The new official FLS game guide Understanding Sailing is a more current and comprehensive treatise of the subject.
There have been a number of complaints about warships being underpowered lately. I believe these problems are due to not knowing how to sail warships. I am not saying there any fault on the testers' here. Pre-wipe, all ships played the same. Now, warships have changed drastically and they require a different play style. Players learn to sail in scouts, and then they switch to warships and it doesn't work. Experiences with the Ketch at low levels have produced similar results.
THE MAIN GOAL is to have different play styles for scouts and warships to give the game more variety. Playing scouts and warships the same way will result in sub-optimal performance.
Here's an overview of what you need to know about ships in order to squeeze the most out of them in combat.
- Suffer minimal movement penalties. As a result, they are capable of extended maneuvers.
- Fast acceleration
- Difficult to master. Must take full advantage of maneuverability to beat similar ranked and skilled warships.
- Usually has fastest speeds at beam reach.
- Suffer heavy movement penalties. Not capable of extended maneuvers.
- Slow acceleration.
- Hard to play
- Not as hard to master once you learn how to play
- Maintaining speed is essential. Warships need to plan their maneuvers out carefully and ahead of time. When warships maintain speed, they are almost as maneuverable as scouts.
- Higher crew than other ships. This helps them against crew effects and on defensive boarding. It also makes them extremely useful for group boarding (faster ships can initiate, then the warship can join in easily).
- In the worst case scenario, the warship is equivalent to the firepower of a scout. At higher levels they get more firepower.
- Warships are the hardest ships to sink. They have more armor and structure. Gun loss is related to % armor and structure, which means they suffer slower gun loss.
- Lower crew, more vulnerable to boarding.
- Generally lower armor, structure and damage output.
- The Ketch and Indiamen ships are combat-capable merchants. This includes the Oliphant. They handle similar to warships.
What you see, what you don't
The character UI does not reveal much about the performance of a ship.
- Speed - your MAXIMUM speed
- Accel - how fast you gain speed
- Best Point - the wind angle at which you get the most speed
- Turning - how fast you turn at max speed
You don't see:
- There are a dozen values for speed
- There are numerous acceleration and deceleration values
- There are different speed %s for each wind angle
- There are a dozen values for turning
A lot of the maneuverability for ships comes from those hidden values. This is a problem, and we are revising the character UI to give more information. However, we simply don't have space to show the ~50 values that make up a ship's maneuverability.
What we will show:
- Deceleration - how fast you lose speed
- Slow Turn Rate - Turn rate at 4 speed
- Fast Turn Rate - Turn rate at max speed
- Turning Accel - how fast you gain turning speed
- Turning Decel - extra turning deceleration
Slow turn rate and deceleration are especially important. To determine how fast we turn, we apply your turning acceleration when you start turning. We look at your speed... if you are between 0 and 4, we lerp from "Stopped" to "Slow" turn rates. If you are between 4 and max speed, we lerp from "Slow" to "Fast" turn rates. The slow turn rate is your base, and you always want to keep your ship above 4 speed to keep that turn rate. Turn rates are show in degrees per second.
Deceleration values determine how much speed you lose whenever you do anything with your ship. Warships have higher deceleration, which makes them lose more speed. That's why it's important to maneuver cautiously on a warship. The more you turn, the more your decelerate. It slows down a lot after you've been turning a bit, but
The Sleek ships in particular have upgrades to a lot of the stats we don't show.
Using the Wind
Here is a typical Scout Wind Diagram and a Warship Wind Diagram. Note these vary from ship to ship, and within each class of ship. However, most warships have a sail rig that keeps them close to that performance with a best point at 135. This is typical in Frigates. The scout ship diagram represents ships like Cutters (best point 90), but the Cerberus is closer to the warship diagram.
Warships handle better going with the wind. Scouts handle better against the wind. Sailing with the wind directly behind you (running) is rarely an optimal wind angle.
Since warships accelerate slower, losing the wind is much more painful. Sailing into the wind will cost you more time. Warships are often better off taking a long turn to maintain speed instead of going into the wind.
Scout ships can afford to take more risky maneuvers into the wind because they recover speed fast.
On the wind indicator, all green sections are not the same. Green is typically any speed greater than 85%.
Sailing directly into the wind is bad. That is why you should tack. Tacking is changing your sailing position back and forth and sailing towards the wind, but not directly into the wind. This creates a zig-zag movement pattern, which is faster than a straight line into the wind.
The Close Haul wind angle is the most important to understand. You sail much, much faster if you move into a Close Haul instead of Luffing/Upwind.
Close Haul is when the ship is sailing close to upwind, but not quite upwind. This is shown on the wind circle around the ship as the two portions to the sides of the red upwind portion. Tacking involves sailing in Close Haul until you move too far from your intended course, at which time you turn across upwind as quickly as possible to reach the other Close Haul sailing position. By tacking regularly the net course of upwind is achieved much faster that by sailing directly upwind.
Scout acceleration allows them to make frequent changes in their sails. You can lower sails for a shot, then increase them right afterwards. You can adjust your speed, come to a stop and try to turn around and go another direction.
Warships need to monitor their speed closely. You want to keep your average speed around 50% of max or higher. Battle Sails are not as important for warships, because your speed will usually be low enough that you don't need to reduce it for accuracy. However, it is important to change to battle sails if you expect dismantling shot because it will help protect your sails.
How to Turn
You need speed to turn. That is a simple fact in our game. If you try to turn and accelerate at the same time, you will get a slow turn and you will not accelerate. It is much better to accelerate and then turn. You will get the speed you need for future maneuvers, and it will make your turn complete faster. I cannot stress how important it is to gain speed before turning, unless you want to turn in place.
Scouts are forgiving when it comes to turning, but warships will punish every mistake. This is why warships are hard to sail, but once you learn the basics they are easier to master. Scout ships are hard to master because you can sail poorly and still be successful.