PvP Ship Tactics and the defensive/offensive priorities
Ahoy there! I just wanted to make a fluid guide on how I use my ships against other ships. I played Guns of Icarus Online competitively a while back, and a lot of what I learned there transferred over to Sea of thieves, with exceptions of course.
GoIo had many strategies, even strategies that were not abiding by game rules, and more abiding by actual war rules, This is still true for SoT. However, every ship is pretty much the same so there are no extra new weapons or ships that fly up or down faster than the other, or do more ramming damage. The one thing I noticed in SoT is that Defence Rulez.
Defence Beats most things
Just defencive strategies in general tend to put you in the advantage in this game. Sails up, cannons pointed at approaches gives you an advantage. Being chased seems to give you the advantage. Fending off boarders with no fuss gives the offence a disadvantage. Etc etc.
There are a few exceptions, such as successful Stealth and covert tactics beats Defencive tactics pretty hard.
But in general, this entire guides mantra will be to stay in your ship.
- Stay in your ship
Help navigate the damn ship, think as a ship, become the ship with the rest of your crew, and help eachother. If this happens, nothing will get on your ship or beat it. As soon as someone prematurely shoots themselves off to board the enemy ship, the ship becomes 1 crew less of itself. This becomes more troublesome when someone in your crew is dead.
With the new ship damage, this and the upcoming strategies has become much stronger.
- Versus Approaching ships: Sit still, or move very slow. And keep a stance.
When a ship approaches you, you want to instinctively try and escape. Dont do it. Have your sails up, your anchor up and point your guns at the approaching ship. Your cannons should start firing when they think they can hit, and the helmsman should keep the ship aimed (Bonus points if you can multitask helm and cannons). The helmsmans other objective is to warn about boarders and shoot them off as well. (Easier to multitask helm and ladder-watching).
This will put the approaching ship in complete disaster, this is especially true if you are firing from a galleon. Or using cursed cannon balls. New ship damage also give you a chance at hitting their anchor. You WILL have the first shots, depending on how badly or well the enemy ship approaches, they will most likely be in some or much chaos.
And with good focus fire, you can make them not realize how fast they are actually sinking.
This stance, and a volley of cannon fire should give you enough read as to what you should be doing next. You could board after this, or start moving if you want. Whatever the case is, you will most likely be at a big advantage.
Note: Keep good anticipation for where the enemy ship will move. Most encounters that ive had will try to go behind or in front when they are approaching. So anticipate this, and aim the ship as they are sailing past.
- Keep in mind the enemy crew
Like a Realtime-strategy game where you become adept enough to realize approximately the resources of your opponent, the same should be said here with the approximate chaos that you have delivered, and how many enemies are currently at the enemy ship.
If you have recently killed someone, either with a cannon or them failing to board, and they are in some chaos, this is then the best time to make the decision to organize something.
The most simple one is boarding the enemy, as they are now 1 or 2 man down. This is the most frequent choice and is OK. Depending on how much you have damaged the enemy ship, you might as well fire off a crew member to the enemy ship if you think it will secure it.
The other option is to stage a final Volley that will equally get the enemies to become even more busy and take less time trying to escape you. You do this by planting your ship better against theirs and deliver the volley. This is the most costly, but safest option.
The final options is in regards to powder kegs if you have those and that the circumstance yields it. And all that your crew has to do is assist the powder kegger with gun fire, and distraction.
- When being chased You still have advantage
If you happen to be chased, or choose to be chased. You are at strong advantages.
There are a few ways you can turn the tables on to the chasers.
Firstly, you can try and board the chasers in order to anchor them. With good communication, you should be turning your own ship (With anchor turn maybe) in good timing with the enemy ship being anchored. You then are capable of planting your ship against theirs.
Or it leads to second option, which is with a good lead, you can Raise your sails, turn your ship and greet them as if they are approaching you with yourselves being ready.
If you have a powder keg, try and give them the powder keg in such a way that will hit their anchor. The brigantines front sail and anchor may be destroyed with it hitting a powderkeg floating in the water. The galleons 2 masts and anchor will fall if you manage to get it up there.
For miscellaneous strategies, you can make Drive-By deliveries where you deliver loot little by little each time you sail by an outpost/seapost. The crew that do this can always mermaid back to the ship.
- Briefly Repairing
Most effective repairs comes with 2 people. One bails, the other repairs. The repairman should be utmost worried for the ship, so if his repairs that repair leaks are immediate, you are then less likely to have 2 people required to repair.
Offensive is tricky but must be done right
There are many strategies to abuse as the offender, but most of them can be beaten by one strategy by the defenders. Pick and choose the right strategies and in good order as you may not have a second chance.
- Approaching a ship needs to be evaluated
An approach depends on the readiness of the defending enemy ship. If you see them broadsiding you and ready with their cannons, that means your approach will be very hard to come victorious out of.
Firstly, when approaching an enemy ship, one thing you must evaluate is which way the enemy ship is facing. The way they face forwards is the way that they will make their escape if they can. So it is important to keep distance until you can somewhat greet them with both of you facing the same direction. This could also mean rounding an entire island in a seemingly passive distance just to end up nice and close, with your ship facing the same direction as their ship. Also evaluate if this is necessary at all as some ships wont be ready to even make an escape.
Secondly, evaluate their readiness. If they meet you with broadside, you can bet that they have all their crew men on the ship. If you dont feel confident and that yours and their current circumstance does not give you any advantage to abuse, then you may want to consider other tactics, or risk approaching.
- Fundemental approach
A fundemental approach is all sails but one being liften, and then in a pretty far but still hitable distance you slowly broadside the enemy defenders. You are essentially hoping to plant yourself against them as well as their position is against you. Its like planting the defencive tactic in an offensive way.
Dont ever anchor if you can lift the final sail up...
- Stealthy approach
Rounding an island can be a good tactic to catch them in a somewhat surprise as a ship. But most frequently, you will have to be creative. Such as having gun powder kegs swimming far just to keg their ship, and communicate the timing to approach with the defending enemy ship in chaos. Or a boarder that disrupts them in one way or another.
By creative, I mean be very creative. If a boarder cant get on the ship, he can at least try to snipe them from the island/water. Or fire cannons on their ship if there is one from the island just for a little bit of chaos that could give you the final approach.
Sometimes you have to board with all crews while your ship is in a safe distance. Orchestrate to shoot the ladder defender and you will gain to board the enemy ship. Then one or two crew members can mermaid to get your ship to approach.
Minor addition: I would like to add that Solo-sloopers need to be very creative with all of their strategies. Defensive strategy is the best one, but sometimes you will have to improvise and combine and multitask a few things.
- Abrupt approach
An abrupt approach is a very risky approach, and it may depend on your evaluation. This approach can have you anchoring your own ship just to be fast enough to surprise the enemy and still be in a good position to deliver them a good volley.
Anchor only if you feel not confident enough of your speed. This will be the easiest option but is risky. Most notably, if you ever do this, try and anchor a nice distance infront of the enemy ship so that he will have a hard escape.
But, orchestrate instead to pull all sails up. This is really hard to time, as you may overshoot and sail past them, or not be ready on the cannons before the defenders do. This is essentially, a fundamental approach done fast. But the chance of an error is high, so mostly do this if your enemy evaluation is suitable for it.
Try not to ram as an approach. Even when successful, youl have to think about your own repairs. And most likely you wont be successful, and will have to think about your own ship. Ramming is a desperate maneuver that more coincides with things outside of ship combat. It could be that they have loot you desperately want to take.
Appreciate what is important
- Appreciate the objective
Figure out what is really important with the current situation. This can be many things, but usually, by objectives, I mean "What needs to be done". If you have loot, then it must be delivered, the enemy will have to abide by this. If the objective is to anchor the enemy ship, then maybe it is best to do something that will make it happen.
If a boarder simply hops around the enemy ship fighting, he could forget that they have powder kegs in the crows nest or to NOT anchor them and instead sail their ship into something or an unfavorable position.
If your ships is anchored as well as the enemies, next to eachother, then maybe it is best to take out their masts so that they will have more work to do in order to get out of sitting still.
Try not to get stuck in the mindset of "always anchor the enemy" or "Always fire at the ships hull", as that could have you miss better opportunities if you forget what is more important.
- Appreciate being together in the ship.
The amount of things that can be done if the crew help each other make AS A SHIP will help you maneuver the toughest of times. Because of there being more people on your ship most of the times, you will grant more devastation with cannonballs and more likely to have immediate repairs at the same time. And more likely to have someone defending the ladder.
- Appreciate letting go
When you do sail past the enemy, dont try to board the enemy when it is obviously going to be too difficult. Or chasing someone that has out meneuvered you 3 times already. Accept defeat, and approach entirely new. Trying to make up for a mistake with a broad and desperate action is going to make the mistake even worse. If anchoring was a mistake, help each other to unanchor.
- Stay in your ship
@crafek It's a great read, thanks for taking the time out of your day to help other people rather than starting more controversies. It's a shame more people aren't reading this thread, perhaps with your guide the Sea of Thieves would be more competitive.
Anyway, I wish you luck - Have a good day/night :)
@spunkus-skunkus It is a bit of a wall of text, but thank you. Judging from visiting these forums, not a lot visit the guides section or not as many as I wish on the entire forums, but ive accepted that.
This guide may not help all as it is a "Fluid" guide meant for some interpretation. I would go to make more visuals and really be convincing in a much more tactile way, and I do think a more tactile guide would be more understood for more people. But that would be a project which I am not undertaking.