Sea of Thieves

The problem isn’t that boarding is too hard. The problem is that boarding is required.

Screenshot 15 06 2015 19 40 25 1024x576 - The problem isn't that boarding is too hard. The problem is that boarding is required.

Ship combat needs some tuning. As things currently stand, it's nearly impossible to sink a well-run ship with only cannon fire. Instead, pretty much every ship battle is resolved through boarding and repair-camping.

People have expressed that it's really hard to board a ship: Enemies can easily see your nameplates in the water, they camp the ladders, and so forth. This is all true, but it's made worse by the fact that everybody knows to expect boarding attempts, because they happen in 100% of battles.

The root of this problem is that naval combat is too ineffective. I like ship boarding, and I think it should be a really effective tactic – it just shouldn't be the only tactic. There should be realistic ways for effective crews to sink other ships through sustained fire, not just through spawn-camping.

I think there are plenty of ways to enable this. Here are a few example ideas, just to show that there's a wide variety of approaches that could be taken:

  • Increase the water fill rate of each cannonball hole
  • Decrease the amount of water you can carry in each bucket scoop (suggestion from /u/uthe0nlykyd)
  • If a ship already has the maximum holes in a deck, subsequent cannon hits to that deck should add a bucket's worth of water.
  • Increase shrapnel damage.
  • Make shrapnel damage deckwide.
  • A hole that has been repaired cannot be repaired again for a few minutes. (After repairing a bunch of holes, you might think about disengaging and heading to port!)
  • Reduce the number of repair planks that can be stored on each ship. Also:
  • Find a way to limit the "jump overboard, collect flotsam, mermaid-port back to the ship" mid-combat resupply. Naval battles currently can't really end through attrition, since there's no penalty for mid-combat resupplies this way.
  • Different types of ship damage could disable the helm, cannons, and so forth. (suggestion from /u/MaarekStele7)
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(Of these suggestions, my favorite are increased shrapnel damage and deck-wide shrapnel damage. This rewards sustained fire, which requires a really good helmsman and cannoneers with great aim.)

I think this is a win-win for everybody. Right now combats are predictable and formulaic, but by increasing the amount of viable win conditions, combat becomes more dynamic.

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