Pro Tips for Blackwake Players & Captains

Here are a few tips and tricks that will make your ship run like a well-oiled, hole-making machine. Tip #1 is to buy a mic and use it. However some people (including myself for a while) don't have a mic or can't use one. You can crew the majority of positions just fine with no mic, but for captains it's absolutely essential. With that out of the way, here we go.

For players:

  • When aiming cannons, press Tab as if you were checking the scoreboard. This will make the cursor show up in the absolute center of the screen. Assuming you don't move the cursor, its location is exactly where the cannon is aimed – if the cursor is not in line with the target, the shot will miss. If it is on the target, the shot will hit. It's that simple. Timing the shot just right is tough, but with a good captain it's pretty easy to get 100% accuracy just with this one trick.

  • Back out of aim and grab powder the second you light the cannon. You don't need to wait and see the shot hits – if the shot arcs towards the target, it'll hit. By doing this and generally reloading as fast as possible, I often end up firing 50% more often than the rest of the crew, and sometimes much more than that simply because I'm able to take advantage of more hit opportunities than they are. You're also more likely to have reloaded the cannon before something more important forces you off cannons.

  • With 5 holes or fewer, holes take priority over pumping. If the ship gets hit and you're the only one who sees the hole, stop what you're doing and patch it. If the ship gets hit and you don't see the hole, jump on the pump and look for the hole while pumping. Once you see the hole, get off the pump and repair the hole. Nothing gets under my skin more than a hoy captain flipping out about pumps when there's 4 holes, half the crew is dead and the rest are repairing holes. One pump will slow the rate of sinking from holes by 20%, so unless you have more than 5 holes it doesn't make sense to pump until all of the holes are repaired, or getting repaired.

  • With more than 5 holes, pumping usually takes priority over holes. Of course one guy pumping merely buys the ship more time vs. actually fixing a source of flooding, but that 20% more time can make all the difference. This is especially true on the galleon, where 2 out of the 12 crew is a small price to pay for a whopping 40% longer time to sink.

  • Avoid getting on the front/rear cannons on the galleon, or on the cabin cannons on the hoy unless you have a mic. These cannons are difficult for the captain to aim, since in the case of the galleon his vision is blocked by the mast/sails/ass, and on the Hoy the cabin cannons are offset by 5deg compared to the others. This means that the person manning these guns has to communicate with the captain in order to consistently get shots on target.

  • If you've got a mic, you should consider acting as what I call the "gunny". On the galleon, that means informing the captain about the status of the gundeck. Telling him which side(s) is loaded, whether the bow/aft cannons have a shot, if the deck is too flooded to function, as well as running supplies. On the hoy, that means manning the cabin cannons and running supplies, and generally keeping the captain informed of the things he can't pay attention to. There should only be one of these per boat to avoid overloading the cap with information.

  • If you just finished a reload and your ammo box is down to 1, grab that last powder and call for/retrieve a new supply box while your cannon is rolling into position. Since the game lets you "keep" the supplies you pick up and don't use, it wastes nothing to do this and reduces the down-time of the cannons. Nothing sucks worse as a cannoneer than running out of supplies in the middle of a reload. Really you can do this trick all the time, that way you'll never be in a position where you've got powder in the gun but no shot.

  • If you see a crewmate running around with a supply box and nowhere to put it, try and find one to use up for him. Even if all the cannons are loaded, grabbing the last powder will let him freshen up your supply, and you get to keep that powder for next time.

  • At the start of a match, reload as many cannons as you can out of one supply box. I usually use the cabin box on the hoy, and the box directly port of the ladder on the galleon. This way, you empty a box and replace it before you get in the fight, giving everybody completely fresh supplies at the start of the battle.

  • No more than 2-3 crew on the top deck of the galleon. 2-3 crewmembers are perfectly capable of manning anti-sails, repairing sails, and running cannons. The remaining 9-10 crewmembers are all needed for running the gundeck's cannons, pumps, and fixing holes. Of course, all of this changes once you board/get boarded, at which point you should just listen to the Cap.

For Captains:

  • Try and designate a mic-wielding player as your gunny/first mate. On the galleon especially, a second set of eyes will make your job insanely easier, and lead to far fewer fuckups (like setting up a port broadside when the port cannons aren't loaded). If you don't know anybody on the boat you might need to play a round to find a good candidate.

  • When you really want something done, assign that job to a specific crewmember that you call out by name. "Somebody get on pumps" often leads to either several people stopping what they're doing, or everybody assuming someone else will do it. Obviously when giving orders to specific players you have to be careful not to make it seem like you're picking on anybody, or else they'll think you're a dick and let everyone know it. Done correctly however it makes a big difference in the efficiency of your crew.

  • Don't wiggle back and forth when lining up a broadside. There's enough firing delay on the cannons that it's very tricky to hit any kind of distant target when the ownship is turning. Turning back and forth makes it almost impossible. If you want accuracy (and good vibes) from your crew, you have to make your movements predictable. Announce your intention to turn a second or so before you do it. Make small aim corrections. On the hoy, let your deck cannons fire and then call "aligning back cannon" or similar to let the cabin know that you haven't forsaken him and he doesn't have to take a dodgy shot. An accurate captain is so much better liked than an inaccurate one, it's insane.

  • Utilize all the firepower available to you. Way too many captains fail to use the front/rear cannons on the galleon. Way too many captains will continuously fire on only one side of the ship. While this is actually the superior tactic against a weak enemy (since you don't have as long of a reload period in which they can repair and respawn), against an enemy who can fire back it's best to approach head-on firing the front cannons, turn 90deg and stop, fire broadside, turn 90deg and stop, fire rear, turn another 90deg, fire broadside, and then disengage to reload and repair. Obviously same procedure with the hoy with 180deg turns. Oftentimes this is completely impossible, but when it's possible, do it.

I'm sure I'll come up with some more things in the future, also feel free to contribute your own tips and tricks in the comments and perhaps I'll do a second edition.

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