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A Beginner's Guide to Conquest

By Infinite Amount
 

Welcome to Naval Action, a sandbox open-world MMO about sailing ships in the 18th and 19th Centuries. One of the key "endgame" activities are something called Port Battles. These are part of the Conquest System currently in place (and subject to change). Port Battles are fun and impactful PvP fights which decide the ownership of ports throughout the game world.

If you are reading this, I'm going to assume a number of things: (1) That you have never taken part of a Port Battle, and (2) you are unfamiliar with the terms that are commonly used for Port Battles. If it seems like I'm talking about what would be considered commonly knowledge or that my tone sounds condescending, just remember that others might not know what you do.

 

(Another thing: This is a wall of text, because there is a lot of information that needs to be addressed. I'm sorry about that, but you should have enough time to read it while you do all your AFK sailing this game practically requires.)
 
Overview. How a Port gets captured.

Fundamentally, all port battles follow the exact same process:

  • While at a port controlled by their faction, a player may buy a conquest flag for any port that's not controlled by their faction.
  • An attacking player must sail that conquest flag to the port that it was purchased for.
  • Once there, the Conquest battle for the port will start, between the faction that bought the flag and the faction that owns the port.
  • If the attackers are victorious, then the port becomes contested, which means that players of both factions can enter it, and it will become one of the attacker's ports after the daily server restart.

This is the basic overview of how a Port is flipped (switched from one faction to another). If a faction can do all of these things, they they can control the port.

However, it is never just this simple. There are rules and strategy that cover every single step of the process. I will go into detail of each part of the process, and how you, as a pug player (a non-clan aligned player, usually not in voice chat. from the term "pick up group") can help. The first three parts will cover port offense, followed by a part covering port defense, and ending with a general conquest tips for actions that may occur outside of port battles.

 

Part 1 Buying the flag.

 

Buying the flag is only the first public step of any port battle. It is announced server-wide with the notification "[Faction] has created an assault fleet against [Port],[Port's Faction]". When you see that notification, it means that someone has purchased a conquest flat against that port (usually shortened as "pulling the flag" or "buying the flag"). However, pulling a flag is never the very first step. Behind the scenes, in TS servers and private chat channels, prepareation for a port battle has begun hours or even days before. Organizing funds and planning routes have already been done well before the flag is pulled. So understand that any public criticism for pulling a flag that's made on Nation or Global chat is way, way too late to change anything. If the first you've heard of a port battle is that notification come across your screen that an assault fleet has been created, then the people are are leading the port battle have already spent a lot of time setting it up. Similarly, if you think that your faction would benefit from controlling a nearby port, asking people in Nation chat to attack it, or why they haven't attacked it is not productive. Usually, there is an important reason why a port would not be taken, such as it is unfeasible due to distance or enemy strength or the capture window is closed. Also, you can check your map (M) and check the conquest information tab to determine what ports have already been captured that day.

 

How can you, as a pug player, help at this stage of the port conquest process? Well, the answer is not that much. Simply, if the Port Battle organizers needed material help at this point, they would not pull a flag at all. Although, if you are in the area, you could probably ask your Nation chat who's organizing the battle and get on their voice communication system in order to coordinate better with the larger plan. If not, you will usually have time to get to the area of the port battle, and be able to assist in the later stages.

 

Part 2 Planting the Flag.

 

After the assault fleet is created (read:the flag is pulled), the flag carrier has exactly sixty minutes to plant the flag to its port. After sixty minutes, the timer expires and the flag disappears with all the money spent for it wasted. Because of this it is imperative to get the flag to the port as fast as possible and without being intercepted by any enemies (of any faction). If the flag carrier is sunk, the flag will also disappear and end the port battle process.

How can you, as a pug player, help at the planting stage of the Port Battle? There are many things that you can do if you are nearby. One of the most helpful is to head directly to the port that's being attacked and try to fight any defenders there. Getting them into battles will prevent them from being able to intercept or sink the flag carrier. This is the single most important thing, as a pug player, you can do throughout the entire port battle process. Another thing you can do is to scout the main routes between the port and the other ports nearby, especially Free Ports. These are the routes that defenders will likely come to defend the port. Even just reporting their number, names and location in Nation chat can be extremely helpful. Fighting those defenders is also helpful. This entire process of escorting the assault fleet and attacking defenders is called Screening (at least by the US).

 

There are a couple of things about screening that you have to understand to do it effectively. If you attack an enemy, you best be absolutely sure that the flag carrier is not going to be pulled into that battle. There is a term for attacking an enemy interceptor and dragging your friendly flag carrier into the battle. It's called "fucking up massively." You will very, very quickly earn the undying hatred of those who organized that port battle, and you will deserve it. I cannot stress enough how important that it is not to do that.

 

Another screening tip is that when you fight the enemy outside of a port battle, you are not fighting to sink him. You are fighting to keep him in the battle. As long as he is in the battle, he cannot assist with the port defense. Fight strategically, not necessarily tactically.
 

Part 3 Fighting the Battle.

 

This is the meat of the port capture process, two massive fleets of powerful ships duking it out in order to decide the fate of a port. That's what Naval Action is all about right? You can write volumes and volumes on port battle strategy itself, which would be tedious to you to read and for me to write, so I'll make it as simple and as easy to understand as possible. A Port Battle pits an attacking team against not just the player defenders, but also a number of AI Martello Towers (3 for shallow water ports, 5 for deep). To win a port battle, the attacker must destroy all the tower defenses, and sink enough of the defenders to have a two-to-one superiority in Battle Rating over them. Port Battles are also limited to twenty-five ships to a side.

 

So, what does this mean for you, the pug player hoping to join in on your first Port Battle? One, as victory is determined by battle rating, the attackers will need to get as many heavy ships into the battle as possible. For deep water battles, this means Ships of the Line and Heavy Frigates. Niagaras and Cerberuses should be the very last to enter so that they do not take a slot better suited for a 3rd Rate. For shallow water port battles, Navy Brigs and Mercuries over Cutters and Lynxes. If you show up to a Deep Water port in a Niagara and by entering you prevent a 3rd Rate from getting in, don't complain when you get bitched out over chat. You dun goofed.

Two, do not bring AI fleets into port battles. Sure, that pair of cutters might be nice for missions and to keep from getting ganked, but in port battles it prevents more players from entering and at best all they'll do is sink, but more often they'll interfere with other players, including ramming your teammates. As port battles wind up being much slower (like, actually sailing at slower speeds) and much more claustrophobic than mission battles or open world battles, proper maneuvering is key in these fights. I don't know if you've ever actually watched how the AI reacts when close to multiple allied ships, but "ramming the shit out of them" is an understatement.

 

Part 4 Port Defense.

 

There can't be a port fight without some defense (well... there can but it's boring as shit). I don't really have anything more to add for the defense side, really it's just about preventing the same things the attackers are trying to do. Intercept the enemy fleet. If you can nail the flag carrier, do it. But the most important this is to get to the port! You have forty minutes after the "Conquest for [Port] Started" to get in, which is more than enough time to get to the port, unless you're very far from your nation's territory. Getting as many people in as possible takes priority over ship weight, although if there are five Mercuries and a Cutter heading towards the PB and there are only four slots left, the Cutter probably shouldn't enter. Just get to the port, while the port battle might be full, there usually are a ton of fights around it that you could help in.

 

Part 5 Other Information

 

Port Battles are usually fought a extreme range, at least initially. Long guns are the most versatile type of gun and are a necessity for Port Battles (although there is another school of thought that emphasizes the carronade's superior damage for the brawls that often occur near the end of the battle, but this means that you're combat ineffective until after the towers fall).

 

Port Battles are fought at extreme short public notice (intentionally), so if you're a member of a larger nation and you want to take part, station yourself on the front lines for your nation. You'll not get a lot of sympathy for yourself if you complain about not making a port battle when you are based out of your nation's capital (unless you're Spanish on PvP1, which has it's own entirely different set of problems than most).

 

Yes, you can board the towers. Don't as it won't stop them from firing and they have a disproportionate amount of Marines, making any boarding attempt costly at best.

 

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Nice guide, but I am hearing about Capture Windows, or something to that effect? Can see them here: 

 

http://forum.game-labs.net/index.php?/topic/8263-petition-remove-port-capture-windows/page-1

 

Could you elaborate on this? 

 

A capture window is a 2 hour time frame set by a port's Lord-Protector during which a flag for the port can be purchased, and therefore during the capture window is the only time during the day that a port can be captured. If a Lord-Protector does not set a capture window, or if a port doesn't have a Lord-Protector, then the port can be captured at anytime.

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