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An Introduction to Naval Combat

Discussion in 'Ultima Online Forever: Naval Combat' started by Dewderonomy, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. Dewderonomy

    Dewderonomy Grandmaster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Brandon Van Raily
    Or, How Not to Suck Cannonballs at Sea
    by Captain Brandon Van Raily of the Wily Otter
    Vesper Commerce Commission

    Today, class, we're gonna' give you a hard-and-fast introduction to the life of naval engagements. This will give you some basic pointers to get you caught up on the basics, since it isn't as self-explanatory as you might wish. This introductory lesson will cover three main elements of seafaring and combat at sea:

    1. Bugs with the UOF Naval Combat System
    2. Basics of Helming and Fighting on a Ship
    3. Overview of Ships and What to Expect

    What this will not cover are the fundamentals of sailing a ship, MiBbing and whirlpools, rares and their chances, PvMing, special tactics and personal training. This is, at its core, an overview of what it means to get into a fight on the seas of Sosaria.

    1. Bugs, Bugs, Bugs!

    UO freeshards often play like Early Access games, and this system is no different in that regard. Much of the mechanics involved in this naval combat system do not work entirely as you would expect, so here are some things to be mindful of so you don't ragescuttle.

    -Cannons (also known as fuckin' guns) use cannonballs to shoot down enemies, be they player or NPC, and sink opposing ships. The explosions operate as an AoE of sorts, registering hits on the target and those around it, including any ship it's on. We'll go over light and heavy cannons guns later, but suffice to say they do damage and that damage kills you.

    And like anything that kills you, it will involve flagging rules, the most draconian and confusing element of this game. However, with gunfire, it will check to see if any players are involved; if a ship is derelict, then you're free to fire at will without flagging issues. When players get involved, though, the entire ship and its crew will be considered to be "attacking" the target of the cannonfire. For example, I "fire port" (or "fire left" for you lubbers) and click you on land, it's going to say we're all attacking you; it will also notify that you're attacking us. That's because the action flags both parties simultaneously - we're practically attacking you, but it technically has you attack us, as well.

    This means you are committing a criminal action, which could result in murder counts for defending yourself. It also means you can get guard whacked if you call guards on pirates shelling you from off shore.

    -Grappling hooks have a similar issue, where jumping on a ship will attack everyone on that ship (and they will likewise all attack you back). You can grapple a ship and get the owner guardwhacked. It's stupid, hilarious sure, but stupid nevertheless.

    -Ships gain experience from killing mobs, players and sinking ships with the guns, but make sure you keep the ship deployed until you get the experience. Dry docking it early will prevent gaining XP. Also, your ownership settings are lost when drydocking (Officers who can control the ship, and Deckhands who can board freely).

    2. It's Not That Kind of Helm - Take It Off Your Head

    I am assuming that most people jumping on a ship have had some experience with ships on UO in the past. The first thing you will notice (as I sure as shit did after 18 years of this game) was that direction and momentum are now uncoupled. What this means is that the direction you're facing (direction of the ship) is no longer linked to the momentum or drive behind it. For example, in the past, if you were to say "Unfurl Sails" (or "Forward" for you dirt-hugging plebs), you would go in the direction of your bow - ie. straight ahead. That still remains true; however, if you were to turn, you would continue going in the direction of the bow - the momentum and the direction of the ship were linked - and so your heading would change accordingly.

    Now, however, if you were to go forward and then turn, your ship will point the bow accordingly, but will still carry on going in whatever heading it originally set out in, allowing the ship to spin independently of the movement of the ship. This may seem weird and confusing, but it allows for some interesting Battlestar: Galactica "Starbuck Maneuver" shit. A Star Citizen PSA example below:


    This is important to understand: not recognizing this on the run means losing ground to your pursuer who can cut you off while keeping guns facing you; not appreciating this in a straight up fight means they bring their guns about in a whirling dervishitstorm while moonwalking across the ocean. Whether you're escaping or putting up a fight (or both, to have the best chances of survival), learning this new system of sailing is paramount to being a better seaman.

    The next part of this knowing how to fight on a ship. Naval combat is, has, and will always be the ultimate expression of PvP in Ultima Online. Don't believe me? Some points to consider:

    -Crews make the difference. It is the ultimate crew vs. crew exercise, and there's no infinite running. Battles can quickly and instantly go from a 5v5 to a 5v0 when the fireball that was your ship nosedives into the ocean. Fifteen mages are cute and all but e-bolt rails only do much when all of them are stuck together on a raft with a handful of two-shotting lumberjacks aboard - no running from Destard to Covetous on the ocean.

    -On that note, grappling hooks are thing. Boarders are a real threat, and there is no escape on a ship. You cannot run. Preparing protocols to repel boarders is essential in the very real likelihood of your ship being invaded by pissed off dexxers (or pet balling tamers). Parry works. Poison works. Tames and summons work. It all works - brush up on your spells and skills, you'll be surprised what's useful.

    -Nevertheless, mages are exceptionally powerful at sea. Catapulting EVs is a throwback to the old days and preparing to dispel them is important. Fields also work, particularly on smaller ships. Sync dumps aren't as effective as you might think; while it might drop one person, potentially, the trade off might be having EVs beating your mages in the head while poison fields prevent cross heals and fires from a damaged ship interrupt further casts. One dead versus your entire crew being compromised, sent into chaos and being relegated to defense for the remainder of the fight.

    -In that same vein is the archer. Without having to run, mages and archers can cast and shoot as the ship moves, meaning the only thing stopping constant firepower trading from gunwale to gunwale is ship positioning.

    -That means leadership and coordination are imperative. "2-1-drop" doesn't cut it; spamming EVs don't win the battle. You will take fire that way, and you will sink. One trick ponies will come against counters with devastating consequences; diversity in tactics and flexibility in deployment is infinitely more important than a single plan of action or routine.

    In the end, techniques, spells, skills and items usually defined as inefficient, underpowered or complicated become life savers and game changers. Brush up.

    Cannonballs do significant damage to players as well, particularly with the Chain Shot upgrade. Double broadsides can easily deal upwards of 80 damage or more, therefore a combination of cannonfire and player attacks will quickly whittle down targeted enemies.

    3. Bigger Isn't Always Better - Wait...

    On the topic of cannons and doing damage, we have to discuss ships. There are two general spectrums (spectri?) of ships: the classic ships and the galleons. They generally fall in this fashion:

    <--Small Classics------------------Medium Classics-------------------Large Classics-->

    <---------Faster/Lower Offense/Lower Defense/Lower Cost------------------------Slower/Higher Offense/Higher Defense/Higher Cost-->

    <----------------------Tokuno Galleon----------------------------------------------------------Orcish Ships---Gargish Galleons-->

    As you can see, from a glance, this will give you an idea how your ship will fare against another. Note that dragon varieties have higher hulls as a bonus, but otherwise fall under their classic counterparts. Small ships are fast, nimble and can be dropped with one or two broadsides easily. Tokuno junks are actually faster than all other ships and includes heavy cannon (more on that later). Medium ships are slower than small ships but don't have the damage output of larger ships; they can't catch or outrun small and Tokuno ships and can't outgun or outlast larger classics and the other galleons. They are not recommended as they do neither job well.

    The difference between light guns and heavy guns is damage and accuracy. Heavy guns will do more damage (100 vs hulls base) but be less accurate (75% accuracy base) versus light guns (90% base accuracy and 50 hull damage). Reload speeds are based on the ship size, with small ships firing every 5 seconds and larger galleons up to a broadside every 15 seconds. Upgrades will help with accuracy (Improved Cannons) and hull damage (Improved Munitions).

    Leveling will also improve your ship effectiveness, with sails, guns and hull improving with each level as well as accuracy (1% per level) up to Level 10. Every third level will also unlock another upgrade slot. Another factor that increases is its scan distance. Using the command "Scan The Horizons" will bring up a small map to give you a kind of radar, allowing you to see other ships around you. The Tracking skill will also boost this as will the Crow's Nest upgrade. To stay ahead of your hunters, keep a weather eye on the horizon for more than just sea serpents, eh?

    Finally, the use-based Superb Sails will give you a boost of speed for about 10 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown. Be aware, however, that moving off your current heading will deactivate the speed but not start the cooldown; you can, however, rotate still unhindered. I wouldn't bother with Experience Boost as it's really just a waste.

    Other than that, the only other recommendation is to keep repair kits handy with boards (for the hull), ingots (for the guns), and cloth (for the sails) in case you take some cannonballs in the fray. This will get your ship, well, shipshape in a hurry. I will leave the details on that for you to figure out.

    So, whether you're a fisherman trying to figure out how you got sunk so quick or an enterprising pirate looking for a jumpstart on your seafaring career, I hope this helped ease some concern and persuade you to get your feet wet. Now holler at your squad and come join us - the water's fine!


    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2016
    Ludwig, Steele'Dish, shenron and 8 others like this.
  2. Mayor

    Mayor Apprentice

    Jul 27, 2016
    Jack skellington, Sally Regdoll, Sandy Clawz, Lock, Shock, Barrel, Bone daddy, oogie boogie man, DR Finkelstein
    Oh sure... hide sandy in the back...
    3 people like this.
  3. shenron

    shenron Journeyman

    Dec 26, 2013
    Hey! I know you guys! I've seen you guys on temple island haha you guys got me. Well played!
    5 people like this.
  4. Dewderonomy

    Dewderonomy Grandmaster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Brandon Van Raily
    5 people like this.
  5. Brann Snow

    Brann Snow Neophyte

    Oct 14, 2016
    Thanks. Good stuff.

    The flagging rules with cannons are ********. But I guess everyone knows that.

    Here's my "Fisherman's Bug Out" tactic I've been using lately when fishing for MIBs:

    I have three fishermen on a small classic ship with a crow's nest, macro fishing.
    One has 100 tracking and is scanning horizons every 10 - 15 seconds (including when fighting serpents).
    When I scan a ship that appears to be heading towards me, I start moving away, stop macros, recall home one at a time. The last one grabs the crow's nest. Can get all hands off in seconds. The I recall back to ship naked and empty to check safety ... might scuttle ship if I can't get away or easily dry dock.

    Similar tactic for doing the MIBs. The discipline is to Bug Out even if in the middle of fighting Spawn. Been working great so far.

    See any flaw in my tactic?

    I plan on getting galleon and doing pirating or pirate hunting some day ... get or join a crew. But for now I need money and vanquishing weapons ... which means MIBs MIBS and more MIBS. Haven't lost one since starting to use this tactic.
    5 people like this.
  6. Steele'Dish

    Steele'Dish Master

    Mar 14, 2014
    Thanks for the write up on this. A lot of great info!
    2 people like this.

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