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Seafaring and Naval Combat

#1
Some things I've noticed missing, not working accurately or straight up imbalanced. I'll try and keep this updated. To begin with, consider the following Outfittings for ships, as these are the general archetypes for ships that I will be considering in this post:


Designed to be a harvesting ship, the Merchant is all about farming doubloons at sea. Small bonuses to Hull and Sails gives it a bump towards survival alongside a Movement Speed increase. The larger Doubloons Earned bonus means getting the resources to fund larger ships and a fleet, if necessary, while the Hold Capacity being doubled means less time backtracking to town.


The pinnacle of defense, the Dreadnought is a fortress at sea, able to weather any storm its inhabitants throw at it. It maintains a slightly stronger Hull, better suited on Carrack or Galleon-class ships for the larger return on its bonus, with Sails and Guns shorn up to be as high as most ships' hulls. This means they can maintain their speed and accuracy for longer as they tank more and more shots, while also keeping boarders at bay. The large bonus to Hull Repair means it can soak up broadsides while it repairs in the middle of a fight, dishing out death with its larger array of guns and winning through attrition.


The Fisherman is an obvious choice for the discerning wrecker and ocean-faring trawler. Reinforced Hull and Sails increases survivability alongside a small Movement buff. Spyglass Search and Fishing Special Chance increases helps finding fishing locations and keeping a lookout for pirates. Not meant to fight, but to fish, this outfitting is best suited for Small and Medium ships; anything bigger will find itself vulnerable in a prolonged engagement.


Runners earn their name by doubling down on speed and survival. Stronger Sails and a boost to repairing them means they will not fear boarding from slowing down, and their boost to Movement Speed is considerable on the proper sailing vessels. An additional bonus to Spyglass Search means keeping an eye out for ambushes and navigating dangerous waters quickly and accurately. While any ship benefits from a boost to speed, slower lumbering ships will find themselves playing to their weaknesses; instead, Runners should be on Small and Medium ships to take advantage of the percentage-based bonus to speed, and double-down on sailing upgrades to make them a blur on the blue.


Where the Merchant specializes in doubloons and storage, the Fisherman seeks to focus on fishing spots and treasure, and the Runner excels at speed and agility on the water, the Explorer strikes a compromise between the three. Increased speed provides survivability and Doubloons, Fishing Chance and Spyglass buffs keep the Explorer ship flexible on the water, able to profit from whatever circumstance it finds itself in. It does not specialize in the way the other three archetypes do, but will never find itself without a bonus when it comes to killing monsters and ships at sea. It will, however, find itself without much in the way of teeth, and so a Medium or Large ship would be best suited to make up for its lack of direct killing and personal defense potentials.


The jack-of-all-trades, Privateers are designed to seek out ships and take them as prizes. A buff to both Gun and Sails means it will keep its firepower and speed up to the task, utilizing maneuvering to avoid damage. Cannon Accuracy and Movement Speed bonuses emphasize the skill-oriented design of the Privateer, with all the ability cooldowns reinforcing the ship's reliance on a wide array of tools to accomplish the job. Additionally, a Spyglass Search increase aids the hunter in finding its prey. Where it gains bonuses in multiple fields, it sacrifices specialty, relying more on the captain's judgment, seamanship and leadership to win the day. These ships are traditionally smaller and faster craft, likely Medium and Large ships, though fast hit-and-run Small ships are also useful in this endeavor, particularly acting as a hunter-killer squadron.


All about getting up close and personal, the Raider is meant to close the game, taking volleys on the chin in order to deploy boarders in hand-to-hand combat. Increased Hull and Sails keeps the ship from worrying about a pesky broadside or two, and the bonuses to Crew emphasizes using NPCs as the bread-and-butter of the approach. The Raider is likely best suited for fast moving ships to get in and drop its complement of marines off, but with larger ships comes larger crews, meaning more NPCs to benefit from such buffs, using stronger crewmembers to defend the deck from boarders, fight at range and attack the enemy ship.


Built for damage at range, the Destroyer beefs up the ship's dakka and ability to maintain it. Higher Guns and Guns Repair time means keeping accuracy up and keeping boarders from damaging the guns to get close, forcing them to target Sails, instead. This means a Destroyer is suited for Large and Carrack-class ships where the higher Hulls and Sails means it can tank damage and dish out a punishment with more cannons, which will be extremely powerful, while potential boarders attempt to drop their Sails. It gets bonuses to Reload times and Greater Ability cooldowns, as well, emphasizing the "hit hard, hit often" approach of the outfitting.


1. Misleading Statistics, Part 2:

The item descriptions and percentages listed are not clear.


Note the upgrade slot (I have two, one with +50% and one with +100% boarding chance): it says +150%. This is 150% increase of the base chance to board (as well as any other statistic, for that matter) and not a straight addition to the statistic, which is why +150% still means I have a 1-in-3 chance of failure (despite having two entire upgrade slots dedicated to boarding - more on this later). This causes a few problems: first, it isn't easy to determine just how effective a particular upgrade is, and if it's worth slotting/investing in (more on this later); and two, ascertaining the actual result/effectiveness is math that most folks simply aren't going to want to do in their head (again, when trying to weigh add-on pros/cons). Additionally, not all upgrades follow this formula:



Note that the +40% Spyglass Search Distance from the Privateer Outfitting (plus another 20% from a separate upgrade) gives a straight addition to the stats, not a percentage of a percentage. See that the stats page (right) shows 60.9%: .9% from crafting bonus and +60% from my ship's upgrades. The same applies to the Fishing Special Chance and Doubloons Earned Bonus.

We need a consistent approach to the upgrades for ease of access to players who might otherwise be overwhelmed with such a system (there are a few in my guild - a pirate guild - who already go cross-eyed at all these numbers). I also recommend adjusting the upgrades so that they are simple additions rather than percentages: a +25% upgrade adds 25% to the current stat instead of adding 25% of x%. This will keep things consistent and easy to understand for everyone, and allow people to better appreciate the differences in upgrades. The non-percentage stats (ship speed, cooldown timers, cannon damage, etc.) are understandable, however, since there's no confusion of how a percentage will interact with a non-percentage statistic.

Commentary: While I have little issue figuring these things out, I guarantee most people will struggle. The more people struggle with this, the more frustrating it becomes, and the less folks utilize it (aka, get out to sea). This is for their benefit to make it accessible as well as for my own as without them, my guild will get plenty bored sailing the blue by ourselves lol.


2. Underwhelming Upgrades:

As I mentioned above, the upgrades provide a percentage of the ship's current stats, they do not add to it. This leads to situations like the one below; note the Hull Repair Amount (10.2%) between the pictures:





It's adding 10% of the 10% instead of to the 10%. This bonus is coming from the Carpentry Station Specialty Item. This means an upgrade is giving a ~1% increase in effectiveness. (Note: This particular example is outdated, as it is an older picture and thus this specific upgrade might be altered; that being said, the percentages and how they function remain the same. In our case, the bonus is now 50% increase to Hull Repair amount, which again is only a 5% increase. Keep in mind this is a coveted upgrade slot that can be better suited to other bonuses). This is extremely underwhelming; while there is an appreciation for nickel-and-diming your upgrades to get certain stats extremely high (ie, more repair percentages/higher hull health for tank builds, more damage/accuracy for gunship builds, higher boarding/crew damage for melee builds, etc.), the iterative increases are paltry and barely worth it for some.

For example, when it comes to outfittings that directly affect ship health (Hull, Sails and Guns) along with repair amounts, these bonuses (along with other upgrades) can become extremely useful, as repairing is percentage based. If you have 2,000 HP with a 10% HP bonus and repair 20% in a go, that's 440 HP recovered (2000 HP + 10% HP for 2200 HP, 20% of 2200 HP is 440 HP), easily a broadside from most ships. However, if you have a larger ship with more HP, say in the 5500 range, that 20% repair becomes 1,100 HP - more than twice what a smaller ship will repair, and in turn about 2-3 broadsides worth of damage healed.

This is good. This tank build is a legitimate strategy for naval combat; more HP means a larger ship, by default, sacrificing speed and maneuverability while presenting a larger target (something that actually matters in PvP and PvM at sea). Repairing also means stopping for a considerable amount of time, either in relative safety or with enough defenses to overcome the damage dealt with the repair in progress. In this regard, the system works (though as mentioned above, not as well as it could), but for the other builds, it begins to fail: gunship builds designed to do massive amounts of damage do not see an equally potent increase in effectiveness with similar upgrades, likely because of the bonuses being percentages of percentages. Crew upgrades and damages are negligible, and then there's the boarding conundrum. Note the following:


The current Destroyer outfitting is providing Accuracy bonuses instead of Damage, but note the increase in the ship's natural 6.8% Damage increase. The base is 40-60 Damage; with the Destroyer's assumed bonus of 15% plus the Auxiliary Cannon's bonus of 15%, that'd take the combined Damage Bonus to 36.8%, or 54.7-82.1 Cannon Damage. This is a difference of 15-22 Damage per cannonball over no upgrades whatsoever. While the damage may sound significant (on a large ship, for example, that'd be an average combined total of 1,035 Damage vs 801 Damage, excluding misses from RNG and maneuvering), 200 total damage (which would be dispersed to Hull, Sails and Guns) is replacing an increase to Crew perks, PvMing bonuses, Ability cooldowns, repair amounts, increased ship health, and so on. This is doubling-down on damage and still only eeks out a 200 damage lead. This damage bonus would be even smaller with smaller ships, though more powerful with larger ones; however, assuming one shot from each gun misses (accuracy being forfeited for raw damage, as well), that's only 685 Damage vs 535 Damage (difference of 150).

I believe changing how upgrades are not only displayed (as in point 1) but also how they affect your ship will allow for more obvious adjustments and customizations to players' ships, providing more meaningful bonuses and sacrifices. If I see dev responses regarding this, I'll delve into each individual upgrade with balance suggestions, but it's time consuming and I don't wanna' spin wheels otherwise.

Note: I'm not saying a current +50% Repair Amount should become an addition of +50% to the current stats; the upgrades would need to be adjusted to provide the correct, balanced buff. A 50% Repair Amount bonus now (which would become something like +5% to the stat) may be, instead a +10% Repair Amount bonus (which would directly add to the current stat).


3. Crew Health & Healing:

Crew NPCs are bullet sponges, which is fine. The problem is they don't appear to regenerate health at all, and when they come back from being incapacitated redlined, it can take an atrocious amount of time to get them back to combat readiness. A rapid health regeneration while out of combat/flagging would be a welcomed addition - doesn't have to be instant, but something pretty quick to get back playing would be welcome. I imagine if this was launch, having to stop playing at sea for 5-10 minutes (or more) healing your party would grow old quick.

Note: This isn't a suggestion to make Crew regenerate health or rapidly recoup from incapacitation in combat; instead, outside of battle, a passive bonus to get health back up without spending fifteen minutes bandaging or cycling below deck/ready commands. It also avoids having to cycle 10-20 minute Crew Readiness timers to heal your team.


4. Unused Statistics & Attributes:

There are a few statistics and elements that aren't being properly utilized.


The first is Hold Capacity. There are Outfittings and Specialty Items that specialize in this, however with the ability to recall on and off the ship, there is no reason to keep booty aboard. Should you be attacked and face inevitable destruction, having secured your loot safely any time you get it means recalling off with your life and equipment intact; better to save some than lose it all if the ship cannot be saved. If recalling onto and off a ship was inhibited in someway, with significant cooldowns (can only recall off of a ship rune once every 20-30 minutes), or outright prohibited, then having a safe place to store all your precious loot would be massively important. As it stands, the Hold Capacity does very little for the average fisherman/sailor.

The next is Cannon Range. It is currently 12 tiles for every ship, but giving players the option to switch the cannons out for different cannon types would make for a lot of different customization. Cannon upgrades could be made by players, for example, instead of found, and could include:
Culverins (Default Cannons) (12 Range, 3s Reload time per gun, 40-60 Damage, 60% Accuracy, 4 Volleys)
Long Nines (14 Range, 5s Reload time per gun, 30-50 Damage, 65% Accuracy, 3 Volleys)
• Carronades (9 Range, 2s Reload time per gun, 50-70 Damage, 55% Accuracy, 4 Volleys)
Swivel Guns (6 Range, 1s Reload time per gun, 15-30 Damage, 50% Accuracy, +25% Damage to Crew, 360-degree firing arc, 2 Volleys)


5. Misleading Button Hues:

The repair buttons show up grey when a healthbar needs repairing, but blue when it's at 100%. This one should be obvious lol.



6. Picking Locked Ship Holds:

This one is a bit ridiculous. We tried picking a locked ship hold earlier and it was above and beyond a royal pain in the ass. We used 120 Lockpicking and GM Valorite lockpicks, and still only had a 7.5% chance to succeed. In PvM, holds automatically unlock, allowing the victorious players to grab their (ill-gotten) booty. In PvP, however, the ship hold stays locked. We ran a macro to see how long it took to pick a ship's hold and what it cost: ~14-15 minutes, 245 valorite lockpick charges.

That's how long someone has to stand on an enemy ship that they just violently seized, with holes blown through the sides of their ships, repair resources being spent and ammunition being reloaded, who knows how much was risked in the boarding action... and then they need a legendary lockpicker and a quarter of an hour running a last gump button macro on loop. This isn't fun. This isn't exciting or engaging for anyone at all. This isn't even practical; it's a quarter of an hour standing around on a ship, waiting for alts to recall on (and giving them over 15 minutes to assemble a crew to do so). If ships' holds are to remain locked, they should be accessible to an expert (80ish) lockpicker, nothing more; an end game lockpicker with valorite tools should be able to pop these open first try every single time.

Arguably, if a ship is abandoned or the crew killed, it should auto-unlock like in PvM. I can understand the ship hold remaining locked in case someone boards the ship and quickly tries looting the hold before jumping back on their own ship (although, in my opinion, that'd take coordination to perform). However, since this isn't possible outside of boarding to kill the enemy, I see no reason the ship remains locked up without an alternate means of engaging the hold (using powder kegs to blow it open, for example, or lowering the Hull to <20%, etc.).


7. Dockmasters & Bank Access:

I recommend dockmasters giving bank access as a banker would. Ships are likely to be taken out for hours at a time, accumulating doubloons and lots of loot. It would be a reasonable QoL request that you can access bankers at the dockmasters so that folks can restock while aboard their ship and put away certain materials. The potential arguments that this is "too convenient" or "not dangerous enough" is countered by:

You can already recall off of the ship and back on. This would encourage more use (and potentially a motion towards) of ships sailing their goods back to shore instead of hot dropping them at a house somewhere or a bank in town guards.

Ships are grey and attackable anywhere they are afloat, including at the end of a pier. This means a ship that comes to bank at a dock is open season, and encourages blockading and ambushes at frequented docks. Players will not want to sail back to a dockmaster and bank at every opportunity, no more than they already do, especially if known pirates are operating in the area.

This would simply allow restocking and resupplying bulk goods conveniently aboard the ship while hauling away chests and bags of loot from a long excursion, meaning these ships are floating pinatas until they reach the dockmasters (high risk operations).


8. Press-Ganging (Begging Crewmembers):

This is a genius system that I really like in theory, but currently the numbers are a bit off. To get the most basic, low-level crew you need 70 Begging to attempt. For two-star members, you need 80. I tried with 80 and succeeded routinely with the 1-star Crewmembers, but failed every single time against the 2-star members. Additionally, you only get one chance per crewmember a day; if they decline your offer, you cannot attempt them again. Additionally, Begging offers nothing more than 5 gold (flat rate, regardless of skill) from an NPC, meaning that it's essentially useless other than for recruiting crewmembers. While I'd recommend adding in some Begging-related semi-rares as a reward for higher levels, this suggestion is specifically for press-ganging.

I suggest that you can start begging 1-star crew at 50 Begging. The rate at which you can succeed when you are at the minimum requirement is close to 0 based on my attempts, so you would still need upwards of 60 to be successful in just getting 1-star crewmembers. Then at 60, two-star; 70, three-star (although their spawn rates would likely be rare); and 80, four-star crewmembers. This would mean at 90 Begging, you'd be able to reliably recruit four-star crewmembers (not currently available) when you find them.

On that note, there are a lot of interesting islands and POIs that would be perfect for 3- and 4-star Crewmembers to spawn on occasion. Dilapidated lighthouses, ruined farmsteads, abandoned sea forts, even some of the fishing spots (like the raft and sinking dinghy) could occasionally spawn a 3- or 4-star crewmember. This would make recruiting crewmembers a little more useful than it currently is, as spending the time to grind up 80 Begging just to get 1-star crewbies is simply not worth the effort. That time is better spent grinding ships and getting 3- and 4-star crew members from PvMing ships.


9. Loot Tables for Holds:

Currently the drop rates for crew members and upgrades feel woefully underwhelming. Since the last wipe I've sunk my fair share of ships:

In that time I've received a lot of might-or-less weapons, a handful of 2-star crewmembers, and two upgrades. I have received a few skill scrolls and one or two orbs, but from what I've gathered this isn't as common as normal PvMing in a dungeon. With the risk of ships being sunk and all upgrades being lost permanently, even gathering enough useful upgrades to begin with will be a chore at the current rate; to lose them all and face the task of rebuilding your upgraded ship is depressing. I recommend boosting the drop rates so these upgrades can be gathered and traded more readily to customize ships and incentivize players to go out and fight in them; otherwise, those of us who have the time and interest in building up the ships will become impossibly powerful and unable to be deterred with any likelihood by the droves of vanilla ships on the seas.

I'm not privy to drop rates, but increasing the rates slightly for everything from smalls to galleons would be useful. Also giving boosts to drop rates for things like crew supplies and lesser abilities for small and medium ships; regular abilities and specialty items for large ships and carracks; and greater abilities and outfittings for carracks and galleons would be interesting. Likewise giving drop rate increases to ships by type would make it more exciting to hunt specific kinds of ships, like raiders dropping boarding-related upgrades and merchants dropping doubloon-related upgrades, or simply merchants increasing the rate at which regular abilities drop on top of their normal drop rates while raiders increase the rate at which crew supplies drop. Examples:

-Small Pirate Ship: +0% drop rate; +5% chance to drop Crew Supplies or Lesser Ability (Small Ship); +5% chance to drop Regular Ability (Pirate).
-Large Merchant Ship: +10% drop rate; +5% chance to drop Regular Ability or Specialty Item (Large Ship); +5% chance to drop Specialty Item (Merchant).
-Ghost Galleon: +20% drop rate; +5% chance to drop Greater Ability or Outfitting; +5% chance to drop Theme upgrade (Ghost).

Something along those lines, or simply increase the rates at which things drop by enemy/ship type, such as:
• Ship size increases drop rate % increase (0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% increase);
• Fishermen (+0%); Explorers (+3%); Merchants (+5%); Pirates and Raiders (+7%); Ghosts and Orc Reavers (+10%);

These chances could also apply to the loot quality, as well. I'm sure something like this already exists in the code, but at the rate people are likely to lose ships (and thus their upgrades, including crew), I feel the access to get them should be increased so that players can reliably trade, grind or purchase such upgrades if they want to get out on the sea. Otherwise I fear people will give up on the seafaring elements if they cannot get upgrades readily and thus feel underpowered at all times.


Some things I want to point out as particularly wonderful additions to the naval mechanics, aside from the obvious customizations options:

1. Crew NPCs are tanks, but players are not. This means in PvP, combat is still fluid and not as grindy as PvMing at sea.

2. No EVs/BSes or fields. While fields I tend to appreciate, catapulting EVs to auto-win a fight renders any custom naval mechanics meaningless.

3. Unable to Repair on the move. This makes for some tense moments where a captain has to balance trying to catch a breather to repair or tank shots and repair in the middle of a broadside. I think with various ship classes and customizations we'll see a wide variety of approaches to affecting repairs in the middle of combat. By extension, being unable to sail to shore and quickly dock means combatants have to plan several steps in advance to get out of the water safely; abandoning ship can be quite the ordeal, and a treacherous one at that. This has been removed, and ships are currently able to repair on the go. I'm still testing to see if this is good or bad for ship combat balance.
 
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#3
Updated. Removed several of the issues that have since been addressed and/or clarified. Added some new issues, primarily with stats and buggy add-ons.
 
#4
HOO-WEE IT'S A BIGGUN!

Updated. Removed issues I believe have been addressed/fixed. Added balancing recommendations to Small and Medium ships.

Added boarding change suggestions as well. Talked about some bugs and gump issues. Lockpicking ship holds is a big problem.

Reemphasized need for percentage increases to be clearer and more pronounced for customization benefits.
 
#5
I tried the ships out last night. Got a Carrack, found an NPC ship, saw grey within seconds. I had no crew (was waiting on timer) so they all targeted me. I wasn't able to even recall back to the ship afterwards as they were parked next to me and would just kill me again as soon as I reacalled in. Yeah, orcs are not the greatest sailors, in fact I think we've only ever had one named ship, The Chugg'rnaut, that was commanded by someone who was from The Booty Pirates.
Guess we'll have to hire your crew to pillage our enemies (which I think is great for RP!)
 
#6
I've removed the ship size balances and some other things since they've been addressed in recent patches.

Added dockmasters acting as banks; Begging crew member fixes; and adjusting loot tables for crew/upgrades as they feel extremely rare for something so easily and permanently lost.

Edited content to reflect recent changes and left others in (like underwhelming upgrades) as some still feel grossly inferior than they should.
 
#7
Bump. Reemphasizing the need to boost drops on ships. Currently an adept (2-star) crewmember is all I'm getting, and even then, rarely. No upgrades in 100,000 doubloons worth of ships sunk, including at least 5 carracks and two galleons. I think in 300,000 doubloons I got about 2-3 upgrades, one of which was a metal color upgrade. These upgrades are random and will be permanently lost when sunk; they need to drop with a regularity to trade/sell while also being used/destroyed in action.

Begging also needs to be addressed regarding pressing crews. Currently it requires 70 Begging to get 1-star crew NPCs, a skill that is a burden to train and useless outside of pressing. Additionally, this skill only helps with 1-to-3 star crewmembers, making it less appealing once you get crew at sea.
 
#8
Some solid suggestions in this old thread from my dear old friend Brandon.

- Upgrade drops are too low. Barrier to entry to Seafaring already very high.. in time the water will be empty after everyone has lost a ship or two that took them months to build up. Best ships will be whoever no-life grinds NPCs the longest, rather than skill of play. (Then they'll get disconnected and lose that ship as well and stop playing).

- Banking from dock master. I currently am facing muleing 250k of doubloons from my house to the bank... Why?

- Haven't seen any crew higher than adept in ~35 ships sunk and 100 taverns visited. (Thank the Stranger for the begging skill increase % though).

- Something is very buggy with boarding and followers/crew. Will get locked into "You must recall crew before attempting to board." When everyone is on my ship and no option on tiller gump to recall crew.

- When 1 NPC crew dies, they are sent below deck to heal/res. Problem is I have to send all crew below decks, thereby triggering the timer for all. There needs to be a way to Bring deceased crew up on deck after their timer is up besides sending everyone below and waiting.


Ship system is great here. I don't know if it's worth pursuing with current upgrade drop rate though. One ill-timed disconnect and you can lose everything.. This is fine except for it will take months to upgrade ships at this current rate.