Frigate attack +10% SOL attack -5%
Naval Light Ship 2 Frigate attack +10% Frigate defence +10%
Naval Light Ship 3 Frigate attack +10% Frigate defence +10% Frigate Initiative -2
Naval Galley 1 Galley attack +10% SOL attack -5%
Naval Galley 2 Galley attack +10% Galley defence +10%
Naval Galley 3 Galley attack +10% Galley defence +10% Galley Initiative -2
Invading by sea
<<Military skill comparison>>
If you’ve read the rest of the guide you should know exactly what I’m going to say here. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen screenshots complaining about Britain’s navy being OP where the player had a fleet containing 10-20 transports alongside their ships of the line.
Always separate your transports into their own fleet and if you capture any split them into a new fleet so they can repair before sending them to combine with another transport fleet.
Generally speaking you wont need to worry much about positioning but in extreme cases it can cripple an otherwise powerful fleet. The closer your max positioning gets to 50% the more likely you are to fight with reduced effectiveness. Once your max positioning drops below 50% you might as well be giving your ships away.
As Britain you get a plentiful supply of skilled admirals to choose from so you can spread them around without worry.
As anybody else you have to make sure the best admirals are in the most suitable fleets.
Placing an admiral with high attack or defence in a transport fleet is a waste of a good military admiral.
Transports only benefit from manoeuvre and even then unless you have an abundance of admirals you are better using that admiral elsewhere.
Remember attack is used when you move to attack an enemy, defence is used when the enemy moves to attack you so have attack focused admirals hunting enemy fleets down and defensive admirals holding enemies in port.
Leaving a fleet active with too much damage is an obvious risk but it can be tempting at times to think “oh they’ll be fine a bit longer”. If a ship needs repairs send it to port, ships take a long time to build especially ships of the line so winning battles with needless losses can damage you more than your enemy.
If a ship is in good condition but lacks morale its usually worth sending them back to port as well to keep the fleet morale up.
When sending them for repairs use your best local port. You should be looking to get at least 3% repair per day.
An army without supplies performs poorly in combat, sending an army halfway across the map by sea or failing to bring enough supply units results in an army thats starving by the time they reach enemy shores.
Load into transports as close to the target as possible and bring supply units to help the army last while cut off from supply.
If you have friendly territory you can land to do that and resupply first.
Dealing with the Royal Navy: France
It all adds up to a situation that might look impossible to overcome.
France are the one nation that can even the situation fairly early. You only have 1 good Admiral and several okay choices but with with Napoleon Bonaparte’s 9 Military skill as ruler France produce the highest experience new recruits in the game.
This applies to both land units and ships.
The most important thing with France is patience and timing. If you want to build a navy to compete with Britain directly it will take some investment and ideally a few loans.
If you want to look at things longterm take French Ideas 1 and beeline French Ideas 5. French Ideas 3 gives +10 idea points per month which will mean a minimum 1 idea every 8 months (just over half the time it usually takes).
French Ideas 5 gives +20 experience to new recruits.
After this go to Artillery 4(-2 initiative) and if you still feel you need more naval firepower at this point Fire Ideas 4 gives +20% attack to Ships of the line.
Alternatively for the short term advantage you could start at Artillery 3 and beeline for Artillery 4: Naval Support (-2 initiative for big ships) This will give you 2 rounds of unanswered attacks in battle for a while.
Britain usually start by unlocking March to the guns so need to gather at least 800 idea points to negate your initiative advantage.
The first thing you want to build or upgrade are ports. Ports are required to build ships and with the lengthy build time you want to have an infrastructure capable of building ships in parallel.
The south and West of France are your primary recruitment areas for ships as the North shore will be closely watched by British Fleets making it difficult to consolidate ships into a fleet along the north Shore.
Each level of port gives:
Ship build time -10%
Ship cost -5%
Navy repair +1
Taking out loans helps get things going much faster.
You can become a match for Britain at sea without building any new ports in fact with a bit of luck on captures, traits and patrol timings and a lot of micro you can actually become a match without building a single ship even as high as hard difficulty but if you felt confidant in taking the most difficult route to naval dominance you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
Ships of the line are what you want to focus on, Second Rates will get you competing much faster. Don’t use rally points as individual ships heading to a rally point are vulnerable to British patrols.
Have your main fleet move from port to port absorbing new ships when you are clear to move it.
Napoleon as ruler has 9 military skill so thats +18% defence to all new ships
First combat: The Rochefort Method
First thing you’ll need to do is consolidate your military fleets into 1. You can either take all 3 into 1 fleet at Rochefort or take the 2 northern fleets to Rochefort and use the southern fleet to harass and distract separately.
So why Rochefort?
There are 3 things you need while in a disadvantageous position.
- A major port for fast repairs. Rochefort has that for 4% repair.
- A position passed by patrols of 6-10 ships. Patrols between Britain and the Mediterranean will pass Rochefort.
- A position far enough from Britain to minimise the risk of a large fleet intervening in time. If you don’t win a battle in time near Rochefort you will probably lose morale before reinforcements arrive allowing you to repair and try again.
The idea is simple:
Wait at Rochefort until a fleet of up to 10 ships passes and move out of port to engage. With any luck you will capture a ship or 2 and possibly grab a useful trait. Better yet a trait might go up to level 2 removing the lvl 1 penalty or you might capture one of their flagships that start with 20-30% experience.
Even if you are only sinking ships it will still slow the growth of the British fleet buying you more time to catch up, losing a battle with 0 losses while sinking a British ship is still as good as a victory for you and can sometimes give better results than an actual victory.
As your fleet grows you can start to stray further from Rochefort but remember to keep your ships repaired and keep an eye out for large fleets. If needs be, duck into a port to avoid a large fleet.
Dealing with the Royal Navy: The Gibraltar Method
Britain starts at 100% naval dominance for starting with 6 Coastal objectives. To remove the Naval dominance bonus you need to reduce Britain to 5 or less coastal objectives.
Britain’s Naval objectives are:
*Dublin (Britain) – Actually Ireland but I’m generalising by ingame territorial region.
The 6 marked with a * are owned by Britain at the start of the game.
Britain can only conquer Bruges and Antwerpen in a peace deal with France. Given the size of the French army this should be relatively safe as long as you don’t cripple France yourself.
Magusa is an easy conquest for Britain if they go to war with the Ottomans but they start friendly with them and are mostly focused on France, Spain, Portugal and Denmark so this again should be safe.
This means all you need to do to deny Britain the naval dominance bonus is to take Gibraltar.
There are 2 methods to doing this
Gibraltar is more difficult to siege than most forts due to it being a coastal fort.
A coastal fort with port access has a siege event timer of over 100 days and cannot be assaulted so you are going to need 2 things to take Gibraltar.
- An army ideally containing plenty of cannons.
- A ship to blockade the port- Even a lone transport will be enough
Spain have it easy as you start with land access to Gibraltar allowing you to end British naval dominance from very early in the game.
You can go for the long siege or the quick assault.
Bring an army to Gibraltar to clear out the defending army.
You will initially need to leave at least 32k troops on Gibraltar to start the siege but if the garrison attacks you can reduce the force to double the size of the remaining garrison.
Have a ship move to the straight of gibraltar, this will blockade the port.
Spread ships across nearby ports but keep a fleet containing at least 3 ships of the line nearby.
From now on its a simple game of cat and mouse. Anytime a British fleet nears move the ship at the straight of gilbraltar to Ceuta.
After the fleet passes move the ship back to the straight of Gibraltar to get the siege event timer ticking down again.
If a fleet stops to hold your ship at port use one of the other ships you’ve spread nearby to bait the fleet away.
Eventually the Fort will fall and Britain will drop to around 85% naval dominance losing their bonus.
The setup is the same as last time but you’ll want a larger force so you have access to reserves.
Cannons, guards, infantry, light infantry and supply wagons are the effective units.
Cannons are the best units against forts both for siege events and for the damage bonus in combat, guards and infantry screen the cannons in combat, light infantry can be used if you want to entrench and supply wagons will guarantee the well supplied bonus.
Start by holding a siege, you need 1 of 2 things to happen.
A breach event which will remove a large amount of the defenders bonus.
Or the garrison deciding to attack which will greatly reduce the number of defenders.
The more damage you deal to the fort and the less defenders that remain the easier the battle will be but the single biggest bonus you can have is a breach.
On Very Hard I’ve taken the fort as early as February 8th but consider March a more realistic goal with blockade interruptions.
What if I’m not Spain?
If you aren’t playing as Spain your best approach is to either get military access to Spain so you can use their territory for supply access or take Cadiz from Spain first so you have a port of your own to supply from.
Gibraltar is considered occupied Spanish territory having been captured in a previous war and for a peace cost of 10% warscore you can demand Britain gives Gibraltar back to Spain.
As France this will probably mean a long slog through Britain’s coalition allies building up the warscore until Britain accept your demands.
As anybody else it will mean carefully picking your battles to inflict maximum casualties to Britain while receiving as few as possible yourself. This will give both a larger warscore shift and inflict more war weariness on Britain.
If Britain has gained territory around Denmark, Netherlands, France or Spain it will be made easier by the fact you can capture their mainland territories for additional warscore.