I've been going through each nation and posting about their nation powers and unique unit bonuses, but I've run into a bit of a problem with the Dutch unique light ships.

The Dutch unique light ships are the Brig, Fluyt, and Clipper, which replace the Caravel, Corvette, and Sloop respectively, during the Medieval to Enlightenment Ages. From unitrules.xml, the units are identical except that the Dutch unique ships have flag y (which marks them as unique units), have +1 attack damage, +5 HP, +1 moves, and +1 armor. Nothing too particularly out of the ordinary.

However, in actual testing, Dutch ships are completely terrible. Put 3 Caravels up against a Carrack and the Caravels will win, but put 4 Brigs up against a Carrack and the Carrack will win handily. Put 3 Corvettes up against a Frigate and the Corvettes will easily win, but put 3 Fluyts up against a Frigate and the Frigate will still win. Similarly, put 3 Sloops up against a Man o' War and the Sloops will easily win, but put 3 Clippers up against a Man o' War and the Man o' War will easily win.

It seems like, for whatever reason, the Dutch light ships attack very slowly. Even though they're identical in attack rate (RECHARGE) to regular light ships in unitrules.xml, in practice the Brig's attack rate is about 1/3 of the Caravel's, the Fluyt's attack rate is about 2/3 of the Corvette's, and the Clipper's attack rate is about 3/5 of the Sloop's. Thus, they're not really much of a threat.

Now, you might think that it's really down to something like the damage modifiers that units get. And indeed, there does seem to be a problem with them. In balance.xml, Caravels, Corvettes, and Sloops only do 50% damage to Helicopters and Attack Helicopters and 33% damage to Fishermen but do 400% damage to the Fire Raft line (Fire Rafts to Attack Submarines). However, the Dutch unique ships get none of these modifiers (whichever developer who modified the entries forgot to apply them to the Dutch ships, or maybe the Dutch ships were added afterward and whoever did the Dutch ships forgot to apply the modifiers). Thus, relative to regular light ships, the Dutch unique light ships should be pretty good against helicopters (although you're in trouble if you're still using the Dutch ships against them), very good against Fishermen, and extremely bad versus the Fire Raft line. That the Dutch ships should be very good against Fishermen but horrible against Fire Rafts was the reason why I set out to test them in the first place, only to find out that they're bad all around; Brigs do kill Fishermen about as fast as Caravels (even though they're supposed to be 3x faster), but they take about 12x the time to kill a Fire Ship.

The next thing you might be thinking is that maybe there's something in the innate game damage modifiers, the "hidden" damage modifiers that aren't in balance.xml, that govern things like why Bowmen do so much damage against Hoplites, etc. And indeed, there are a number of innate damage modifiers:

  • Light ships, submarines, and attack submarines (but not the rest of the Fire Raft line) do 200% damage against naval civilians (Fishermen, naval merchants, transports).
  • Heavy ships do 160% damage against light ships.
  • The Fire Raft line does 400% damage against the Fire Raft and against Bomb Vessels and Bomb Ketches.
  • The Fire Raft line does 310% damage against the Heavy ship line.
  • Cruisers, Missile Cruisers, Submarines, and Attack Submarines do 180% damage against Advanced Battleships and Aircraft Carriers, because the former group has OBJ_MASK_U (armor-piercing) and the latter group has OBJ_MASK_A (armored). (In general, OBJ_MASK_A is actually a bad flag to have, because it doesn't confer any significant defensive advantages other than against machine guns, it causes the unit to do 66% damage against buildings, plus any unit with OBJ_MASK_U, such as tanks, will do 180% damage to it.)
  • Bomb Vessels and Bomb Ketches do 33% damage against ships.

However, the Dutch ships get all the bonuses (and weaknesses when defending vs other ships) that regular light ships get in the innate damage modifiers, so it's not that either.

To make a long story short, "on paper" the Dutch ships are supposed to be slightly better than their standard counterparts, but in testing, they're really bad. And it seems like they simply attack very slowly, even though their unitrules.xml attack speed stats are the same as their standard counterparts.

Has anyone else noticed this before? If you would like to test out for yourself, it's very easy: Just open up a single-player game, use "cheat sandbox" to revert all players to your (human) control, and cheat add units to test them out and fight each other; for example, "cheat add 3 caravel red" will add 3 Caravels to the red nation wherever your cursor is. You can then use this to test out the matchups given above and see if you get the same results.

There's two possibilities from this, neither of which I find credible:

  1. This analysis is correct and Dutch ships have been sucking all these years. But if so, why hasn't anybody noticed before? I haven't been able to find any mention of this. How can this type of bug have gone unnoticed by all the players of this game, especially those who play competitively (and so have lots of experience with how things actually work) and those who play the Dutch or against the Dutch frequently?
  2. This analysis is incorrect and there's some problem with my testing setup, copy of the game, etc. But if so, what is it? I've already looked through unitrules.xml to verify that I haven't messed with those values, and admittedly my testing is just to use cheat codes (so there may some weird problem such as with a unit being cheat created rather than by the dock...but I've tested this by using units created by the Dock as well), and I haven't seen this problem (yet) with any other units.

A third one is if I'm missing something here, but if so, what?

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