Sea Battles

Sea battles are a very common form of confrontation. They will occur whenever enemy ships (at least one of them must have raised the Jolly Roger) attack your ships - either on the high seas or in a port. You don't have to wait until you are attacked. If you are patrolling or acting as a pirate, don't hesitate to open fire.

The Preparations

You should upgrade your ships at the shipyard of your choice, preferably your hometown's shipyard (see chapter 10). This will not only increase the number of weapon slots but also the stability of your ships. Every ship can be upgraded twice. There is a drawback though, for upgrading will reduce storage space.

Purchasing Weapons

The necessary weapons can be obtained from the weapon smith. Use the deck menu of your ship to inform yourself about the number of ballista, cannons or catapults you require. Then order them at the weapon smith's.

However, you will only get weapons for your ships from the weapon smith. Swords to equip your crew, which are desirable when boarding enemy ships, can only be obtained from the arms dealer at the tavern (see chapter 10). Note that buying weapons from an arms dealer is not always considered as illegal. In times of trouble, especially during sieges, the authorities won't mind if you buy some arms (possibly to protect the city).

Upgrading

Swords that are stored in your ships can be assigned to your crew members using the 'Crew' option from the ship menu.

Identifying the Enemy The Sight Radius

Your ships can only sight ships that are within a certain radius. Beyond that radius, all ships disappear in the fog. But you don't necessarily see all the ships within reach, sometimes you miss one of them.

The Attack Range

The attack range of your ships is much shorter than the sight radius. To engage in a sea battle, the enemy ship must be within range: Select your ship and then right click on the enemy ship! Your ship will sail towards it and then position itself.

The Beginning of a Sea Battle

The battle begins as soon as the two ships are close enough to each other. You will then be asked whether you want to fight manually or automatically.

Automated Battle

If you aren't bothered by the details, you can choose to automate the battle. The screen will be closed and you will be notified of the results after some time. The battle itself remains invisible, the ship disappears from the sea chart and cannot be selected until the end of the battle. A battle symbol on the chart will indicate the encounter. If you click on it, you will receive information on the battle - the names of the enemies, the names of the ships and information on any convoys involved.

If you don't react quickly when you are prompted, the game will assume an automatic battle if on the high seas and a manual battle when fighting in a port.

Manual Battle

If you want to get your hands dirty, the sea area view will appear. Control the speed of your ships, their exact movements and the direction and timing of your shots manually.

When several ships are selected, the strongest will attack first while the others remain in the background.

After the battle, a short message will appear, documenting the outcome. The view will then close and you are back to the sea chart.

It all depends on the Captain!

No matter what mode you choose, the captain's capabilities are decisive during sea battles. You might have been saving at the wrong end while you hired the captain. An experienced captain will improve the ship's speed by 10% and its manoeuvrability by 30%. And your hits are more effective, too - up to 30% more damage. Especially when the fighting ships are on par, the captain's skill becomes crucial.

Your crew's morale has an impact on the way they fight as well. A highly motivated crew's shots will be 10% more exact.

Ship Controls

During sea battles, the selection window will always display the deck. Here you can watch over the condition of your ship and its weapons and the status of your weapons (reloading/ready).

Automatic Navigation

If you prefer automatic navigation, select one of your ships and then right click on an enemy. Your ship will sail towards the enemy, taking the wind into consideration, and position itself at an appropriate angle. As soon as it gets into reach, it will start firing. This method can be used to control several ships at once. Drag a frame around them and then again use the right mouse button to specify a target.

Manual Navigation

You can do it all manually as well, using either the mouse or a mouse/keyboard combination (see appendix for keyboard shortcuts). Right click anywhere on the water to move the selected ships about. Navigating in this way is slightly more difficult because you have to consider the manoeuvrability and the speed of your ships as well as the direction of the wind (which can change during the battle).

Scroll the view to locate your enemies and then use the appropriate commands: Increase/decrease Sail Area

Click on the rope in the deck view to change the

■ J J " ¿^"^fc31- sail area and in so doing the speed of your ship.

You can choose 0. 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and full speed. The speed is furthermore influenced by the type of ship, the load and the captain.

Firing

Click on the button in the selection window or press the space bar to deliver a broadside against the enemy! The enemy has to be within reach. If your ship is caught between two enemy ships, it will fire on both sides.

Weapons and Tactics

Your success depends on whether you use your weapons strategically. Your weapons have different ranges and their effectiveness varies greatly depending on the distance. The striking force of some weapons is greater if you use the maximum range. A large catapult, for instance, that is fired from a close range won't inflict as much damage as a mortar

(Bombarde), but it is far superior when fired from long range. So if you're primarily using catapults, stay as far away as possible.

Ballista and mortars, however, will inflict more damage from close range. Use the manual controls to get as close as possible and then fire.

As you can see, it is advisable to equip your ships with many different types of weapons to ensure that your firepower is sufficient from any position.

The deck window will keep you informed about the damage that is inflicted on your ship. Damages up to 20% won't have noticeable consequences. However, any damage beyond this mark will result in clearly perceptible impediments: Speed and manoeuvrability of your ship deteriorate.

Damage to the Ship

If you are out of luck and are severely hit by a broadside, this is not necessarily a reason to surrender. The impact of the shot always depends on the distance to the enemy, the direction of the shot and the calibre that was used. At close range, the mortar is the most effective weapon, followed by the large ballista and the cannon. If you are firing from a distance, the large catapult is more effective than any other weapon; and cannons won't inflict more damage than a small catapult.

Damage to the Weapons

Extensive sea battles will leave their mark on your weapons. So don't be surprised if some of your weapon slots are empty all of a sudden. Listen to the background noise during the battle - the loss of a weapon has a very unique sound.

Losing Crew Members

Sailors can take a beating, but even the toughest are sometimes unable to survive a direct hit. You will often need some new crew members after a sea battle. If the number of crew members drops below the minimum during a sea battle, you will only just reach the next port. You won't be able to set sail again until you've hired some new crew members at the tavern. Even the captain is not invincible, but at least he's always the last one to die.

Boarding Enemy Ships

It is often advisable to capture an enemy ship instead of destroying it in order to add it to your own fleet. After all, new ships are expensive. If you select 'Board' from the crew menu, your ship will try to get as close as possible so that your crew members can board the enemy ship.

If a ship's crew is currently boarding an enemy ship, you no longer have control over that ship. You will have to wait until the fight is over and until you receive a message informing you of the outcome. If the ship is part of a group of ships you selected, you won't be able to control the group either.

Damage

As soon as your crew boards the enemy ship, both ships will stop moving. By left clicking, you can inform yourself about a ship's condition, its weapons (the more cannonballs you see in the ship list, the better), the size of the crew and the store of swords. Especially the latter are important, as boarding is a matter of hand to hand. So you should be able to estimate the enemy's strength. If you find that you are inferior, it might be advisable to abort the action and fight from a distance. Also pay attention to the morale of your crew: Highly motivated sailors will fight more courageously than a bunch of disillusioned loafers.

Taking over an Enemy Ship

The fight is over as soon as one of the crews has been eliminated. Any goods aboard the ship you captured will become part of your treasury as well.

Attacks on Convoys

Of course, convoys can also be involved in sea battles. The battle is always between the attacker and the armed ships of the convoy leader. If you are not the leader of the convoy, sit back and watch from a distance as he fights. If he is defeated, you may punish him with contempt.

However, if you are the leader, you will have to face the enemy with all your armed ships that are part of the convoy.

If the leader of the convoy is defeated, the attacker might try to capture the remaining ships, but only if their load is truly inviting. If the other ships are heavily armed or very fast, he probably won't consider it.

As soon as the convoy's orlogship is destroyed, the convoy is disbanded. The remaining ships will continue their voyage to the next port, but then they will go their own ways.

On the other hand, if the leader of the convoy is successful, the voyage will continue as usual, the only change being that the leader's recognition will have risen considerably. If any ships were captured, the leader furthermore receives much of the plunder.

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