Author Topic: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action  (Read 9350 times)

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Offline StarSlayer

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To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Wherein StarSlayer records his attempts to journey from shave tail midshipmen to Beau Sabreur of the high seas!

So I have finally started to take a crack at Naval Action, an open world naval combat game by Game-Labs LLC set in Caribbean during the Age of Sail.

After playing a night in the PVE Server to get my basic sea legs I've decided to jump in the deep end and start PVP, I will share what I learn and document my successes and failures here.  First I will give a quick overview of some of the basic Open World Stuff.  As was stated the game world consists of the Caribbean, including the coasts of Mexico, the southern US and upper edge of South America.  Contesting these waters are nine factions including Britain, France, Spain, The United States, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands , Neutral(don't play as these guys) and Pirates.  You can choose any of these factions as the fight over the various ports, seas and trade routes in the theater of operations.  In the various friendly ports you can lease outposts allowing you to setup resourcing operations, shipyards, warehouses and docks to store spare ships.  You can also craft, buy and sell goods and vessels as well as repair and equip your ships.  Also in Port you can take on missions from the Admiralty or queue up for large and small battles.  Ships you buy or craft typically have a durability rating up to five(?)  Meaning you can lose it that many times before it is permanently gone, vessels taken as prizes have a durability of one.  As a player you can buy or capture pretty much any type of ship in game so progress is throttled not by grinding trees but by your Rank and the size of the crew you can command.  While you could acquire a Third Rate ship of the line as an Ensign you barely command enough men to keep her decks scrubbed.     

A look at Ranks:
  • Midshipman(Garde-Marine) - Max crew of 40
  • Ensign(Enseigne de Vaisseau) - Max crew of 60
  • Junior Lieutenant(Lieutenant de Frégate) - Max crew of 120
  • Lieutenant(Lieutenant de Vaisseau) - Max crew of 150
  • First Lieutenant(Capitaine de Corvette) - 200
  • Master & Commander(Capitaine de Frégate) - Max crew of 250
  • Post Captain(Capitaine de Vaisseau) - Max crew of 350
  • Flag Captain(Capitaine de Pavillon) - Max crew of 650
  • Commodore(Chef de Division) - Max crew of 800
  • Rear Admiral(Chef d'Escadre) - Max crew of 1100

Next we will take a look at the ship types via Royal Navy Rating System:
  • 1st Rate (100+ guns)
  • 2nd Rate (90-98 guns)
  • 3rd Rate (64-80 guns)
  • 4th Rate (50-60 guns)
  • 5th Rate (32-44 guns)
  • 6th Rate (20-28 guns)
  • Unrated (4-16 guns)

1st through 4th Rates are the big Ships of the Line having at least two gun decks and mounting big scary 32 pounder guns on the lower deck.  Third Rates of Seventy Four guns were considered the optimal mix of firepower, speed and durability and typically formed the back bone of most battle lines.  5th and 6th Rates comprise the fleet work horse frigates including 44 gun monsters like the USS Constitution at the top and 26 gun light weights like the Cerberus at the bottom.  Unrated includes all the small stuff starting with little 12 gun cutters with 6 pounder pop guns up through schooners, brigs and snows mounting 22 guns.

In terms of comparing the ship types to player ranks from Midshipman to First Lieutenant your crew can complement the Unrated ships and ending with the first 6th Rate frigate, the HMS Cerberus.  The fun picks up at Master and Commander and Post Captain were you can successfully crew 5th and 6th rate Frigates.  From Flag Captain onward you get into the heavy stuff ending in Rear Admiral who can compliment the largest ships such as the HMS Victory and the Santisima.
So let's get into it.  After choosing a server you can create or select an account assigned to a particular Nation.  I decided to go for France, so I traveled up the Slayer family tree and nabbed a French surname and opened an account under Jean Cormier.  The French Navy typically has come out second to the Royal Navy of Britain, however, this gap has been exacerbated after the Revolution.  Considering much of the Officer Corps was derived from the nobility the purges of the Revolution have gutted much of the leadership and expertise of the French Navy.  Still Napoleon's France is a meritocracy and this vacancy at the top leaves plenty of opportunity for one of drive and talent to climb the ladder of success.  As the Napoleon says of the Grande Armée, every man caries a Marshal's Baton in his knapsack. 

Hailing from La Rochelle France I, Jean Cormier, have traveled across the Atlantic to the French Capital of Port Royal.  Here I will begin my first command as a Gardes de la Marine in charge of a 12 gun Cutter in service of the French Navy.  Fail not in this charge at your peril.

The Current Map(focus is on the French holdings):

Tomorrow I will update with my first two sorties and discuss how actual sailing and combat works.

'Vive l'Empereur!'
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline Mongoose

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Very much looking forward to hearing your experiences!

I know you said you're focusing on PvP, but do you think this game has much mileage for someone interested only in PvE/offline play? Or is it currently focused on PvP development?


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Very much looking forward to hearing your experiences!

I know you said you're focusing on PvP, but do you think this game has much mileage for someone interested only in PvE/offline play? Or is it currently focused on PvP development?

I do not think they have an offline mode, from what I can tell the PVE mode is basically a mirror of the PVP Open World only the enemies are bots.  Obviously the AI is going to be less challenging than good players, and the server doesn't appear to have the same pop as PVP.

So lets take a look at our first command, the Basic Cutter of 12 guns.  She mounts a single mast and like most Unrated ships a fore and aft rigged sail plan.  Fore and aft rigged ships like the cutter are very forgiving sailers, unless pointed directly into or with the wind they tend perform very well, especially "Close Hauled" against the wind (45 degrees) and at "Beam Reach" (90 degrees).  Square rigged ships on the other hand perform at their best at "Broad Reach" (135 degrees) or "Running With" (180 degrees) the wind.

Here is a performance chart of the Cutter (Direction of the wind is from the top down):

In effect most of Unrated ships can be operated almost entirely on whats known as Auto Skipper where the ship automatically works the sails for the best possible speed.  Once we start crewing square riggers we will need to start utilizing Manual Sails to get the best performance out of the vessel, however, we won't need to worry about that till we get to the Brig or Snow.  For now so long as we are careful not to sail directly into the wind we should be able to avoid being caught "In Irons."  Another advantage of the fore and aft rig is that close hauled to the wind we can outperform square rigged ships, though they can beat us when sailing with.  This is most important in fleeing or giving chase depending on your rig type.

Next lets look at the armament, in Naval Action weaponry comes in roughly 10 rating groups according to the pound of shot they can fire.  Each ship can select weapons from a range of these groups.  On top of that there are three major types of weapons, long guns, medium guns and caronades.  Long guns have the most range and accuracy at the expensive of punch, caronades have short range and high alpha while the mediums are provide a balance.  In our Cutter's case she can pull from groups 10-8 and the default are 4 pounder medium guns.  Since we have just taken command and haven't made any gold we will need to take her out stock.

Since Fort Royal is the heart of the French colonial holdings in the Caribbean it is fairly secure and I can take my little Cutter out and not run into the entire Royal Navy.  Until I get comfortable in game I will be operating mostly in these home waters.  So let's see what is available, in the Port UI (which is very WIP) I pulled up the missions tab and check the Admiralty Orders.  Admiralty Orders are essentially missions against the AI that are appropriately scaled for your rank, you can accept two at a time.  They offer a set reward in XP and treasure in addition to that which you earn from the battle itself:

Now that I have accepted two Search and Destroy missions lets pull the chart and see where I need to go:

There are no navigational aids in Naval Action, you only have your chart and reference points such as islands and their respective ports to guide you.  While they may eventually implement a sextant feature in the future versions to figure out your exact location, for now it is very easy to get lost if you are not careful.  So I will need to leave Fort Royal, head south and round Martinique using Marin and La Trinite as reference points to find the reported Pirates. 

So lets be about it.

We enter the Open World and begin our voyage south.  Time is compressed to allow for fast travel and the world is populated by other players as well as AI convoys and lone traders.  We can interact with any ships we meet but if we attack a friendly ship who is not shipping contraband then we are automatically branded a Pirate, which is currently non revocable.  As we head south I spy some British Trader convoys but they are escorted by Brigs and Snows,  warships I have no intention of tangling with.  Nearing the port of Marin, however, we sight a French Trader hauling contraband and I decide to prosecute this opportunity as our first action.  Trader ships are typically unarmed or mounting only a few cannons so this is a safe opportunity to blood the crew and earn some XP and gold.  After initiating an attack we need to keep the target ship in close proximity for about 20 seconds before we enter the battle.  In this case we both start the action oriented to the wind in Beam reach and the Trader Snow immediately attempts to flee.


As you can see from the above battle interface in the lower right you can set the crew to focus on a number of different aspects such as boarding or gunnery.  By selecting a focus we improve ship performance in that area.  On the lower left is the type of shot used for each set of guns, since the Cutter lacks bow or stern chasers we only care about port and starboard batteries.  The three types of shot are Ball, Chain and Grape.  Ball is the basic solid round shot, Chain is two smaller round shot connected by chain that excels at ripping open sails and carrying away cordage while Grape is basically cannon sized buckshot for killing personnel.  Above the ammo selection note the [R] and [V] settings.  [R] sets the range where your guns converge.  Your options are no convergence, automatic convergence, and focus at 100 or 250 meters.  [V] sets the order of cannon fire, your options are random, rolling front or rolling back.  Rolling fire means the cannons fire in sequence starting from bow or stern.  Rolling Fire is typically going to be more useful, depending on the orientation of the target ship and your own should dictate what order makes the most sense.

Since a stern chase is a long chase, I set the crew priority to sail handling and load chain shot in my guns with a convergence at 250m.  I set off in pursuit, occasionally weaving back on forth to expose my broadsides to fire a salvo of chain.  Here the lack of bow chasers is felt, since I need to balance exposing enough side to fire without giving up to much distance with the fleeing smuggler.  Eventually I whittle down the smuggler's sail plan enough to start closing the gap, around 50-60% you start to see a marked drop in speed and maneuverability.  I want to take this ship as a prize rather than sink it and since its has significantly more crew than my little cutter I will need to reduce his complement before I try to board.  If you take a look at the upper left of the battle interface you will see the ship silhouette with four bars corresponding with the bow, stern and sides.  These display the ships hull integrity, and round shot is the best at taking this away.  I need to knock off some of that hull integrity before I can use grape to whittle his crew down to a manageable amount.  Therefore once I've closed in on his stern I switch my crew focus to gunnery, my shot to Round, set my convergence to 100m and begin to rake his stern.  There are two methods of firing, a full broadside(left mouse button) or one cannon at a time(spacebar).  Single shot is useful for making ranging shots to dial in a full salvo or in the case of a small target, like a ship's stern, making sure each shot connects.  After a few passes of round shot his stern integrity is reduced enough for grape to be effective and thus I swap ammo type.  Now most ships of this era feature an open deck from bow to stern.  Shot pumped in from the relatively unarmored stern can travel the entire length of the ship.  The same thick hull on the flanks and bow that keep shots out now keep all that fire trapped inside, turning the lower decks into a charnel house.  This was especially effective against warships since those lower decks were packed with gunnery crews.  Because of its obvious effectiveness a major part of this game will be about setting yourself up to rake an opponent's stern.
Because this is a trader instead of a proper warship the crew isn't focused in the below decks so it takes quite a few salvos of grape to wear down his numbers.  So I continue to weave back and forth across his stern firing salvos until I have a significant advantage in crew compliment.  I switch my crew focus now to boarding action, this begins boarding preparation which builds up over time, the higher your prep the better the subsequent boarding action will proceed.   I now bring my Cutter alongside and cut the trader off, forcing him to reduce speed till I can initiate a boarding action.  Boarding Actions are almost in effect their own rock paper scissors mini game, since I am not clear on the exact mechanics I will cover them in depth at a later time.  Luckily I thoroughly reduced his crew before storming his gunwales so I handily win the action despite my lack of expertise.   

Now that I have won the battle and taken the enemy as a prize I proceed to the after action report.  In the current build XP is strongly tied to damage dealt so my focus on stripping sails and crew means the XP gain is rather modest.  Still I have acquired a new trader ship and the contents of its hold.  I cannot fit the cargo in the hold of my tiny cutter though and game limitations do not allow me to load cargo on a ship I send back to an outpost so I instead assign my Cutter to head back to Fort Royal while I take personal command of the captured Trader Snow.  I make sail for the closest French port which in this case is Marin and when I arrive I immediately sell the captured Snow and its cargo for a hefty profit.  If this was one of my outposts, however, I could have kept the ship or broken her up for parts and stored the cargo in a warehouse, but I am not concerned with trading or crafting at the moment.   Luckily Cutters cost zero gold to acquire so I requisition a new one, and with the gold I've amassed purchase a new set of 6 pounder Longs from Marin's stocks to outfit her with.

I the next update I will depart from Marin and continue around to the east coast of Martinique to fulfill my two Admiralty orders, but for now I will wrap this up.  Hopefully as I go I will need to explain fewer of the mechanics and can streamline these a bit.

Bon Voyage!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2016, 10:47:46 pm by StarSlayer »
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
I'm intrigued.

But I must insist on more screenshots. Maybe invest in a program that does it; there are ones out there that take them every 15 seconds or so automatically.
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Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Okay I downloaded a screenshot app but the first run put watermarks all over everything :blah:.  Also battles take quite a while in this era so goddamn that was a lot of screenies.  So this post will suffer again from a dearth of shots, but after making some tweaks to the screenie app hopefully future installments will have a good selection of images.

After departing Marin I again proceed south, rounding Martinique hoping to fulfill my Admiralty Orders.  On the east coast I spot my first target and enter battle.  Upon loading in I find myself pitted against a Pirate Lynx.  The Lynx is a spry schooner, swifter than my cutter but only mounting 8 guns.  While few ships can catch her close hauled to the wind, this brigand is intent on having a scrap.

One of the Cutter's best points of sail is close hauled to the wind at 45 degrees so I can easily power over whenever I tack across the wind.  This forgiving nature means a fight between Fore and Aft rigged ships boils down to a rather wild melee.  Both ships' sailing characteristics allow for a twisting turn fight that would leave a square rigger In Irons.  So long as I don't get caught pointing into the wind and lose headway I can maintain roughly 6-11 knots at all times.  On the other hand both ships present such a low slung target that even light seas present many difficult shooting opportunities:

Note the "Reload Shock" under the Lynx's status in the top right, our last broadside struck home with telling effect disrupting his crew's ability to service their guns.

On the uproll Lads! Wait for the best shot.  Also note the "battle sails" in the navigation status in the lower left.  Battle sails produce less heel and provide a more stable firing platform.  As you can see from the ship status bars in the top left and right our heavier broadside and better gunnery is having a telling effect.

No quarter for pirates and their ilk.

In addition to the bounty from the Admiralty of 5000 gold and 50XP we made a pretty good haul in rewards for the battle itself, especially since we damaged the opponent till she sank rather than taking her as a prize.  Once back in the open world I used a couple repair kits to fix the battle damage.  Repair kits are essentially like extra stores that allow for repairs away from Port which is essential on longer forays.  The best is they cost nothing to stock for our basic cutter, but I am sure I will feel the pinch with later ships.   

With our ship back in fighting trim I proceed towards the next Admiralty mission, just a shade north of our last battle.  This opponent turns out to be a Privateer.  She essentially is a more powerful Lynx and carries an armament similar to our cutter but can mount more powerful carronades.  She should be skippered by and Ensign with a crew of 60 to my 35 so I am not keen on boarding this fellow without paring down his crew! 

I initially considered using chain to strip his sails and rigging but after he slammed two good opening salvos into my cutter I corrected that notion and loaded round shot.  While the Privateer mounts a more powerful broadside than the Lynx we just fought it also presents a larger target.

At this point he caught fire, the bane of all wooden ships.  While his crew was able to extinguish the flames I took the opportunity to pummel his ship to splinters while he was distracted.

Another raider sent the bottom, though a tougher fight than the Lynx.  The resulting rewards from this battle netted me my first promotion to Enseigne de Vaisseau(Ensign) and the ability to command a crew of 60.  While this would allow me to comfortably crew an Privateer Schooner or Pickle, neither of these ships I feel offer a significant upgrade over my cutter.  Instead I will keep grinding XP and saving cash for our eventual promotion to Lieutenant de Frégate.

From here on out I was trying out the Auto screen capture, which as I found out needed some extra tweaks, the long and the short of it was that I continued to take on additional Admiralty Orders.  Pitting myself against more Pirates operating near and around Martinique typically fighting Cutters, Privateers and Lynx.  I did, however, get some snaps of the following encounter with a smuggler which allows me to display an interesting Port mechanic:

Caught another French Trader Snow hauling contraband, after a lengthy chase I managed to whittle down his sails with chain shot:

Then closed on his stern, swapped to round shot to soften his hull integrity before switching again to grape:

After reducing his crew and undertaking a successful boarding action I took the ship as a prize.  In his hold we found a large cargo of Teak and Live Oak and since it would not fit in my scrappy cutter I opted to take command of the Snow and send my cutter back to port by itself. 

After sailing the captured Trader Snow back to Fort Royal I offloaded its cargo and armament (6 carronades) into my warehouse and promptly sold the ship.  As for the timber I just acquired, lets try something different.  I am going to setup a contract to sell the material to the community instead of selling it to the Port economy.  Under the Shop section I check the Resources tab and check the market prices for my loot, the going rate for Teak for example is 40 gold.  So I setup a contract to sell my Teak for 35 gold a lot and folks looking for timber will instead buy my cheaper stock.  While I do not get an instant outlay of cash and I need to pay a contract fee of 85 gold I am selling my stocks at a better price than I would otherwise get from a sale to the port economy. 

That's it for now, I'm about 200 xp from being promoted to Lieutenant de Frégate (Junior Lieutenant).  This promotion will give me command of 120 men and allow me to fully crew the Brig and Snow, our first square riggers.  I am really looking forward to get into these ships as they are the gateway to the Frigates and Ships of the Line. 

à bientôt!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 11:10:46 am by StarSlayer »
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
So good news, bad news, best news

The good news is our Teak contract was all bought up for a hefty profit! Yay!

I also had a great night, running down and capturing a French Trader Snow hauling contraband and a British Trader Brig who both yielded some very nice cargo I can resell.  Combined with completing a few more Admiralty Orders hunting Pirates my achievements merited a second promotion to Lieutenant de Frégate! Huzzah!

The bad news is the Screenshot App still dumped water marks over everything...  Boo that App Booooooo

The best news is that I now have 120 men at my command and over 120k in gold.  After reading some reviews online I decided to take a chance and leapfrogged the Snow and Standard Brig and instead buy a Mercury.  The Mercury is normally a command for a Lieutenant de Vaisseau, but needing only 135 men my 120 can crew her with only a minimal penalty.  So I splurged on a lovely example on sale in Fort Royal that had been crafted by another player.  I will cover crafting when I venture into it myself, suffice to say players can construct a number of goods and vessels.  To be honest the variety of ventures you can partake in the Open World is mind boggling at times.

Anyway here she is lads our first real warship and ma fille magnifique:

What an absolute looker yes?

I took her out for a quick jaunt, primarily to start practicing manual sails usage but what I was hoped would be a minor skirmish with a British Cutter actually turned into a bigger fight than I intended when the escorts for a passing British Trade Convoy also appeared ready for a scrap.  Luckily a passing French Constitution also joined battle and we were able to win quite handily even with my novice skills.  Tomorrow I will provide some more information on our new Mercury as well as explain how the Manual Sails work.  I will need to practice a lot before I am comfortable with using them to best effect but the advantages they provide are plainly obvious.  If you want to succeed in utilizing square riggers Mastering Manual Sails is absolutely mandatory.

Let me know if you have any questions and I will answer as best I can.

That's all for now, Salut!

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action

So lets take a look at our new Command, the Brig Mercury.  She is a two-masted, square-rigged ship with an additional gaff sail on the mainmast.  She represents one of the three Russian ships in game, the others being the 2nd Rate St. Pavel of 80 guns and the 4th Rate Ingermanland of 64.  If I'm not mistaken the Ingermanland and Mercury represent the chronologically oldest and youngest ships in game, being launched in 1715 and 1820 respectively.  Her claim to fame occurred May 14, 1829 during the Crimean War when she was pursued and engaged by an Ottoman battlefleet. Despite being forced into an unequal fight against a 1st Rate of 110 guns and 3rd of 74, Mercury managed to sock both before giving the Turks the slip.

In terms of playstyle Mercury is a dramatic departure from the fore and aft rigged cutter we previously have been commanding.  She mounts carriages for 20 guns, 10 per side.  Still no chasers, limiting our options during pursuits or retreats but with the option to carry either 6pd cannons or 24pd carronades a significant broadside upgrade.

In short Mercury outguns everything at her class and below aside from the Snow whom she exceeds in both durability and speed. Speaking of speed and maneuverability...
Here is a performance chart of the Mercury (Direction of the wind is from the top down):

Unlike our Cutter that performs exceedingly well at Beam Reach (90 degrees) and Close Hauled to wind (45 degrees), the Mercury, like all square riggers, performs best with the wind at her back, especially at Broad Reach (135 degrees).  While square rigged ships outperform fore and aft riggers when running with the wind as you can see from the above chart they dramatically lose potential once heading into it.  In fact Mercury is more forgiving than many square riggers when sailing slightly upwind of 90 degrees as well as being able to compete with our Cutter at beam reach.  This means we must be cognizant of the wind direction and plan our maneuvers in a way fore and aft ships simply do not.
The other major change that comes with the Mercury is the need to utilize Manual sails.  Our Cutter performed fine with the Auto Skipper setting the sails to the optimal positions for best speed.  When we wanted to change course we just adjusted the tiller and turned on a dime.  The only instances where it was necessary to use manual sails was when she got caught pointed into the wind and lost headway.  Square Riggers on the other hand need a bit more input in order to perform well, especially when tacking across the wind.  With the sails simply set to Auto Skipper they will turn like a bus with only rudder input.  In order to not look like a complete noob and avoid getting wrecked we need to utilize the wind to augment our maneuvers.
Specifically we will be adjusting the yards on each mast to engage or disengage a set of sails so all of the force of the wind is exerted specifically on the bow or stern of our ship, providing yaw about the Vertical axis and dramatically enhancing our turns.

Brief summary of our controls:
Q Adjust the fore mast yards to Port
E Adjust the fore mast yards to Starboard
Z Adjust main and mizzen mast yards to Port
C Adjust main and mizzen mast yards to Starboard
A Port Rudder
D Starboard Rudder
Example One: Starboard turn with wind from Starboard
The wind is pushing opposite the direction we want to turn so after setting our rudder for the turn (D) we will disengage the fore sails (E) while setting the main sails to get the maximum bite out of the wind (Z).  This removes the force applied to our bow while focusing all the force aft swinging our stern out and augmenting the rudder.
Example Two: Port turn with wind from Starboard
The wind is pushing in the direction we want to turn, after setting our rudder for the turn (A) we will keep the fore sails engaged (Q) while setting the main sails to out of the wind (C).  This focuses the wind force applied to our bow while removing the force aft pushing our bow into the turn and augmenting the rudder.
Example Three: Starboard turn with wind from Port
The wind is pushing in the direction we want to turn, after setting our rudder for the turn (D) we will keep the fore sails engaged (E) while setting the main sails to out of the wind (Z).  This focuses the wind force applied to our bow while removing the force aft pushing our bow into the turn and augmenting the rudder.
Example Four: Port turn with wind from Port
The wind is pushing opposite the direction we want to turn after setting our rudder for the turn (A) we will disengage the fore sails (Q) while setting the main sails to get the maximum bite out of the wind (C).  This removes the force applied to our bow while focusing all the force aft swinging our stern out and augmenting the rudder.

Let see the above in action:

We are attempting to follow this wily Pirate Cutter around and keep him in our broadside firing arcs, with rudder alone we wouldn't keep up.  Please turn your attention to the navigation HUD element in the lower left corner.  The bar at the very bottom represents the Rudder and its the compass arrow indicates the direction of the wind.  In the middle of the ring is the boat silhouette with her sails.  As you can see we are making a Port turn with the wind moving Port to Starboard.  So we have disengaged our main mast yards (Z) while angling our foremast yards to catch as much of the wind as possible by using (E) thus our bow is being pushed around.

Now obviously there is a bit of finesse involved in the whens and degree of angling of your yards to get the tightest turn while losing the least amount of speed.  On top of that is an entire tactical layer based on gaining or holding the weather gauge that dictates the best types of maneuvers to conduct per situation.  As a novice I'm barely scratching the surface of the metagame myself.

I've also tried out the crafting system a bit and built a Trader Lynx which I then took on a little exploring/trading voyage up around Guadeloupe to the Free Port of Plymouth on Montsserat.  So next time I will give an intro to the Crafting and Trading functionality in Naval Action.
As before let me know if you have any questions, Salut!
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline Dragon

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
It's less detailed than I hoped it'd be. Are 3-masted ships controlled in the same way? I'd expect that you'd be able to control the mizzen separately as well. Also, can you give commands on the jibs? IRL, there's a trick for tacking with square riggers that involves holding the jibs taut through the turn, which causes them to work in reverse after crossing the wind line and help push the bow through the dead zone. A brig could likely do without it, but from what I know, it really helps when tacking with really big ships.

Also, how much control do you have over setting or furling individual sails?


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Main and Mizzen are controlled together.  Jibs and Stays are automatically handled depending on the amount of sail you have set.

The setting and furl of sail is handled by the W and S keys and are as follows:
  • Full
  • Half
  • Slow
  • Battle
  • Dead Slow
  • Stop

While a subject like sail handling certainly could be made more complex the current methodology combined with the dependency on the wind, control of the weapons and crew management create a pretty demanding juggling act in combat.  The game is already leagues ahead of most games in terms of learning curve, making it Sail Simulator 5 would likely winnow the potential player base considerably.

Actually here is a petty good shot of manual sails in action, hard starboard turn with the fore mast, gaff, jibs and stays engaged in the turn with the main disengaged:

After engaging with the port batteries I am engaging manual sails for a hard port turn to expose my starboard armament for a follow up salvo:

« Last Edit: April 19, 2016, 11:22:09 am by StarSlayer »
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Offline Dragon

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Well, it is more detailed than the old Age of Pirates games, but from their sales pitch, I expected better. :) It seems that it doesn't model the finer points of sail dynamics, instead going for the classic "amount of sail=throttle" simplification. For example, on a real ship, you don't furl all sails to stop (all that does is leave you at mercy of the currents and the wind, which can still exert considerable force on the rigging), you have to make them work against each other, which is called heaving to. The overall amount of sail you put up is less related to how fast you want to go and more to how strong is the wind. Does the game model being "over-canvassed" in heavy seas, or are you able to sail under full sails in a gale without tearing your masts off?


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action

The USS Essex was a 40 gun US Frigate built in 1799 in Salem Massachusetts about half an hour's drive east of where I live.  She participated in both the First Barbary War and The War of 1812.  Those of you familiar with the movie Master and Commander should note that the Acheron was based on the Essex(This is actually explicit in the book).  USS Essex was deployed to South American waters where she took numerous whaling prizes before the Battle of Valparaiso where she lost an engagement with the British frigates Phoebe and Cherub, in part due to her unfortunate armment of mostly 32 pounder carronades.  The British were able to take advantage of the pitifully short range the carronades and pummel Essex at arms length with their long guns.  After two and half hours Essex was forced to strike her colours and was taken into British Service.
In game Essex bridges the gap between the traditional 38 gun 5th rates and the heavy frigates such as HMS Trincomalee and USS Constitution.  She can mount 18 pounder cannons on her gun deck and 12 pounders on her quarter deck giving her a heavier weight of metal to throw than everything at her tier and below other than the Trincomalee.   In addition to that powerful armament she also boast a higher structure rating(HP) than the other 5th rates sans the TrincoEssex can make 12.24 knots on her best point of sail, but if you compare the below sailing chart to that of the Mercury or Cutter it should be apparent that with the larger ships performance drops off significantly beyond Beam Reach and use of Manual Sails has become absolutely necessary.

With speed and maneuverability similar to the other 5th Rates and a superior broadside and structure the Essex would appear a superior frigate, unfortunately she is somewhat hampered by her lack of chasers, either bow or stern.  This hinders her ability in a chase, either as a pursuit or in flight thus limiting her utility in the Open World.  This lack of chaser results in the HMS Trincomalee of 50 guns being widely considered the best 5th Rate in game due to her heavier broadside, four bow chasers and maximum speed of 12.48 knots at best point of sail.  Still the Essex is a powerful combatant especially in a line fight and in my opinion the prettiest frigate on game.

Anyway I had a fun Frigate Duel in my Essex against a Cerberus tonight.  Managed to hold the Weather Gage for this encounter and with prodigious use of manual sails kept both broadsides in action.  While I was able to keep spreading the incoming damage across my ship I also was able to keep concentrating on the starboard side of the Cerberus, pummeling her armor to splinters and setting her on fire.   

I also unlocked the Blueprint for the Rattlesnake after building a Exceptional Brig and promptly put together a Fine grade example as a placeholder till I can build an Exceptional model.  Rattlesnake was an American Privateer built during the War of 1812, actually constructed in Medford Massachusetts.  She had a pretty successful career taking numerous prizes until she was captured by HMS Leander, a heavy British frigate and taken into RN service.  A three masted Brig mounting 18 guns and 2 bow chasers Rattlesnake is probably one of the sweetest sailers in game making 13.9 knots at her best point of sail, just edging out the Renommée as the fastest ship in game.  She just dropped last patch along with the Chapman Indiaman and between her swift speed and bow chase armament probably will be the best commerce raider for the foreseeable future.  She is also very pretty, and with her three mast configuration could be mistaken for a light frigate.

I have a Exceptional grade Mercury in the yards just awaiting the labor hours to finish her up, and time permitting will use her build process to explain the crafting system.  I am hoping as a byproduct of her construction to unlock the Blueprints for the Surprise, Niagara and  Renommée.
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Offline Dragon

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
A "three-masted brig"? That's odd, brig has two masts by definition. It seems that the game's Rattlesnake would be better classified as a fully-rigged sloop-of-war, or (since you're with the French) a corvette. For the record, the historical Rattlesnake was a regular 14-gun brig, at least from what I know.


Offline TwentyPercentCooler

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Very cool, thanks for writing all of this up. I've watched a couple of streamers I follow play it, but they're definitely more casual about the mechanics.

Or rather, I think it would be more accurate to say you know a hell of a lot more about sailing.  :p


Offline Herra Tohtori

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
It seems that it doesn't model the finer points of sail dynamics, instead going for the classic "amount of sail=throttle" simplification. For example, on a real ship, you don't furl all sails to stop (all that does is leave you at mercy of the currents and the wind, which can still exert considerable force on the rigging), you have to make them work against each other, which is called heaving to. The overall amount of sail you put up is less related to how fast you want to go and more to how strong is the wind. Does the game model being "over-canvassed" in heavy seas, or are you able to sail under full sails in a gale without tearing your masts off?

Proper fluid dynamics in a sailing game would be awesome, especially as you could literally take the wind out of an enemy's sails.

Of course that would mean they would need to model the structural integrity of the masts as well, so that too much sails in too high wing would either cause a mast failure - or even worse, make the ship capsize. They would also need to model things like how the ship's keel and rudder interact with the water.

The problem of course is that modeling these things gets rather complicated, and while you could model each sail as their own aerofoil, the problems really start when you consider that the shape of the sails (and thus their aerodynamics) can vary based on how strong the wind is, the tension of the rigging, and how many holes they have from enemy action, etc. It would be really nice to see fluid dynamics and canvas physics working together for real, but I'm not sure how realistic an exception that is - there's a lot of moving, interconnected parts in a system like that.
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Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Anatomy of a Frigate Duel

Le Essex sortied from Fort Royal under Admiralty Orders to seek and engage an enemy Fifth Rate operating west of Martinique.  At 19 bells the lookout reported strange sail off the larboard bow.  Upon identifying it as the Leda class frigate Trincomalee of 50 guns flying the Black Flag, the crew beat to quarters and cleared for action.

Lets take a brief look at our opponent, the Trincomalee.  She is a Leda-class frigate built of teak in Bombay, India(at the time much of Britain's Oak was exhausted due to wartime construction) and launched in 12th October 1817.  Because she came into service after the Napoleonic wars her career was rather uneventful, much of it spent laid up in reserve.  In 1897 she was sold into private service, renamed Foudroyant, and used as a training ship until 1992 when she was restored to her original configuration and opened as a museum ship in Hartlepool, England. 

The Trinc is widely considered the best frigate in game, especially for open world operations.  She is very fast on her best point of sail making 12.48 knots and is heavily armed, mounting twenty eight 18 pdrs on her gun deck, twenty two 9 pdrs on her weather deck and a coveted bow chase suite of four 9 pdrs.  This heavy armament and speed is balanced with a wide turning circle, bad heel and a poor sailing profile, she just bleeds speed closer to the wind than beam reach: 

As we close to engage we will need to capitalize on these deficiencies if we are to come away victorious, especially since that heavy bow chase armament means disengaging from a Trinc will be very difficult.

Random encounters in the open world take into account the wind and positioning of both parties before entering battle mode.  However, since this is a mission both forces are placed in neutral starting positions with the wind on beam reach.

Now I want to retain the winward position and engage him on my lee, so I've turned into the wind a couple points so that he will pass me to starboard.  This gives me a number of advantages besides being upwind of his rank odor.  The primary advantage is holding the weather gage which gives me the initiative.  The second is to utilize the ships' heel, the wind is blowing perpendicular to our travel and causing both ships to lean over, this effects your gunnery at close range and can expose your bilge to fire.  By forcing the Trinc to engage a winward target his heel interferes with his ability to depress his batteries to engage me.   

Unfortunately the initial broadside in this scenario is typically a little inconclusive.  Both ships are closing at roughly a combined 20 knots, so the firing window is very abbreviated, even with rolling front fire.  I could take in the stay sails and jibs or set battle sail to slow and extend the to broadside but I want to retain all the velocity for my follow up maneuver.   

As I predicted the initial broadside was inconclusive and once past we immediately turn to port trimmed my sails and tack across the wind.  This allows us to retain the wind gage and present our other broadside to the target increasing our DPM. 

Since the Trinc's weather deck is quicker to load 9 pdrs compared to our long 12s she gets off another salvo but the angle is bad and the 9 pdrs have difficulty penning. 

However, I've now swung into position to let fly with a complete broadside of combined 18 and 12 pdrs.  Because I tacked across the wind I've hit him for two full broadsides to his one and a half.

Whats more is that I am now across the wind and picking up speed, I can continue my turn and bring my reloaded starboard broadside to bear yet again.

This winward spin is a strong position allowing me to maximize my firepower while the Trinc needs to beat upwind to try and retake the gage while I am keeping bringing each battery to bear as they reload

That said its difficult retaining energy conducting this maneuver and I am exposing a pretty decent profile for the Trinc to engage me.  What I really want is to get behind him:

I get a opportunity to rake his stern which knocks out cannons and kills crew, however, more importantly I am now on his stern.

This is perhaps the most advantageous position one can achieve, astern of your opponent and holding the wind gage.  It will be very difficult for the Trinc to shake me, the Essex is more maneuverable than the Trinc and any attempt to reduce sail will be telegraphed.  This would be even better if Essex was equipped with bow chasers, but I will have to do without.  What follows is a series of maneuvers similar to the Scissors in aerial combat, a set of consecutive S turns to bring each broadside to bear.  While Essex is more maneuverable than the Trincomalee my opponent will be able to avoid a direct stern rake and occasionally get off a salvo.  That said he will only get a poor shot at my heavily angled stern quarter, the majority of which will bounce.  As you can see from the following this proves utterly devastating to my opponent. 

With the hull integrity of both the Trinc's flanks stripped to more than halfway its time to bring this engagement to a close and I choose to focus the down her port side.  I sidle into Close Action and pound broadside after broadside into his weekend side till his structural integrity is stripped away and he begins to settle in the water. 

After a roughly 45 minute running engagement the Trincomalee had suffered enough structural damage and leaks to overwhelm her pumps and she slipped neath the waves.  Le Essex suffered minor damage and 21 casualties, with the objectives fulfilled set a course eastward for Fort Royal to conduct repairs and reprovision.   

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
She's Crafty, and she's just my type
She's Crafty

So it's not all about Brisk Actions and High Adventure on the Spanish Main, there is also a trade and crafting component. 

Lets look at the map and take note of the Info for the Port of Kingston(Yes France got its ass kicked on PVP2 USA, at the time I lacked the rank and resources to do anything about it.):

Now lets look at the Resources Tab in the Port Shop(you may remember this from when we setup a contract)

Each port has resources it produces and demands, they come in two types: commodities and building resources.  Commodities such as French Wine or Swedish Iron can be bought cheap in producing ports and sold at a higher price at consuming ports (note if you flood the market with a particular item the selling price will plummet).  Building resources are much more important because they fuel the crafting system and are used in the construction of ships and upgrades.  Note the Smuggler Tab at the top, this was a recent addition to the game and allows your cargo ship to enter hostile ports(at the risk of being fair game fore everyone) and is the only reason I haven't rerolled after France rolled over and died.

Crafting is an important part of the game since the AI economy only produces a limited supply of Basic Quality ships up to Fifth Rates.  Furthermore ships have a limited durability and once depleted(through loss or capture) they need to be replaced.  Ships of the Line, high grade vessels and upgrades and are only available through crafting and thus a helathy pop of crafters is essential to building and maintaining your faction's fighting capability.  Crafting has its own XP grind and leveling system separate of your combat rank, leveling up expands the items you can craft and the number of labor hours you can devote to construction.

The following site is the bread and butter for Crafting, containing the build recipes and blue print tree:

Since I currently have an Exceptional Rattlesnake on the stocks lets look at the build page specifically:

Build Receipe for Rattlesnake

Near the top left is Select Ship Quality, ships come in five grades:
  • Basic
  • Common
  • Fine
  • Mastercraft
  • Exceptional

I believe each level adds some minor stat buffs but more importantly increased number of upgrade slots.  Upgrade slots allow you to add a wide variety buffs to customize your ship, they come in Temporary and Permanent types.  Temporary Upgrades such as Optimized Ballast(decreases heel) or Marines(buff to boarding actions) can be swapped between ships.  Permanent Upgrades such as Copper Sheeting (increases speed) or Improved Magazine Access(buffs reload) are fixed to the ship and cannot be removed (just in case permanent was too ambiguous).   

Under the big Rattlesnake title we have some useful General Info:

  • XP gained: This is the amount of xp that will be contributed to your craft level
  • Labor Hours: The amount of labor hours required to construct everything, coupled with the basice resources this forms the brake on your progress
  • Shipyard Level: Your Shipyards come in three grades and need to upgraded to build bigger ships
  • Required Level: Each grade requires a higher craft level to build.  Since we are at level 24 we can easily build an Exceptional Rattler that requires only 20

Below the General Info we have four Wood Types to choose from:

  • Live Oak:  Stronger frame (+ planking), +1 class of armor quality, less speed (Best for Ships of the Line)
  • Oak:   Stronger frame (+ planking) no speed penalty
  • Teak: +1 class of armor quality no speed penalty
  • Fir: Faster ship, weaker hull (Best for Trade ships)

Not listed on the site are the various Trims that give an inherent bonus to the ship.

You can select one of the following Trims:
  • Crew space - crew size; from lower to higher
  • Planking - structure leaking; from more to less
  • Build strength - planking amount; from less to more
  • Rigging quality - sails up and down speed/ yard turning speed; from less to more
In addition to the above one of the following two Trims are randomly selected:
  • Stiffness - heel; from less reduction to more reduction
  • Speed - speed; from low to high

Once we have selected a type of Wood the next most important info is the Shopping List and Proposed Build Order on the right side of the page.  Shopping List displays a complete list of the raw materiel(and the ability to calc the building costs) needed and Proposed Build Order is the most efficient steps for building the sub assemblies.  Each of your Outposts has a Warehouse that allows you to store items, obviously you want compare your Naval Stocks with the the Shopping List before you start and fill any shortages.  In addition to being the components needed for building a ship, Sub Assemblies can also be sold separately on the market, and because of the throttling of labor hours often at a better profit than ships themselves.

One specific sub assembly to take note of are the Crafting Notes.  Crafting Notes are important because they determine the grade of ship built.  They come in Low, Medium and High Grade and because of the intensive labor hours needed to craft they often command the best prices on the open market.

Below is the in game Ships Craft Tab, it shows all the Vessels and Notes I can build.  I have the Rattlesnake queued up and as she is a great commerce raider I have selected Crew Space so I have more crew for boarding actions as my Trim.  As you can see I have already crafted my sub assemblies and I have the required labor hours queued up:

So let's pull the trigger:

So we got an exceptional Rattlesnake (this was expected) with Stiffness as its random trim and an additional Low Grade Note as a bonus.  If this was a ship capable of dropping a Blueprint there would have been a chance of unlocking one.  Since only a limited number of ships are unlocked by default constructing ships is necessary to unlock most of the classes.  If you look at the Ship Blueprints Tab on NavalActionCraft you can see the potentials for each drop.  Since I've been looking to unlock the Renommée I have been building a run of Common Grade Cerberus type frigates and selling them in Fort Royal.

Anyway that I hope provides a decent overview of the building process, let me know if you have any questions.

I also nabbed a nice Exceptional quality Teak Trinco that was for sail at in Fort Royal for a reasonable price.  I'm going to try running a mix of Long 18s on the gundeck and 32 pdr Carronades on the weather deck, the Carronades will not be much use at long range but in close action she ought to hit like a bus.

Not quite as fine a looker as Essex but still a handsome ship.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2016, 09:15:20 pm by StarSlayer »
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”


Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
The Trouble with Trincos

So I've been getting some reps in the Trincomalee and honestly I found her to be underwhelming.  Don't get me wrong, she's pretty robust and with a mix of Long 18s and 32pdr Carronades her broadside is the heaviest I have commanded:

I was expecting issues with her heel but her rolling is actually worse than I anticipated and her handling is noticeably poor.  I even went ahead and crafted Fine Grade Optimized Ballast to reduce her heel by 6% but she is still leaning 6-8% when not running directly with or against the wind.  Depressing the guns on targets to winward without taking in jibs in stays is not optional, point in fact I actually dumped an entire broadside over the top of a Renommée while yard arm to yard arm.  Don't get me wrong, you have depower your sails to deal with heal with many square riggers but the frequency and duration needed for the Trinc to settle does not make for a comfortable gun platform.   In addtition constantly depowering or reducing sail bleeds energy and let me tell you the Trinc already bleeds energy prodigiously when sailing closer to the wind than Beam Reach(90 degrees).  She also sports a wider turning circle than any of the other fifth rates and when coupled with the aforementioned speed loss Tacking is not a pleasurable experience.

Perhaps the most curious fault is that my example is dog slow even on Broad Reach(her best point of sail).  The Trinco is specifically lauded for her high top speed, but I can't seem to coax more than 11.8 knots our of her.  My Essex regularly makes better than 12 knots so this highly irregular. 

Overall I find the Essex to be an much more enjoyable vessel.  At the end of the day the better sailing profile of the Essex is much more important to how I like to fight frigates than the chase armament and heavier broadside weight.

This is unfortunate since I initially purchased the Trinco with the intent of forward deploying her to a Free Port and harassing Danish home waters, looking for Open World PVP opportunities.
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Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Cruising around Carriacou

Haha I caught a Unicorn!

I kid, its actually Le Gros Ventre a merchantman with a cargo capacity of 4800.  She is the second largest trading vessel in game behind the Indianman and is laid out on roughly the same lines as a Frigate.  In fact she was built in Bayonne by Leon Michel Guignace(the same guy that built La Belle Poule).  In addition she can carry either twenty 9 pdrs longs or 24 pdr carronades.  While not as fast as a true Fifth Rate she is faster than most other merchantmen and actually has a surprisingly good sailing profile:

Notice that her speed doesn't immediately plummet when closer to the wind than beam reach, this means she stands a decent chance of escaping most medium frigates on these points of sail.   Now the reason why I shot away all her masts was that in the current game version Marines (which is assigned to an upgrade slot and can only be acquired via loot drop) are a little OP.  With a crew of 240 even with 30 of them being Leathernecks a LGV can present a real problem during boarding actions.  Since I am not running Marines I am not going to screw around and instead carried away all her masts then raked her stern with Grape until I had an overwhelming numerical advantage. 

Until Marines get tweaked later down the patch line you do not want to play it fast and loose with a LGV and lose your ship in a failed boarding attempt. 
« Last Edit: June 09, 2016, 10:54:25 pm by StarSlayer »
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Offline StarSlayer

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Re: To Gloire We Steer! Slayer Plays Naval Action
Slayer Goes Where Slayer Pleases

Had an enemy Niagara brig try to cut in front of my Essex during a Fleet Battle.  Since the devs removed the chance of catastrophic leaks during ship to ship contact I was more worried about losing headway than taking damage.  With that in mind I channeled my inner Ludacris.

Now Niagara packs a pretty solid broadside for her size and supposedly is a sweet sailer but notice that low freeboard:

Well I was sailing large on beam reach making roughly 9 knots and apparently getting PIT maneuvered by 850 long tons of frigate stands a good chance of pushing a sixth rate under your stem.  I was still concentrating on getting off my broadsides when a death notification popped up on screen and after zooming out I noticed the keel up form of the Niagara in my wake.  Unfortunately the game doesn't recognize my feat of epic oceanic carnage so I don't get any credit for sinking her but that probably was the fastest kill I've performed to date.  Despite getting jipped on the Niagara road kill I still was credited with sinking a Cherubim 18 pounder frigate, a Mercury brig and an assist on the Renommée.

I also had a fun little duel with a pair of Cerberus frigates:

I chose one to focus down first, taking my time to strip the integrity from both its sides for maximum XP and credits.  Once my target began to settle in the water I then made a break on broad reach to conduct some repairs though they probably were not strictly necessary.  Since the Cerberus only has stern chasers I was able to recoup some hull integrity unmolested before I hauled back around on beam reach and engaged the second Cerberus.  Now that I only had to worry about the single target I managed a couple good stern rakes and some stern camping despite the Cerberus being a bit more lithe than my heavier Essex.

In other news there maybe a server merge onto EU in the near future, which will solve my being tied to a wiped out Faction problem.  Depending on the merge mechanics (its likely you will simply be able to redeem the stuff from your other server whenever you want) I will probably start a new player in either the USN or the Andrew.  I'm considering this because my secondary language skills are composed of mostly forgotten high school Spanish and Latin, screaming Japanese Kendo terminology and a smattering of Medieval German picked up from Kunst des Fechtens that apparently is no longer used in the modern language.  Inflicting myself on a mostly French, Dane, Dutch or Swede speaking faction probably isn't the way to go.  The one hang up I have with playing the USN is that unlike the European powers the US never really invested in ships of the line which are an important part of the game.  There might of been five to six built and launched during the time period of Naval Action?  Even though any nation can build and use any of the ships I always felt skippering a three decker flying the Stars and Stripes would be weird while the European powers were capturing and using each others' ships whenever possible. 

In addition they published a rough roadmap for the coming months.  Looks like there will be some interesting content coming down the pipe in the future.  The highlights look like the addition of crew and officers, the rework of the diplomacy/faction warfare and the specialization of the pirate faction.

June patch drops the 28th in addition to the new gameplay tweaks and features I'm keen to see what ships will be added.  I think the Bucentaure of 80 guns and Nelson's favorite HMS Agamemnon of 50 maybe on deck so to speak.

I'm still a long way from skippering a second rate like Bucentaure  but I might be able to undercrew the 'Eggs–and–Bacon'
« Last Edit: June 18, 2016, 12:36:49 am by StarSlayer »
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