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Anyway, once starting, the first thing I do is seek out funds to buy another ship, and to arm my two ships with cannons and some cutlesses. Having a Brig and a Sloop is my first aim. Often I just take out a loan so I can buy this ship, but if you want to be conservative (as I recently started doing just in case failing with the first battle) you could trade for 5-10 mins for another 10,000 gold or so, so that you dont need to take out a loan.
Once getting a brig and a Sloop, fully arm it and fully man it. Dont forget to get about 80 cuttless and some ammo for your ship. 30 ammo of each type is enough for your first fight or two, but make sure you get grape and chain ammo for hitting the sails and killing men. Big ball cannonballs are next to useless but is cheap just in case you ever run out.
Leave town fully armed, - you should be able to fit about 90 sailors into youre two ships. Start sailing around toward another nation and look for any foriegn single ship barque. Don't worry about your reputation too much early on as long as you keep your home nation happy. A pirate barque would be even better as you dont piss anyone off. Theres a few pirate barques around early in the game.
Once you find one, attack it.
The Battle :
Immediately when I enter the battle screen i roll the mouse wheel towards me. This will make the battle screen zoom out a little so I can see the battle better. at the same time, click on the "select all ships" button at the top, and also select the "automatcally board ships button". Next click on the grape ammo checkbox to change to grape ammo. - we want to do a fast kill of the enemy sailors here. At this stage you have both ships set to grape ammo and set to board any enemy ships they touch. To Begin, your ships are heading directly towards the enemy's.
At this time, you want to turn both your ships 90 degrees (any direction) so that you can fire your cannons at them. Fire your cannons twice at them. Now check their crew numbers against yours. If you need to hit them again then do so, otherwise turn your ships around again and ram the enemy with your closest ship. With your other ship you may want to try fire your cannons again just to knock their crew down a bit more if you look to be losing your hand to hand combat battle.
I would suggest you try this start in single player mode a couple of times to get the handle of things and iron out any mistakes. If the enemy barque is a bit fast for your ships when you turn to ram it, you may consider using chain shot on one of your ships instead to make their sails rip.
Ok, you've captured a barque and now have 3 ships. Go back to port and leave your most damaged ship in the harbour. You probably will keep the barque and 1 other ship. transfer your excess cannons to your storage area, and recuit more sailors. It may also be a good time to check the taven to see if a more experienced captain is available.
Now go back out to the sea and hunt for another barque. repeat battle tactics the same as before.
Dock again and dump your other ship into the harbour. By this stage you should have 2 barques in your convoy, and your original 2 ships in the harbour. If you need more money to buy ammo, consider selling one of your original ships. If not, keep them for now. Reman and re arm your two barques and head out in seek of a 3rd barque. This time come back and keep your 3rd barque in the fleet.
However if any of your barques has sustained too much damage (ie is over half damaged) then you should drop it off in port too and continue with a 2 ship convoy. The idea is to go out with convoys of 3 ships (don't go out hunting with any more or you risk losing them to pirates or if you are unfortunate to be attacked by a military convoy.)
Head out with your 3 barques and try to capture another barque. By this stage you may find there are a few 2 ship convoys around and not as many 1 ship barques to take. With 3 ships you should be able to attack a 2 ship convoy if single ships are too hard to find.
Once you have taken your 4th barque, go back to port again. Drop the most damaged barque into the harbour again, resupply and head back out with 3 ships again in seek of more barques.
You now probably are wondering why I am obscessed about Barques. Simply put it, barques are the smallest ship that can sail at 12 knots. You should not consider using ships to fight with if they are slower than 12 knots. Sloops, brigs, flutes, frigates, etc go slower than 12 knots. Caravels and Flutes are the slowest ships (also are Pinances),
Even though Caravels are well armed with 36 cannons and can hold a lot of sailors, dont be tempted to use them as part of your battle fleet. Any barque can simple run rings around them.
Also, having just one slow ship in your fleet slows your entire fleet down on the world map to that of the slowest ship so it pays to have all fast ships. this is why i leave the slower ships behind in the harbour.
Ok so you have 3 barques in a fleet and some now sitting in the harbour mostly damaged. You If you have a loan then it might be a good idea to start getting some cash. Once you have say 3 barques in your convoy, and 3 more sitting in the harbour its then a good time to sell any other ship you have ie your brigs or any other slow ship you've captured. Once you have some cash again you could consider sending your sloops on a trade route or two. Its a good idea to have some trade routes already worked out and saved so you can simply assign them to your ship.
By now you have probably also pissed off another nation if you've attacked them to much. If you have taken on unknown pirates then your reputation wont be that bad. It might be time to choose another nation to attack. I like to attack either the french, english, or dutch. The spanish have many more towns so i prefer to remain neutral with them so i can trade with them later.
Ok, now if you need a bit of cash, hunt out a small flute convoy, or better still Trade Flutes. Flute ships sell well, and is handy to go after if you need some gold to pay for supplies or a letter of marquee or to pay off a loan.
Ultimately you should aim for a total of 8 barques before going onto the next step of upgrading to more powerful ships.
With 8 barques under your control, create a 5 ship convoy. leave 3 barques back at port (you just in case your fail you have 3 barques ready in reserve to start over again).
Its important to keep reserves handy in your home port. The last thing you want is to go into battle and lose all your assets. this is why up until now I have recommended fighting with small 3 ship barque convoys.
Now with your fully armed, fully manned 5 ship barque convoy with 300 sailors, go seek out a small transport convoy of an enemy nation. Look for one which has a Carrack leading it. Transport convoys tend to travel from europe with tools, coats, pottery, and wine and then take goods back to europe so its handy to attack trade convoys that are heading back toward the east back to europe. Look for a transport convoy that has up to 6 ships in it. Don't worry about taking on a 6 ship transport convoy with your 5 barques even if they have twice the number sailors as you. What happens with transport convoys is half of their ships are made up of unarmed flutes and trade ships. These will have no cannons so half their convoy goes into retreat. Only the escorts in the convoy will challenge you leaving you with 3 enemy ships vs your 5 barques. If you attack a 6 ship transport convoy which has a carrack leading it, you're likely to come against a carrack and 2 normal frigates. Friagates only travel at 11 knots so you are faster than them. If you are lucky instead of a frigate there may be caravels which are even slower.
Fighting a Tansport Convoy
Just like in my tutorial earlier, using your 5 barques against their 6 ships (3 of them will automatically retreat) :
- mouse wheel out
- select all your ships
- set to board any ship you touch.
- Select grape cannonballs to kill sailors.
- turn your fleet 90 degrees and get two shots in.
- if they are sailing slow ie they are going into the wind you may get a 3rd shot in before they are close.
Now unlike earlier when fighting barques, you'll probably need to kill a few more men so the next manouver i'll take you through is to do another 180 degree turn to face the other way. Now turn your entire fleet away from the enemy so for a moment you are running from them and then complete your 180 degree turn (or should i say nearly 180 degree - make it more like 160 degree). while doing this process, make sure you are continuing to tap the Shift key so you fire when theres an opportunity. The 180 degree turn basically provides you with another 1 or 2 shots. At this stage you are probably nearly ready to ram their ships as you would had killed enough of them to out number them. Ram their ships now with another 90 degree turn back towards them and finish off. If any of their ships slip by you and tries to run rings around you, you may need to switch to chain ammo so you can slow them down. do this if they are low on men but hard to catch.
Once you have captured their 3 escorts, the other ships in their fleet will be probably too far away to chase so just abandon the chase with the abandon battle button. If you are still being chased it will be a white flag button so dont press that or you conceed.
Now with taken 3 new ships, its back to your base. keep the Carrack and put it into your battle fleet, and take 1 of your barques out and leave it in the harbour. Sell any of the frigates as they are no use. Same with Caravels, sell them and make a good profit. If you are lucky enough to get any military frigates then keep them. They are nearly as good as Carracks and are also in the 12 knot class. Also sell any goods you have plundered for a profit. Now go back out and find another transport convoy and aim to capture another carrack. Once you have taken your second convoy and have two carracks, reduce your fleet back down to 4. Use your 2 new carracks and 2 existing barques (or military frigates if you get them) to get more carracks, each time replacing your barques with newly acquired carracks and military frigates.
Work your way capturing transport convoys with the aim of owning at least 6 carracks. Once you have 6 carracks, go out with a 4 ship convoy again (leaving the rest of your ships at home in reserve) and look for a transport convoy containing a galleon. You guessed it. Its time to replace your carracks with Galleons now. Once you have started capturing galleons, you can then sell off your old barques and leave your carracks in town as your reserves. Then once you have several galleons, you can then sell off your carracks as those reserves get replaced by more galleons.
How to Avoid getting caught by a military convoy or a Pirate after a battle:
The last thing you want to happen after taking out a transport convoy is to lose all your ships to a military convoy. Here are some tips to avoid this.
- Always return to base as soon as you have captured ships and reorganize your convoy.
- never take slow ships with you out to battle, drop them off at port ASAP!
- Try stay and operate fairly close to your home town (or at least a friendly town)
- Don't attack a nation in the same region any more than 2 times in a row. If you attack them a 3rd time they will send a military convoy after you. Its suggested alternate your attacks on two seperate nations instead as it will be less likely you'll get a military convoy on your tail.
- Operate your attacks as close to any town as possible.. even if its just outside the enemy town. What you can do if you get chased by a military convoy is to dock at the town and you will escape. Sneak into town if they are hostile with you and you will also be safe.
If you do become unlucky to be attacked by a military convoy or a pirate when your convoy is weak then all you can really do is run from battle. Select all ships, set ammo to chain cannon balls then rotate your ships 90 degrees and get off 1 or two shots. Then set your ships on retreat. (this process of turning your entire fleet manaually first helps avoid your ships turning into and crashing into one another) . Then select your two middle ships (these will most likely be your strongest) and disable the retreat button and manually run with these ones. You should use them to fire more chain shot as they are running. Tack from left to right with them slightly firing chain shot at the enemy who are comming from behind or the sides. This should help give your other ships a chance too (unless you are being chased by liners and galleons vs any carracks or any other ship that travels 12 knots or less). Any galleons you have should be fast enough to get away if they are not damaged badly.
Happy Hunting! :)