Glad to see you again Captain. We’ve gone over preparations before sailing into battle, making sure your ship is properly provisioned, have enough supplies like food, kits to mend and repair your ship, and ammunition for your weapons. If your memory is a bit rusty, we recommend giving that another look in last week’s DevBlog.
Now, are you ready to set sail and hunt down your enemies? Let's get to the fun part where we talk about active combat, where you get to see your crew and your ship’s formidable weapons in action!
Alright captain, time to be straight with you by sharing a disclaimer. We are excited to be giving you an early look at Skull and Bones. But please be aware the game is still a work-in-progress and some of the details shared here may change before release.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Strategizing your Attack
Customising your loadout plays an important role in preparing for combat.
Different weapons will deal various damage types: explosive, piercing, fire, flood, or tearing. Some weapons can even repair allied ships and can be a great asset if you be sailing with other friendly captains.
Depending on your target's attachments, they'll be able to resist certain types of damage or will recover from them faster.
Upgrading your weapons and utilising your enemy's weaknesses can significantly increase your damage output.
While you are trying to make a name for yourself as a pirate captain by defeating foes and liberating loot from merchant ships, your targets will often have a misguided notion of fighting back.
It would be wise for you to consider investing in armour for your ship to resist incoming damage. You can do this by equipping different armour attachments. Primarily, armour types have resistance to certain types of damage while a couple will increase other types of damage or bring an advantage.
As Captain, you'll need to weigh the benefits and trade-offs. For example, the Baltic Planking is a wood armour, which has resistance to flooding damage and decreases stamina drain while bracing. While the Thorny Covering, a spiked armour, will increase the ramming damage of your ship. You can find a detailed list of all the different weapons and armour attachments as well as their strengths and weaknesses in our DevBlog article on loadout customisation.
Armour and weapons also come in different variation which affect their damage output or the resistance to damage mitigated to your ship's armour. Higher-tier weapons will deal extra damage against lower-tier armour and vice versa.
As you increase in infamy, you'll be able to craft higher-tier weapons and armour which will allow your ship to...how shall we put this, liberate loot more quickly and effectively while minimising the risk of damage to your ship.
Choosing the right weapons will allow you to tear through your enemy's armour, and equipping the right kind of armour to protect yourself from incoming damage could ensure your victory. Assessing your enemies' firepower and armour setup before heading into combat will be an important part of strategising your attack.
All ships, including your own, have weak points. For ships captained by a player, your weak points will depend on the type of ship you are sailing. Ships that aren’t captained by a player will have different weak spots that you can seek to exploit in combat. Destroying weak points can have dire effects on the enemy ship in addition to dealing more damage so hitting them will make it easier for you to gain an advantage in battle.
While in combat, you will be able to see a ship’s weak points highlighted in red. Some of them can be hard to hit while you and your opponents are manoeuvring for positioning. However, the results can be spectacular when you successfully hit your opponent’s weak points, while protecting your own soft spots lest you and your crew share in their fate.
Another factor to consider in combat, status effects can help your ship deal more damage or reduce incoming damage more effectively. Status effects refer to temporary buffs or debuffs such as heal-over-time (HoT), increased speed, or damage-over-time (DoT) that can be applied to your target or your ship. Some status effects can be applied before combat, by consuming certain foods, or during combat by using certain weapons and damage types.
While some status effects take effect instantly, such as speed buffs or healing received from kits, some effects need to be built up before taking full effect. Status effects such as flooded and torn sails will require time to build up but it can have a devastating effect on an opponent. You can greatly speed up the process by skilfully targeting specific areas on your target, or with a clever loadout relying on perks. These status effects include:
- The Ablaze status effect is triggered when a ship has suffered significant fire damage. Ablaze deals high damage over a period of time.
- The Flooded status effect is triggered when a ship has suffered significant flooding damage. Flooded deals medium damage over a period of time, half of which is irreparable using repair kits. Also, the ship is slowed down while Flooded is in effect.
- The Torn Sails status effect is triggered when a ship's sails has suffered a certain amount of damage. Torn Sails causes the ship to be immobile for a period of time.
Certain weapon types and ship perks will be more effective at inflicting a specific status effect. After reaching a threshold, the effect will be applied and will either subside over time or can be removed with Restoration Kits.
For example, Sea Fire can apply a burning effect on your target. This burning effect will subside on its own or it can be removed instantly by using a Restoration Kit. If you are working with another captain in a larger engagement involving multiple ships, you can coordinate your loadouts to be particularly effective at inflicting specific status effects with devastating results. But beware, your enemies can also apply these status effects to your ship!
Crew to Crew Manoeuvre
Every young buccaneer knows: "No prey, no pay!" It is no surprise that your crew will be itching to get in on the action (and the booty) as much as possible. During combat, you'll be able to increase the vulnerability of your target to crew attacks.
With each successful attack and combat manoeuvre, the vulnerability meter will increase until your crew is ready to perform a crew-to-crew manoeuvre. A crew-to-crew manoeuvre takes advantage of the increased vulnerability of your target to impart powerful attacks against an enemy ship. If the damage to the enemy ship is substantial, it can be used to board and sink them, rewarding you with loot. But beware that these manoeuvres require you to get in close and can potentially open you up to dangerous counterattacks. It is up to you, as captain, to decide when and where to unleash the fire of your crew's muskets!
Outmanoeuvring your Enemies
While firepower is important, it is not always enough. Whether you underestimated your opponent or encountered unexpected reinforcements, you may find the tide of battle is not going in your favour. Being able to outmanoeuvre your enemies could make the difference between victory, getting to live to fight another day, or defeat.
For example, if you are using a ship that is nimble and agile, you can whittle away at a slower heavily armed and armoured enemy who will have trouble bringing their weapons to fully bear against you. Conversely, if you are the type of captain who wants to overcome your opponents with raw and overwhelming firepower, you can pick the type of ship that will let you load up guns, more guns, and even more guns. You may not be as fast and may have greater difficulty hitting a nimbler opponent. But when your barrages connect, they will find themselves in a world of hurt!
Different captains can have different approaches, but even the most bloodthirsty pirate can't be winning every battle through sheer raw firepower. A quick witter captain will also consider environmental factors and find ways to utilise them to their advantage to engage stronger opponents. These factors include but are not limited to where to take cover, being aware of areas with difficult weather, or places to avoid. It also doesn't hurt to think about a possible avenue of escape or a position to fall back to and regroup if things don't go to plan.
You have a wide array of different ship types at your disposal, each with different handling, perks and manoeuvring characteristics where you can factor in things like wind direction and the shape of your sails. You can order your crew to trim your sails for more speed to ram into your opponent, and use the direction of the wind to your advantage to give your ship a speed boost while you quickly manoeuvre alongside an enemy ship for a broadside attack. You could lower your sails to change direction quickly and narrowly avoid a full broadside attack to avoid taking damage. Those are but a few examples of how skill and agility can play a role in your success as a pirate.
Of course, it never hurts to consider bringing in reinforcements of our own and ask fellow pirate captains to help us out!
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Looting
A true pirate knows that battle is all about gaining infamy and, of course, precious loot. If you've been successful and your target ship's hull is on its last sea legs, you may be tempted to quickly unload that final broadside on your enemy and grab what remains, but it's worth considering your options.
Once your enemy's health is low you can order your crew to sink them from afar.
If you want some bonus loot, you can also try to board the ship with your crew by getting in close enough to execute a boarding manoeuvre. Boarding requires that your opponent's vessel be vulnerable and damaged enough. It can be a tricky to pull this off in the middle of a fight, but also very fruitful as you will be able to seize their loot before sinking their ship.
It's up to you to decide whether you will take the risk or destroy your enemy safely from a distance!
Now that you're all experts in sinking and liberating loot from enemy ships, you may be on the lookout for bigger targets. Luckily, the world of Skull and Bones is rich with bountiful opportunities for aspiring Kingpins. We'll be covering those in the next DevBlog where we'll discuss how to engage and defeat well-guarded forts as well as how to plunder wealthy settlements!