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Any tips for a ship combat newbie?


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So after years of boarding I decided to see what's with that ship combat. And I keep losing because, I suspect, my strategy of "turn the left side cannons at the target, shoot, turn the right side cannons at the target, shoot" is a little faulty. Thing is, my whole naval experience consists of Obra Dinn the game and The Terror the TV series, so none of them fancy ship words make any sense. Google doesn't help much here, because it offers me Wikipedia pages where fancy naval words are explained using other fancy naval words. ;( I remember Boeroer posting some cheesy strat times ago, but didn't think to bookmark it then and now its buried under under sands of time and poorly working search keywords.

So any tips in simple, comprehensible words would be greatly appreciated. :)

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Basic tips:

1. You need to kit out your ship a bit.

2. Pick on easy ships first.

3. Make sure you're in optimal range for your cannons.

4. It helps to HOLD POSITION the action before firing your cannons - gives you a huge boost in accuracy.

5. It helps to SAIL FULL SPEED when both you and the ship are parallel to each other - gives the enemy a penalty to accuracy (do this while waiting to reload).

6. JIBE-ing to me doesn't seem worth it unless you have very slow reloading cannons, or you have cannons with very different optimal ranges on either side of your ship. Jibe gives the enemy a minor accuracy penalty (depending on your helmsman levle I think) but nothing compared to sailing at full speed with good sails.

7. In case you don't know, the action right after you JIBE you have a massive penalty to accuracy for the immediate next action. For that reason it's not worth firing right after a JIBE most of the time - spend that action sailing full speed, holding position (for accuracy boost in next action), or using "report to..." to deal with any events that have occured.

More advanced tips:

1. I like to use grapeshot the first few volleys - on lower-level ships ships, you can disable a lot of deckhands, helmsman and navigators. Surgeons on easy ships are very crappy so with fast cannons you can get the enemy to waste turns shuffling people into the ship's hold to be healed and then pummel their hull.

1a. Bonus: if in the middle of pumelling the ship you trigger events on the ship, and the AI sends sailors to deal with the events, sailors working on events count as "above-deck" even if they are normally below-deck (ship's hold, cannoneers, surgeon) so grapeshot will pummel them as well.

2. You don't need deck hands to deal with negative events - anyone will do. Just toss spare sailors up from your hold, or even cook or surgeons.

3. Cannoneer rank determines accuracy but also crucially how often they trigger negative events on the enemy when firing (which is 0% at rank 1, so getting up to rank 2 matters a lot). As such, if you find you can't even handle lower-level ships, it could help to do some world-map events or storms, just to get enough sailing experience so that your cannoneers get a rank under their belts.

 

For more detailed breakdown of how thigns work: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/227477-pillars-of-eternity-ii-deadfire/faqs/76599/ship-to-ship-combat

Edited by thelee
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You need two master cannoneers (on the sloop) and then you're set. you can hire one at the Kraken's Eye with BErath Blessing Points or just train some guys who only have a star with cannons (and nothing else). Those can become master cannoneers as well if you don't use them for something else.

I start with Iron Thunderer cannons - but Royal Bronzers or Vaillian Hullbreakers are better. Ship combat usually starts at a about 300 meters so the short range of the Hullbreaker isn't a problem most of times. 

With the Sloop you can use cannons with up to 6 turn of reload because:

  1. Fire
  2. Jibe
  3. Hold Position (gives extra ACC)
  4. Fire
  5. Jibe
  6. Hold Position
  7. Fire

Royal Bronzers have 6 turns reload speed and that's why they are especially good (because they can fire as often as Iron Thunderers but do way more dmg). Hullbreakers only need 4 turns to reload but only have 250 range (farther away: you will get some ACC malus). They do trememdous damage. Since you can't buy Royal Bronzers nor Hullbreakers everywhere I ususally end up with a mix of both. If you have Haeferic's Nose from an event: very good cannon as well. Keep it.

Cannons with under 6 turns reload are best for ships who don't jibe after shooting (because they are slow). Which I never use because it's a waste of money. Exception for me is the Hullbreaker. Obviously more cannoneers and more cannon ports would increase the chance of tiggering a special event per salvo - but on the other hand you will jibe so slowly that your rate of fire will be very low - so actually your are not causing more special events during a fight (only per salvo). Faster cannons without jibe will result in more special events - but the dmg is so low that it takes too long to take out the enemy ship (for my taste).

Master cannoneers have a high chance of causing some special effect on hit (man over board, knocking cargo loose, start fires, hull leaking and so on). As soon as such things happen the enemy captain will send crew to fix the problem instead of fighting you, loosing a turn. Often ships get into a stupid "turn left-turn-right-uhhhm, what to do?" modus because you shower them with special on-hit effects. 

Sometimes (very seldomly) I die when taking on the really hefty ships because my cannoneers screw up the first shots - but most of the time my sloop just sinks them because they can't do a lot of stuff while they have to send crew here and there to fix stuff.

At some point I will buy the Red Dream hull in Dunnage because it makes you sturdy as heck - you can then affort to screw up a little because you are sturdy like a galleon but with a tiny hull (fast jibes and turns, low chance to get hit). :) Then later some better sails (like Stormwind or even Goulskin or whatever).

If you can't buy a master cannoneer right away you can train your cannoneers in easy fights against such wussies like Beggar Winfrut and such. They are exceptionally weak - and all what your guys need is some practice in order to increase their skill. 

Nowadays I don't use any other ship than the sloop. I used to buy a Voyager in the past because it's fun with Flamethrowers on the stern - but the sloop is very good as well (because of the low chance to get hit and the fast turning) and costs nothing, so...

Ah - if you jibe and the enemy is about to fire: don't hold position! You will be easier to hit then. Instead go full speed (parallel to the enemy ship). Often the enemy will not fire then but hold position and wait until you stop going full speed. You can do so until your cannons reloaded and then just fire  "from the hip" without holding your position first. The chance will be lower but the enemy ship was holding its position which should give you some accuracy. If you ar lucky your cannoneers will trigger a special event and the enemy ship won't want to fire at you anymore but send crew. Time to jibe, hold and fire. :)

 

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Thanks a lot guys, with the help of mixed tactics just dropped Well-weathered Cormio  (Beggar With Fruit wasn't around) :biggrin: Although he did land a few hits on me and I won basically by facing the side of his ship with only one cannon where I had two and going full speed-hold-shoot. Tried that jibe thing, still can't quite get it but ah well, it's just the first battle where I more or less knew what I was doing and with a crew straight outta Port Maje to boot.

A question though -- how do I know if the enemy is about to fire? By counting turns since their last salvo or is there any other way to tell? Because that bastard always chose to fire right after my hold position. :getlost:

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39 minutes ago, bugarup said:

A question though -- how do I know if the enemy is about to fire? By counting turns since their last salvo or is there any other way to tell? Because that bastard always chose to fire right after my hold position. :getlost:

Usually they hold position before firing. I don't pay much attention to their cannons and their reload cycle. I just know that when they hold position they will most likely fire on the next turn. 

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19 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Usually they hold position before firing. I don't pay much attention to their cannons and their reload cycle. I just know that when they hold position they will most likely fire on the next turn. 

In addition, you should see a reload indicator on the enemy's side, but there's a display bug since forever where if it happens as the first action of a new turn, it doesn't show up.

It's no coincidence that it seems that they fire at you right after hold position - if you're sailing full speed, they will frequently just wait until you stop moving to fire (not always, which is why it's good practice to move at full speed). This is still very good, because many enemy ships have a Dyrwoodan whatever-Hog, which reloads very quickly (3 rounds) which is its sole saving grace, so if you are able to use movement to slow down their rate of fire to you rown rate of fire (which may be slower but more powerful), you're still doing good.

 

At lower levels where your captain rank is low enough that you're not constantly going first, you can abuse this AI a bit. When the enemy is first to act, you can try just sailing the entire turn, and as your last action, hold position. They'll have been waiting for you to stop sailing the entire time. But since you're last to act, the enemy won't have a chance to attack. In the following turn, there's a chance you might be first to go. Then you can fire. If you're even luckier, this will cause a negative event or cause injuries, which will delay the enemy's attack action even further as the AI tends to deal with these things at a higher priority than attacking.

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3 hours ago, Hallacson said:

You can easily avoid all ship battles and board if its necessary. But since their loot is good and your crew's morale force you, my advice is always with the boarding.

I boarded them all the time before and decided to try something new. :)

 

1 hour ago, thelee said:

nothing that a bunch of rice and lager for them to eat and drink won't fix. just like in real life? :)

Or fruit (that you get I imagine by raiding orchards on those islands you visit like a true pirate!) and water which cancels each other, but then you give them some lager sometimes and it's all good.

Anyway, I'm getting the hang of it and what do you know, ship sinking is actually fun ! :biggrin: Unfortunately I couldn't sink any of those fatass armored galleons yet, at least with a sloop. Loaded a save with a better equipped dhow and sank that pain-in-the-ass galleon full of fighters and goldpacts, albeit with some luck since few lucky shots with events stunlocked AI so bad it never even fired on me.  Also found out that on slaver ships only the captain has the level that's on the ship and the rest of crew are pushovers so that red skull means nothing. Would have saved me much time dodging that prick who always spawns and beelines to you when you try to get to Neketaka for the first time. :getlost:

 

Unfortunately current weather has fantastic synergy with Deadfire's attempts to fry my video card so I'm postponing experiments with ship sinking until better, colder times.

 

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