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 for your crew, repair kits, 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
Weapon Counter System
Customising your loadout plays an important role in preparing for combat. Skull and Bones uses a Weapon Counter System which makes certain types of weapons more effective against certain types of armour.
Different weapons will deal various damage types: blunt, explosive, piercing, fire, flood, crushing, 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 armour attachments, certain weapons will deal increased damage against a specific armour type. For example, if your target has metal armour, using a weapon like Greek fire, which deals fire damage, will result in additional bonus damage. Using the same example, if your ship used a blunt culverin which metal armour is strong against, you will deal less damage to the target. Keep that in mind and try to select the right tool for the situation. 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 reduce incoming damage. You can do this by equipping different armour attachments. Each armour type has strengths and weaknesses, and as Captain, you’ll need to weigh the benefits and trade-offs. For example, leather armour will be more effective at reducing incoming fire and explosive damage but less effective at reducing piercing or flood damage. 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 tiers which affect the damage output of your weapons and the amount of damage mitigated by 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 strategizing 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. Status effects can be applied before combat, by consuming certain foods, using repair kits, or by using certain weapons and damage types.
While some status effects take effect instantly, such as speed buffs or healing received from repair kits, some effects need to be built up before taking full effect. Status effects such as fire, flooding, and tearing 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:
Fire status buildup will occur if it hits the ship’s sail or hull and will deal a large amount of damage for a short period of time.
Flooding status buildup will occur if it hits the ship’s hull and will deal a low amount of damage over time, but the effect persists until it is manually removed.
Tearing status buildup will occur if it hits the ship’s sail. It does not deal damage but causes the target ship to become stationary for a period of time. Any weapon can inflict tearing if aimed at a ship’s sails, but spiked weapons and weapons with anti-sail effects will be much more effective.
Certain weapon types 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 repair kits. For example, Greek Fire can apply a fire or burning effect on your target. This fire or burning effect will subside on its own or it can be removed instantly by using a repair 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, your crew morale bar will be replaced by the crew fury bar. With each successful attack and combat manoeuvre, your crew’s fury will increase until they are ready to perform a crew-to-crew manoeuvre. A crew-to-crew manoeuvre transforms your crew’s fury into powerful attacks against an enemy ship. Timed correctly, it can be used to board and sink other ships, rewarding you with loot. But beware that these manoeuvres require you to get in close and can potentially open yourself up to dangerous counterattacks. It is up to you, as captain, to decide when and where to unleash your crew’s fury!
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 manoeuvrable and 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 savvy 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 shallow waters, 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 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 to pick up 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 to unleash a broadside. 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 booty . 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. However, this will mean that a portion of the cargo and treasures will be lost to the depths of Davy Jones’ locker, never to be seen again.
If you want to maximise your loot, you can instead try to board the ship with your crew by getting in close enough to execute a boarding manoeuvre. Boarding requires a full fury bar and can be a tricky to pull off in the middle of a fight, but also very fruitful as you will be able to take all their loot before sinking their ship.
It’s up to you to decide whether you will take a risk or destroy your enemy safely from a distance!
Now that you have become experts in sinking and liberating loot from enemy ships, you may be on the lookout for a bigger target. 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!