This guide contains a number of general tips aimed at players with some experience who want to improve their ship combat. Whether they are steering, manning cannons, or helping in other ways, these tips will help them make better tactical choices.
Experienced players crewing a ship often make choices, or mistakes, of which they do not realize the importance. If you really want to win naval battles, you would be doing yourself a big favor by reading this guide.
This short guide does not cover things outside of the scope of what I just said, so don’t expect specific tips on how to be good at boarding ships, how to shoot cannons, or which weapons to use.
The following terms are expected for you to know:
- Fortressing: anchoring, or reducing sails to a minimum, and holding a position with the ship. The ship can be rotated with the steering wheel so that cannons can be aimed and fired most effectively at any other ship approaching your defended area.
- Third-party/third-partying: When two ships (or groups in any game) are focused on fighting each other, they are both left vulnerable to attacks from a third ship, which can attack one or both of the groups at the correct time to finish them off while they are weak and too occupied to react.
Dealing with oppressive mortar shots
Does a mortar from a bomb vessel put you at a disadvantage? If you are in a brig, try “fortressing” under an icy bridge arch for protection. If you are in a junk, try to get behind them, or just circle close enough to be inside the mortar range.
Preparing for strong players’ rush
Strong players often try to rush other ships. Be prepared for this. They may especially be using a junk ship if rushing. Junk ships have a weak hull, and if you prepare an explosive barrel or two in advance of their approach, you can often beat them instead! This manoeuvre requires as many people to man cannons and the steering wheel as possible, as strong players may turn sharply once they get close. You could also use an anti-cannon or trap shot, but it will lead to a more drawn-out fight which you may be less skilled at facing.
Making the best use of the bomb vessel
The mortar on the bomb vessel has a very long range. Crews usually have plenty of heavy cannonballs, so you should be trying to hit other ships with them, starting from far away. Don’t forget to try and hit ships on the other side of the islands when they think they are safe. The exception to this is if you are trying to approach quietly.
Different ships necessitate varying degrees of steering
The 3 ships should be driven differently. Crews should be intending to steer it into manoeuvres like these and not the wrong ones. Similarly, those on deck should be expecting these manoeuvres from the steerer and should prepare cannons accordingly. Junk ships should be used for quick relocating, circling other ships, chasing behind, or surprise ramming. The brig ship should be used for “fortressing” and a continued barrage of cannon shots while steering carefully around fights to manage the tanking of damage taken.
The bomb vessel should prioritise the mortar cannon almost all of the time. Where possible, the barrage from a safe distance, 3rd party close ship fights from afar, and spiral into fights. Steering for other cannons, or like a brig, will mean you lose mortar angle, which will put you at a serious disadvantage. Don’t sail away from a junk ship. You won’t get away.
When should you use special cannonballs
Be more familiar with special cannonballs and use them. Anti-sail is more useful than you think. Slowing down a ship makes it much easier to be hit by another ship, and crews frequently overlook sail damage for an extended period of time. Anti-cannon is great to use while circling the enemy ship, or against a brig in most situations. Trapshot is rarer and should not be used by those who are less likely to land shots. However, it can really mess up ships that are in the process of manoeuvring near you. Shooting it from the front cannons of a junk ship at a fleeing enemy is also useful.
When to avoid using special cannonballs
When a fight is becoming dangerous to the hull health of both ships involved, players should be less inclined to use anything but heavy cannonballs. Quickly getting as many holes in the enemy will be the difference that puts the enemy into a disastrous feedback loop of everyone repairing the ship without anyone dealing damage in return, or sailing the ship. This also makes them vulnerable to boarding raids.
Go get yourself some better cannonballs
If a ship is getting close to you and you are manning cannons with just normal cannonballs or inappropriate cannonballs, it is almost always worthwhile to let someone else holding better cannonballs take over, or get a better one yourself. Don’t worry about not firing back, better cannonballs will make up for the time lost. You’d have to get better cannonballs at some point anyway, so why not now?
Anchoring at a medium distance from a bomb vessel is a bad idea. The bomb vessel can quickly turn on you and easily mortar your ship until you have begun moving quickly again. At that point, they will be focusing more on you since you will be a weak target. In fact, anchoring, in general, is not a great idea. It takes the luxury of time and organisation to raise the anchor quickly. Where possible, reduce the sails in order to stop, or just move slowly and circle your target.
Don’t mess up emergency braking
As you know, the slower your ship is, and more so if anchored, the faster it turns (yes, this is the opposite of real-life ships). This is why sometimes, though it should be avoided whenever possible, it can be useful to have an emergency brake or “e-brake”. This is when the anchor is dropped on a ship with the intention that the captain will then enact as sharp a turn as possible and quickly have the ship moving in the opposite direction.
If your ship is “emergency braking”, the crew should be well aware in advance and be ready to raise the capstan quickly together. However, you can also get it up too quickly, which can mean the ship doesn’t turn as sharply as it could. Be aware of this and jump off the capstan if you think the crew is too fast. Once the capstan is up, the sails should be re-angled immediately.
Make use of the sails!
If you are not often adjusting the sails, you are playing the game wrong. Re-angling the sails to move faster into fights makes a big difference. Similarly, for getting out of fights or repositioning. Reducing sails to keep a good angle for longer makes a huge difference. (Best done with the back sail first, so the steerer can easily manage this). If you are on deck and notice your steerer is trying to make a tricky turn between islands, run to the sails to slow the ship so that it can turn with the correct sharpness to not crash.
The same for sharp turns in general. During the end of a Battle Royale game, circling can be so tight that you may want to have even more than 1 sail open all the way. Having only half a sail open at the front can be useful then, and the steerer may be too occupied to manage that himself, so do help him out. Steering AND managing sails at the same time can indeed be done by one person. But doing both well is impossible. So instead of standing around when there isn’t much to do, always check the sails are angled and open appropriately. And obviously, when you hear the wind chime, that means the wind is changing, so go ahead and re-angle the sails!
Ships in Blazing Sails are analogous to classic examples of differential equations that are solved by integrating with respect to time. Gaining experience with timing is key to being a good player. Timing means knowing when in a battle to expect the enemy crew to be focusing on repairs, reloading, respawning, or boarding. If you have a better idea of the water level of both ships and how quickly they are filling, you have the upper hand as all crew decisions will be based on that. Once you do, you can know what the enemy will do in advance and make the correct choices to win.
For example, if you are using your own junk ship to attack and board an enemy junk ship, you should be actively thinking about going back to your own ship and watching how the water level on your own ship may be increasing at an accelerating or decelerating rate. Junk ships have very weak hulls, so if you have already done a lot of damage and slowed the repairs on the enemy ship, they are unlikely to recover. Continuing to stay on board their ship and kill them will not make much of a difference and can easily lead to your ship having a water level and sink rate which you will be too late to recover from! This exact scenario very commonly leads to good crews losing.
Two ships Fighting is like two tanks of water filling up. They start filled at a certain level (hopefully empty) and have a rate of fill depending on holes and pump usage, and a rate of change of fill rate, dictated by how much damage is being dealt with/how much repair is being done. These are 3 variables that will affect when a ship (or tank) is full. Solving this equation is like trying to decide whether you can afford to take your crew off of killing the enemy’s repairers and send them back to do your own repairs.
And that concludes this Blazing Sails guide. Help us improve this guide by leaving your suggestions in the comment section below.