This PvP Guide is meant to give players who are new to Player versus Player combat (PvP) the most important information. You cannot really learn to PvP by reading about it, but knowing some facts before the action starts helps a lot.
The guide contains some practical exercises you should do together with a combat instructor. The combat instructor can be anyone from your society or any other helpful player who feels they are up to the job.
If you want to PvP, you need at least one ship of a suitable class, outfitted and stocked for fighting other players, kept in a central port all the time. Better still, one ship for open sea PvP and one for port battles, as these types of combat can call for different ships. Ideally, all your ships are ready for action all the time, but it might take some time to get to that point.
Choose ships that fit your career's strengths and your personal style of playing. Use an overview of high-level ships to see all the ships you can choose from. The ingame help (F1) lets you check out every ship's statistics. If you want more advice, in-depth discussions of many PvP ships and how to outfit them are available on the FLS forums.
- Read: Ship Overview by Level
- Details: PotBS Companion: Ship Statistics – With a ship comparison tool.
- Details: Garbad's Ship of the Week – Analysis and discussions of some PvP ships.
If you are new to PvP and unsure which ship to choose for your first steps, you might start with a Capri MC or a Tigre MC. Both are solid PvP ships, but cheap and easy to replace. Most careers can also get a decent ship refit from handing in 10 Magistrate's Commendations, which can be easily gained while leveling.
Generally, outfit a ship to improve its strengths, not to compensate for its weaknesses.
If you are unsure how to outfit your first PvP ship, here is a damage-oriented build you can use: Two Runner's Rigs, two Einar One-Eye's Devastating Guns, two Double-Planked Armor and two general damage mods (cannon and powder room categories). The remaining general mod could be a tanking mod (armor damage resistance or armor integrity) or a battle speed mod, depending on the intended use of the ship (keep the other mod on the ship, too).
Keep ammunition of every single type on your PvP ships, as you will probably need all of them at some point. This includes Stone Shot (for damaging crew and sails at a distance) and, if you can afford it, Explosive Round Shot (especially useful for gaining a decisive advantage in 1v1 battles). Explosive can be exchanged for Marks of Victory (MoV) at the Prize Agent in your capitol.
Your standard ammo for armor and structure damage in a PvP battle is Bronze Round Shot (or at close range Explosive, if you can afford it). Don't use Heavy Round Shot against players; you need the extra damage of Bronze.
Keep in mind that you can load different types of ammo on different gun batteries. If you have bow and/or stern chasers on your ship, you might want to load them with Bar Shot so you can easily put a speed debuff on an enemy.
While Quality repairs are good enough for PvE battles, your standard repairs for PvP should be at least Superior (green). If you can afford it, also carry some Well-mades or even First-Rates (blue). Freetraders should also carry a sufficient amount of all kinds of Experts; for Naval Officers, Privateers or Pirates at least some Carpenters and Sailmasters are a must-have. And don't forget the very important combined repairs: Tyrant's Overhauls (repair everything using up crew) and Shipwright's (repair everything but guns, no crew loss) can be picked up as loot drops, while Admiral's Overhauls (even more powerful than Tyrant's) can only be manufactured.
Make sure you have all your important repairs easily accessible on your toolbars and know where to find them.
There is a number of mission reward items, especially Useable Items (so-called "clickies"), that give you a big advantage in PvP and that every captain should posess. Consult the following link and get these items as soon as you can.
Your own career and that of your enemies affects PvP in many ways, as does the choice of captain skills.
Try to play your character according to the strengths of his career. Here's an incomplete list, only to be taken as a rough guideline:
- Naval Officer: Range, tanking.
- Privateer: Agility, debuffs.
- Freetrader: Repairs, (group) buffs.
- Cutthroat: Damage per second (DPS), debuffs.
- Buccaneer: Tanking, buffs.
A Naval Officer's weak point is their Maneuverability. The Naval Officer has arguably the worst turning bonuses of any class and also suffers to it from crew loss. In all other Aspects, the Class is near impossible to sink, Demast, Board, Out DPS or Spike.
The Privateer's weak point are Reload and Acceleration, which it also suffers from in crew loss.
A Freetrader's weak point is his crew. Crew loss affects reload and turning for a Freetrader, arguably the worst combination. And crew is the only thing where a Freetrader doesn't have an advantage in repairing over the other careers. On the contrary: While all other careers can acquire a crew recovery skill, there is no such skill for a Freetrader.
For the Cutthroat, it suffers Dreadfully to being Demasted. It has far less sail damage Resistance or Defense than any class, and is generally much more difficult to sink with it maneuvering buffs to distribute armor damage. The Class also suffers to crew loss quite easily, as it has no effective crew heal.
A Buccaneer's weak point are his sails. Most of the very effective tanking buffs of the Buccaneer only affect armour and structure, so overall the sails will often be easiest to take down. Crew loss affects reload and acceleration, but not turning.
Here is a very basic selection of a few key skills that probably shouldn't be missing from your skillset if you want to PvP:
- Naval Officer: Invincible, Last Resort Maneuverability, Dominate
- Privateer: Jugular, All Or Nothing Shot, Evasion, Unpredictability Resist
- Freetrader: Rum Ration, Evasion, Provision Allies Defense, Overloaded Shot
- Cutthroat: Cripple Enemy, Rum Ration, All Or Nothing Shot, Too Mean To Die
- Buccaneer: Whistle Down the Wind, Shatter Armor, Survival Instincts
The Skill Planner is a web applet that lets you plan a skillset. What's even better, you can compare skillsets with other players, because the applet lets you generate a specific URL for each skillset you enter, so you can show people your skillset by just giving them the URL. (Unfortunately some skill descriptions are out of date, so double-check them in the game.)
Solo Combat (1v1)
Knowing what to do in a PvP fight on your own is not only important for 1v1 situations, but also the foundation of being an effective group fighter.
Solo Combat Tips
The following tips have proven useful, but the list is incomplete and might not apply in every situation. In the end, only experience can teach you. For the beginning, try to act on the following advice:
- Gain or keep the wind advantage. Being upwind of your opponent gives you an advantage in agility over him and lets you control the engagement. Tack upwind at the beginning of the encounter if you need to.
- Check your opponent's career and consider attacking his "weak point".
- Use debuffs that weaken your opponents defences (e.g. Jugular or Focused Fire) before trying to damage him. But be sure you can damage him while the debuff lasts.
- Keep in mind that crew damage weakens important battle stats. If you have taken some crew damage and have a skill or an item to recover your crew, use it, and use it early.
- Play your strengths. If your ship excels at range, don't let yourself be pulled too close to the enemy. If you out turn your enemy, try to get on his stern and kill him through his weak stern armour. If you have a tanked ship, you might as well take a shot in the broadside if that gets you into a good position. If reload is your strength, keep shooting no matter what. You get the idea.
- Keep an eye on your own ship. Use your repair skills in time, and remember to also use repair consumables, preferably a combined repair if you have taken multiple kinds of damage. Also remember an Expert takes quite a long time to do his job, so don't wait too long before using one.
Practical Exercise: Ship Duel
Fight a ship duel against your combat instructor.
The combat instructor should choose a ship similar to yours. Before the duel you should agree on the terms concerning the equipment to be used. After the duel talk about what happened: Which moves were good, which ones proved to be mistakes? What was the reason the battle ended the way it did?
Most of the advice for solo combat also applies to group combat, but the key to winning a battle in a group is teamwork. There are some important group tactics every group member needs to know.
If you want to PvP in a group, you need to use a voice communication software. Most societies/nations are using the free Ventrilo software (vent). Download it, install it, ask a friend from your society/nation for the server details and get a vent admin to register you.
- Download: ventrilo.com
The usual group combat formation is a single line. Sailing in a line a group can concentrate its fire on a single target to reduce enemy firepower as quickly as possible, and damaged ships can be covered and given an opportunity to repair.
Remember to use your group buffs before the shooting begins. Avoid wasting buffs or debuffs by checking if the one you want to use is already in effect, ideally also by coordinating on vent. As a Naval Officer, remember to put Guardians on ships that are likely to be fired on, and do it early.
The group leader will call a target. Bring your guns to bear on that target while staying in line as closely as possible. If you can, put a weakening debuff on the target first (e.g. Jugular or Focused Fire). The group will try to use damage spikes to sink the target as soon as possible ("spike him out"). The enemy will try to avoid being sunk by getting cover and repairing.
If the enemy fire is concentrated on you, you will need to hide behind the line to avoid further damage and to repair. At the latest, start repairing when half your broadside armour on one side is gone. Ask for cover on vent, stating your name ("John Doe needs cover"). Move away from the line a bit to the safe side and stop moving: The ship behind you in line will move between you and the enemy to block the fire. If you are the last ship, the ship ahead of you needs to slow down to cover you. When you're covered start moving again and get away from the enemy fire to repair.
- Details: Blocking Damaged Ships
Advanced Group PvP Manual
When you think you've understood the basics of group combat covered in this guide, it is time to learn from the best by reading the most advanced group PvP guide available: The War Manual, by Dolf Zinidean.
- Read: The War Manual (PDF file download)
- Reducing the Barriers to PvP (forum announcement and comments)
Practical Exercise: Group Skirmish
Practice line fighting in a skirmish of at least 3v3.
Practice concentrating your fire on one chosen target and covering a damaged ship. Talk about the skirmish afterwards between the two teams.
The red PvP zones around ports are created by players attacking a port from the open sea (by sinking ships of that port's nationality or by sitting there flagged for PvP). If an attack has been strong enough (the port has been "flipped"), a battle over the control of this port (port battle) will be scheduled for 46 hours (rounded up) after the flip (within the server's port battle times). Port battles are fought by a maximum of 24 players on each side, typically in 4 groups of 6 players.
Being Prepared for a Port Battle
Port Battle Ships
A port battle will be heavy group PvP almost every time. Usually, though not always, ships with a lot of ranged spike damage and armour will be called for. It is also a good idea to make sure your ship has enough battle speed to not hold up the fleet or fall behind.
Before bringing a Colossal ship to a port battle, make sure that it's not meant to be a frigate port battle. If there are only a few Colossals in a port battle they tend to do more harm by slowing down the fleet, not being maneuverable enough and having to be protected, than the advantage in firepower can justify.
Vent in Port Battles
Communication in the port battle is done on vent in a special port battle channel. Usually everyone in the port battle is in that channel and can hear what everyone else is saying, which means that often group communication needs to be done by chat (typing) to avoid too much noise and confusion on vent. There is also a setup that allows groups to internally communicate on vent in a port battle, using an additional "Push To Talk" (PTT) key. There are a few easy steps to set this up, and you should do so before going to a port battle so that you are prepared. Obviously it is much easier to talk to your group than to type.
Preparation for AvCom
In the Grapes Tavern in Port Royal, Delilah Purcell from the British Royal Society offers the mission Corpi Hippocraticum. Completing this mission chain will give you a healing skill that can be used while in combat, a group healing skill and a second resurrection skill. Put all these skills on your toolbar, as well as your standard healing and your revive skill, and know which one does what. The two resurrection skills have separate cooldowns, so you can revive two players instead of only one!
Getting into a Port Battle
Invites to port battles are handed out by a lottery system. Each personal contention point you have for the contested port is one ticket; the more points you have, the higher the probability of an invite. You gain personal contention points by sinking enemy NPC or player ships within 100 miles of distance to a conquerable port; if more than one conquerable port is that close, points will only go on the one you are closest to. Other possibilities to get personal contention points are blockading/patrolling the port in a PvP-flagged group, or delivering unrest supplies and Marks of War etc to the Rebel Agent (for the attackers) or Garrison Commander (for the defenders) of the port.
- Details: FLS Conquest Guide: Port Battles
The first invites for a port battle are sent out 12 minutes before the port battle starts. You can only get an invite if you are logged on at this time. If you have points on the port you either get an instant invite or a place in the waiting queue. If you are in the queue you can still get in until the port battle starts if enough people ahead of you decline or let the 2 minutes timer for accepting run down.
You cannot change your ship or its outfittings once you have received an invite, so you should be on your port battle ship 12 minutes before the port battle. It doesn't matter if you are docked, on the open sea or even in ship combat, you can always get and accept an invite (except if you're already in another port battle or in boarding combat).
If you are prepared for a port battle, it is usually a good idea to accept an invite, even if you are not very experienced. You could still click out in the ready room if you wanted to, and another invite would be sent out to someone else.
The Ready Room
Accepting the invite takes you to the ready room. Change to the port battle room on vent. In the game, switch to the Battle chat channel and write the class of your ship on Battle chat. Stand on the stage while you wait to be invited to a group. If you don't get a group invite soon, repeat your ship on Battle chat. Once you have a group, stand at that group's table. Remember the voice of the port battle leader and of your group commander. Don't leave the ready room before your group does, and take care to use the same door the rest of your group uses.
Ship Combat in the Port Battle
Change your sail color according to your group's sail color. Take care not to get into anyone's way at the spawn point. Follow the instructions of the port battle leader and your group commander. When your group begins to move, find a place in your group's line and generally stay at this position. Remember what you have learned about line combat and act accordingly.
If you have questions or remarks, use the Group chat to communicate, or the Battle chat if it concerns captains outside your group. Only talk on vent if you are in need of help, and say your name and group if you do so ("John Doe, White group, needs Guardian and cover").
Port Battle Rules
As the attacker, there are two ways to win a port battle: Defeat all enemy players or take the town in Avatar Combat (AvCom). To get into the town for AvCom, the attackers need to destroy the Town Defense Gun and wait for a 30 minutes timer to run down. In the town lots of NPCs and 4 defending lieutenants will appear. Once all the lieutenants are defeated, the Town Commander will come out. If the attackers kill him they have won the port battle.
As the defending side, there are also two ways to win: Defeat all enemy players or survive for two hours without the town being taken. Like the attackers, the defenders can only enter the town once the Town Defense Gun is destroyed by the attackers and the 30 minutes timer has run down. But unlike the attackers, they can use not only the Main Town Entrance but also the Defender Town Entrance.
There is also a fortress on each port battle map, but fighting over it in AvCom is optional and does not directly affect the outcome of the port battle. The fortress cannot be destroyed from the sea.
AvCom in a Port Battle
When a port battle goes into AvCom (fortress or town), it is very important to stay disciplined and closely follow the instructions of the AvCom team leader. Generally, if you're not experienced:
- Don't aggro any NPCs! This means: Don't stray from the other players, and best stay at the back of your group.
- When enemies are coming in, use Cross Shot, Grenades and other area-of-effect (AOE) attacks to damage clusters of enemies. Unless told otherwise, go for the lesser NPCs first, then for the bosses.
- Always heal up and use your group healing skill to heal others around you.
- Resurrect dead players: Click on the name in your group listing to easily select a group mate. This is usually much easier than trying to click on the body. Pressing 'F' will also select the closest ally, which can allow you to target the body of a player from another group for resurrection. Remember you have to be out of combat to resurrect.
- If you have been killed, let the others know that you need a revive and where your body is.
- Dying in the fortress or town does not result in the loss of your ship.
Details on AvCom: FLS Avatar Combat Guide
Practical Exercise: Port Battle
Participate in a port battle.
There is no real way to simulate a port battle in skirmish, so you will have to practice on the real thing. You can tell your group leader that it's your first port battle or that you are not very experienced. It will probably be hectic: Don't panic! Stay on vent after the port battle is over and listen to the debriefing (hopefully there will be one). Ask your group leader or other players if they think you should have done things differently.
- Details: Port Battle Manual
Open sea (OS) battles are fought within instances, but often decided before they even begin. Knowing the ad hoc PvP rules and keeping up group discipline on the open sea (assuming you are in a group) will help you choose and win the battles you want to fight.
OS PvP Rules
In the full red PvP zone every player can be attacked by any other player of another nation. In the light red Pirate PvP zone only Pirates can attack and be attacked, as well as Privateers (level 15 or above). They can attack anyone, but also be attacked by anyone. A battle against NPCs in a PvP zone can be joined by players of the same nation as the NPCs. Pirate players can only enter battles against Brethren or Smugglers Union NPCs, not battles against pirate gang NPCs such as Varyags (although killing pirate gang NPCs creates contention against the Brethren, strangely).
When a PvP battle starts, there is a period of 45 seconds for other players to join. All the players who join within this period will be at the initial spawn points, close to each other. If after this period only one player on each side is in the battle, the battle locks as a 1v1 and no reinforcements can join at all. In all other cases reinforcements can still join the battle after the 45 seconds timer, but they will appear at the (remoter) reinforcement points. There can never be more than 6 players of one side in the battle at the same time. 5 minutes after the start of the battle the joinable period is over and no more reinforcement can join. This also applies to battles against NPCs in the red zone. Flares don't work in the red zone, there is no way to extend the joinable period.
When you leave a port or a battle and appear on the open sea in a red zone, you have the effect Temporary Invulnerability for a long time, provided you don't move. You also have Ad-Hoc Invisibility for some time, even if you move. After Invisibility wears off, you can be seen by others, but you still can't attack or be attacked; this effect is called Preparing Ship. Only once you are rid of all these effects can you attack or be attacked.
- Details: FLS Conquest Guide: PvP Zones
If you flag yourself for PvP at the Port Captain you can be attacked by every player. On the other hand, NPCs will not attack you, and you will have an open sea speed bonus. Also, the attacking player's group will be "aggression PvP" flagged for 5 minutes.
- Details: FLS Conquest Guide: PvP Flags
OS PvP Tips
- Always have your local map open and zoomed to a suitable distance on the open sea, so you can see everything that's happening around you.
- A player's color on the local map (or compass) indicates his PvP status:
- Blue: No PvP. The player cannot attack you and cannot be attacked himself.
- Green: This member of your own nation cannot attack you, but can be attacked himself. Green is also used for NPCs of your own nation.
- Orange: Contextual PvP. The color's meaning depends on if you are PvP flagged (voluntary/aggression/invalid ship) or not.
- Orange, while not PvP flagged yourself: The player cannot attack you, but can be attacked himself.
- Orange, while PvP flagged yourself: The player can attack you, but cannot be attacked himself.
- Purple: PvP. The player can attack you and can be attacked himself.
- Stay together and avoid getting split. Communicate clearly before entering or leaving a battle or a port. Remember that things like Preparing Ship can get your group split if you don't leave a battle or port all at the same time.
- Mind the wind. The wind-angles of attacker and attacked on the open sea will be those in the battle instance. Avoid getting attacked while pointing your bow into the wind.
- In a battle, keep your compass or your local map zoomed out so you can see if other players are entering at the reinforcement points.
Practical Exercise: Open Sea Group PvP
Join a group in the red.