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Indiamen and Privateers

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I wanted to talk briefly about why privateering ships could take down huge merchant ships so quickly and easily. It wasn't that the merchant ships were unarmed. They could have as many cannons as third and fourth rates. And most privateering vessels were small, fast, and didn't have a lot of firepower. The difference was in manpower.

 

A schooner rigged out for privateering could have a hundred men or more crammed aboard, and schooners are tiny things. They were very lightly armed, but they were fast and maneuverable, and their primary purpose was to get close to the lumbering Indiamen and board. You didn't really want to be shooting at the ship that has all your loot, right?

 

In addition to being slow and unresponsive, Indiamen were classically undermanned, especially in times of war. The Navy was always pressing able hands (and sometimes not-so-able hands) right out of any ships they'd run across. If an Indiaman had enough crew aboard to man the sails and fight the guns, they were very, very lucky.

 

So, what did Indiamen do to protect themselves against privateers and enemy navies?

 

They could hire escorts. Naval escorts were best, and the largest companies had influence enough in the Navy to ensure that convoys were protected.

 

They could convoy. This is the herd mentality of 'we may not all make it, but I'll take my chances with the group.' Privateers and enemy navies were like circling hyenas, looking for the slowest-served and slowest-sailing vessels. Grabbing even one was usually enough for a privateer to pay for itself a thousand times over.

 

They could get protection from the press. This was the rarest of the rare. If your Indiaman was one of the rarer ones with enough guns to be an actual menace, then having enough able crew to serve sails and guns was of prime importance. Mind you, not all Indiamen were like the ones in POTBS with 50 guns. Most had twenty, twelve, or even none.

 

So, what does all this mean for Naval Action? I have no idea. :) But, thinking on a few things, it really depends on how the economy works. Sailing a 'fighting' Indiaman could be interesting, but I'm not sure that it would be valid as a 'class' per se, like they did in POTBS. I know that Admin has said they're avoiding a level based system (hooray!) and that sort of lends itself to avoiding classes to. It could just be that a 'class' is simply a template on which one can learn certain skills. Like in The Secret World. Everyone can learn everything eventually, but, to start, you pick a 'deck' which guides you towards an efficient build with a particular flavor, like tanking, healing, etc...

 

Anyway, wandering off topic there. Mostly, I think Indiamen and merchant ships in general are necessities for this kind of game, but I'm not sure that sailing them would be a regular thing. They're not exactly fun ships. And sailing against them is similarly boring. They'd need escorts. Or be armed like rates.

 

Anyway, just thinking out loud here.

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I basically hate farming in any game. Hauling was the most boring thing in PotBS, but only because the whole map was safe. Hauling in the red was awsome (like picking flowers in contested areas was awsome in WoW). For those who don't want to haul no matter what, I think a military career would be the best choice.

 

I could see 4 types of hauling:

 

- solo: freetraders or smugglers, trying to stay out of trading routes and taking advantage of the environment

- big trade convoy: best haulers defended by SoLs, sailing directly to the destination and ready for a fight

- small trade convoy: a mix of both

- military convoy: hauling men, food and guns to supply land armies (related to conquest features)

 

As you said, the economy should be balanced to give a good gaming experience. The weights should be tuned to make hauling required but not too often.

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  • Farming/Hauling should not be deleted from a game. You must understand there are many who enjoy those types of gameplay and it has to be included and not forced, as an option in a game.

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I basically hate farming in any game. Hauling was the most boring thing in PotBS, but only because the whole map was safe. Hauling in the red was awsome (like picking flowers in contested areas was awsome in WoW). For those who don't want to haul no matter what, I think a military career would be the best choice.

 

I could see 4 types of hauling:

 

- solo: freetraders or smugglers, trying to stay out of trading routes and taking advantage of the environment

- big trade convoy: best haulers defended by SoLs, sailing directly to the destination and ready for a fight

- small trade convoy: a mix of both

- military convoy: hauling men, food and guns to supply land armies (related to conquest features)

 

As you said, the economy should be balanced to give a good gaming experience. The weights should be tuned to make hauling required but not too often.

Sounds good.

 

I think if there is going to be economy and crafting it should come with risk. Convoys systems reflect reality, they have been used all through history to get ships through dangerous waters.

 

Just pure hypothetical. Say if Naval Action was to make a player ran economy (which would be cool). Say you have a flute or some sort of transport ship. It would be really cool to be able to request an escort from fellow players, that would insure safe travel to point a to b for a price. The only way they receive there pay, is if you make it to were your going safely. Or even be able to jump in a group (convoy) were escorts are paid a price for safe arrival. A system built right into the game. This would be an interesting way to get economy motivated player to work with more pvp oriented players. It would also present a challenge for pirates or privateers. Might be a pretty interesting game of cat and mouse on the side of conquest.  

 

I also enjoy the idea of adding smuggling as well.

 

I would like to see economy meshed with pvp.

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I would like to see economy meshed with pvp.

 

We are planning to build economy around guilds and conquest. 

Ports wont be static and expand with active trading and guild leveling. Some of the buildings won't be available if your port is not active enough. But in thriving areas Nations will set up academies for better crews and better ships, manufacturers, for better weaponry, auction houses and missions etc. 

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We are planning to build economy around guilds and conquest. 

Ports wont be static and expand with active trading and guild leveling. Some of the buildings won't be available if your port is not active enough. But in thriving areas Nations will set up academies for better crews and better ships, manufacturers, for better weaponry, auction houses and missions etc. 

 

Sounds like strategic trade spots would get contested by active guilds, then. I like the sound of that.

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I would suggest that merchant vessels should have an advantage when hauling cargo, due to the sole fact that if they dont poeple will just use bigger and faster frigates to transfer cargo makeing the merchant vessel a stepping stone in the line up.

 

Advantages that i suggest:

 

Maritime insurance, due to the smaller width of the vessels, paying and insuring your vessel and cargo should be cheaper as was the system back dureing this time, Merchantman took advantage of this stipulation by constructing small shups in length but with flared out bottoms giveing them increased cargo space for there size.

This would increase profit margins for merchant players and also give pirates a realistic feel, lets face it trade dureing that time there wasnt frigates fully armed with cargo for trade (atleast that wasnt there primary task).

 

2nd advantage:

 

Merchant vessels due to there slow speed were easy targets and most were completly unarmed, this was due to there ship being a cargo hauler and the way the hulls were built, the advantage that corresponds to that is merchant vessels of the big bottom drafted vessels should have more crago space than frigates, this will give lower class frigates (38 guns max) no chance in out performing a merchant vessel in that role.

 

3rd advantage:

 

They should be cheap and easy to produce, makeing it a easy proffesion to get into and not make merchants run dry if they lose a couple ships, this will in turn make players take more risk and pirates can have more targets to profit from, helping the economy chug along at a nice pace.

 

Thats just my idea i hope you  guys like them! please comment on this thread and continue the ideas flowing on this topic, the merchant marine should be just as interesting as a naval career. 

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All good points in my view, would also suggest having some kind of convoy system you can attach to, but that would be a long term feature due to it likely being complex. Where you get the cover of AI ships if not players whom can take "contracts" to protect the convoy and get x amount for doing it, giving incentives to people to be protection.

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All good points in my view, would also suggest having some kind of convoy system you can attach to, but that would be a long term feature due to it likely being complex. Where you get the cover of AI ships if not players whom can take "contracts" to protect the convoy and get x amount for doing it, giving incentives to people to be protection.

 

It iz planned as was confirmed by dear Admiral Commander Sir Admin Adminson.

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I like both posts, but I think you have to consider some basic truths too.

 

Merchant ships made money by the following.(I use a simple cargo vessel example)

 

More Profit:- Greater cargo capacity (At expense of speed agility and armament) e.g big fat hull for storage, no gun decks

More Profit:- Small crew (At expense of speed of sail handling and inability to man large numbers of cannon) so less expensive wages and stores required

More Profit:- Less spars. Less wear and tear and easier to manage with a small crew. Generally merchantmen did not have topgallants  Royal sails/yards nor studding sails.

 

I wouldn't exclude players using more martial ships for hauling cargo but the cost of keeping this ship at sea compared to the relative smaller cargo hold would seriously restrict its profitablity

 

Convoy systems I have posted on before and I truly hope they can be a part of the game and provide more protection to your venture. Often insurance was not available unless a ship agreed to travel in convoy.

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Wherever did you get that idea? A brig or ship without topsails after 1740 or so is unimaginable.

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Wherever did you get that idea? A brig or ship without topsails after 1740 or so is unimaginable.

 

Apologies I did miss quote myself. (Its been a long day)  I should have quoted Royals (1 above the top gallant), which were generally only present on warships.

 

As an aside an obvious identifier of a naval ship if seen on the horizon

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I like the idea of merchant vessels, but there should also be a mechanic in place making note of draft.  A heavily laden vessel will have a deeper draft and may run aground on coral reefs or sandbars, adding a bit more realism to the game.  Also, a shallow draft vessel may use this advantage to evade a deeper drafting vessel over such obstacles.

 

And I'm not to sure how the mechanic of crew pay will fit in (if at all).  A well paid crew would be better motivated than a poorly paid one.   This could help a merchant retain a well trained crew, thereby increase ship performance.

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Crankey the customization that your saying for most of it (the crew excluded) is i think in the works, but i disagree with you on the point of excluding warshisp after all this is a game and if most poeple have the choice between a warship or a merchant ship to carry goods and would carry the same which would you pick? i would presume a warship for many reasons and BOOM, merchant ships dont exist, or are only seen as stepping stones to the bigger warships. Specialized ship classes should be involved just for the sake of playability, lets say you come up against a convey, instead of maybe 6 ships protecting slow and unarmed merchant ships, you have 6 frigates protecting 12 more frigates, and knowing most poeple those frigates will have cannons and crew doe sthat sound like fun to you?

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Crankey the customization that your saying for most of it (the crew excluded) is i think in the works, but i disagree with you on the point of excluding warshisp after all this is a game and if most poeple have the choice between a warship or a merchant ship to carry goods and would carry the same which would you pick? i would presume a warship for many reasons and BOOM, merchant ships dont exist, or are only seen as stepping stones to the bigger warships. Specialized ship classes should be involved just for the sake of playability, lets say you come up against a convey, instead of maybe 6 ships protecting slow and unarmed merchant ships, you have 6 frigates protecting 12 more frigates, and knowing most poeple those frigates will have cannons and crew doe sthat sound like fun to you?

Im not exactly sure what you are meaning but to me it sounds like you think everyone will be using frigates for trade. But Crankey has already noted three reasons why a merchant vessel would be profitable as uposed to a patrolling frigate paying off a huge crew wager/maintenance.

 

I would definitely use a merchant vessel for hauling cargo but would travel in numbers for protection. If you do get overwhelmed chances are you couldve got overwhelmed in a frigate anyway. Got to take the risk and hope you plot a safe course.

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what i mean is simply, in a vedio game the lines are blurred on a customizable game, if you were given the choice to carry 300 tons of cargo in a slow, unarmed vessel or on the other hand lets say a 38 gun frigate could carry 300 tons of cargo while fully crewed and armed for battle would you rather sail a merchant ship or your 38 gun frigate fully armed, faster. thats what i mean.

 

I dont want any ship in NA to just be a stepping stone, all should have a niche they can fill and in the sake of playability paying your crew will probably not be included so there will be no downside to useing a frigate over a merchant vessel.

 

Also being overwhelmed in anything means your going to lose, so that doesnt really make the merchantman and frigate any diffrent, the argument here is to make merchant vessels usefull in the grand scheme of things, not a ship to just grind through.

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what i mean is simply, in a vedio game the lines are blurred on a customizable game, if you were given the choice to carry 300 tons of cargo in a slow, unarmed vessel or on the other hand lets say a 38 gun frigate could carry 300 tons of cargo while fully crewed and armed for battle would you rather sail a merchant ship or your 38 gun frigate fully armed, faster. thats what i mean.

 

I dont want any ship in NA to just be a stepping stone, all should have a niche they can fill and in the sake of playability paying your crew will probably not be included so there will be no downside to useing a frigate over a merchant vessel.

 

Also being overwhelmed in anything means your going to lose, so that doesnt really make the merchantman and frigate any diffrent, the argument here is to make merchant vessels usefull in the grand scheme of things, not a ship to just grind through.

O right i definitely agree that a vessel with no gun decks and a wider hull will have more cargo capacity then the equivalent ship with a narrow hull and gun decks.

 

However i'm not so sure about the stepping stone bit. I don't believe they will make ship progression in open world like we have now (damage) which is just like world of tanks. I think you will start with a starter ship and you could have multiple routes to go down.

 

Privateer: sell your soul to a country and be given missions to maybe capture/loot an enemy faction ai/player vessel. 70%(estimate) of your spoils goes to the crown but you are safe in your own waters.

 

Pirate: like privateer but you are your own boss and you choose who to go to war with. Being able to keep 100% of your spoils (although maybe pirates crews might have higher wage cost to balance this)

 

Merchant: use your yaught to do goods and eventually get a bigger ship from the profits expanding your business until you have a treasure galleon transporting 5 million dollars from Americas.

 

royal navy: aligning yourself to captain for a navy maybe having to prove yourself with a yaught intercept mission and maybe being given new vessels upon completing enough missions until you could eventually get a 1st rate if you are contributing so much to the said navy. But that being said you don't own your ship the crown does so if you are disobedient you could be deranked and forced to withdraw your ship for a smaller class vessel or face the entire navy trying to kill you (maybe this is how we could become a big ship pirate) 

 

I think there are more sub professions like smuggler, bounty hunter etc. But i don't think we will have a system where we have to do damage to level up.

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I do not advocate the exchange of cargo space for guns right off the bat but I do hope to see the cargo weight to be modelled. That will make the difference.

 

I can take my frigate to be a blockade runner, packing two full decks of cannon and full cargo bellow deck, but I expect the handling of her to be painful.

 

Take it a bit earlier in time, spanish castle galleons were massively armed and still were the main choice for precious metal transportation. Cargo does not replace guns. Cargo messes up ship handling and response as the mass is too high if you have full cargo loads.

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Merchantmen and warships are both tailored for their respective roles and passable at best when used for the opposite purpose. 

 

You can up arm an Indiaman, but it won't be able to carry as large guns as a similar sized warship because Indiamen are built narrower so their high-capacity boxy hullforms don't cost them all speed.

 

And you can strip out a frigates maindeck, reduce the crew to the minimum required to sail the ship and man the guns that are left, but it still won't carry as much cargo as an Indiaman of the same length and will actually have less firepower. The only advantage would be speed (and the chance of scaring off people who don't realize you are unarmed).

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I understand that a Navy would commission ships with specific tasks in mind and would keep them at the tasks at hand, but wouldn't a private enterprise take advantage of standard designs to carry a multitude of missions, say a Brig with full gun complement acting as a tea trader or a Cutter with increased gun positions acting as a privateer and hauling cargo to the closest friendly port. I don't understand the need to take out the firepower if I carry cargo. I simply give up speed and agility of the ship.

 

So in theory full customization would be a game design option huh !? That could become interesting.

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Warships don't have spare room for cargo. Well, not much at least. Their holds aren't as big as a purpose built merchantman, and what room you have is taken by provisions, ammunition and spares. Which you need a lot more of, since a warship has more crew, more cannon (and fires them more often) and is more likely to have to repair battle damage.

 

You don't have spare room on the gundecks either, that's needed for the aforementioned guns and for crew quarters. You don't need the weather deck for crew, but you don't really want to put any serious weight up there either.

 

So if you want to carry any bulky cargo (high value low volume doesn't count) you will need to remove guns and the crew needed for them, which frees up space both in the hold and on decks. And if you aren't looking fights you don't need many spares either, so suddenly you do actually have a decent amount of cargo space. Not as much as purpose built merchantship, but enough to be useful.

 

Any opportunistic cross between carrying cargo and privateering will be a compromise (but quite possibly a functional one), you can't have full cargo and full armament so you'll have to balance them.

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To those afraid merchant vessels will not be used, well, as mentioned. They have a diferent hull shape than a frigate. EvE Online also has one of the best virtual economies and vast vast amounts of low value, high bulk items are moved around daily. The game even has highly specialized ships, from jump frieghters that can jump hundreds of minutes of space travel in seconds to blockade runners that can use a cloaking device to move high value items. And most industrial ships have no real armor to a sustained attack.

 

  So why do players fly those 'weak' ships? Because they see the risk/reward and feel it is better to make less trips in a cargo vessel than in a battleship, which carries often a tenth or less the cargo space. It is easier, quicker, and more profitable to move the cargo in cargo ships than warships....even if the cargoships are slower overall.

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Another issue to consider is that cargo ships traveled great distances for months, even years, before returning home with their goods.  They needed the extra cargo space for the additional supplies for the crew, and to make the trip worthwhile (money wise).  Where many of the war ships, especially the frigate class, spent most of their time in coastal regions where they could make inland trips more often to resupply, so they didn't need such a large hold for crew supplies.

 

I also think if one does some research, they will find where piracy was high, there were some cargo/merchant vessels arming them selves for protection.  But being a open sandbox and being allowed to form corporations, there will be convoys of merchant and war ships together.  It may even be a means where some corporations/players make additional money as a escort service.

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I understand that a Navy would commission ships with specific tasks in mind and would keep them at the tasks at hand, but wouldn't a private enterprise take advantage of standard designs to carry a multitude of missions, say a Brig with full gun complement acting as a tea trader or a Cutter with increased gun positions acting as a privateer and hauling cargo to the closest friendly port. I don't understand the need to take out the firepower if I carry cargo. I simply give up speed and agility of the ship.

 

So in theory full customization would be a game design option huh !? That could become interesting.

 

Define "standard".  There really wasn't a dealership for ships - you tended to hire a shipwright to make you some plans (or you copied a captured enemy vessel and blueprinted it), but quite a few ships, I believe, were nearly one-offs.  There might be a half dozen similar to them, but you might have small differences and changes from ship to ship.  I'm also not sure that you had any centralized repository at the time either, so again, other than commissioned Navy designs, one shipyard might have access to a few different brig plans, another might have access to an entirely different design.

 

There also seems to be an idea here that you can just pull a cannon and add the requisite weight in cargo.  That might be possible, but the two are not interlinked.  They occupy very different parts of the ship, and their weight is born differently due to the difference in mass and meta-centric height.  A warship might be narrower than a big, wide-hulled Indiaman of the same length.  This gives each different speed and handling characteristics.  They also had different hull thicknesses and materials.  You can't take a purposebuilt merchantman and put the same cannon on it that you could the same size of warship.  The mounting points for the cannon breechings weren't reinforced the same - heck, the deck itself might not have the strength to bear more than a 4 or 6lb'er, even if another ship of the same size is wielding long 24s.  

 

So at the base of it, a dedicated, purposebuilt merchantman will generally be better designed to carry cargo than a warship of the same size, just as that warship will be better at carrying a huge load of large-bore cannon that the merchantman couldn't ever hope to mount.  At the same time, you had particular merchant ships that were reinforced and designed to carry a larger number of cannon than was usual due to their role.  So while you could put a decently large cargo of specie into a warship to be "safely" conveyed somewhere, when you started talking larger, bulk cargo, the merchantman will be superior in holding capacity at the cost of the armament the warship enjoys.  It's not one to one, but a ship not designed to carry heavy armament in the first place is difficult to convert to do so.

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Sadly the arguemnt isnt about cannons and loadouts, its about cargo capacity and game logic (remember in a game everyone thinks diffrently about risk and reward than in reallife) in a fully armed ship of war, with provisons included for a 3 month journey is the average, but in a game why couldnt i just take half the size of my biggest cannons all fully crewed i could take half the cargo space of a merchant vessel so i would make two trips, but with an extra 3-2 knots of extra speed, two decks of cannons, and a full complimet of crew plus enough provisions JUST to get to my location.

 

The merchant men carrys more, yes but thats its only advantage over the frigate. 

 

Remember in the game world specialization because everything is quantified, is much easier and repetitive tasks can be farmed.

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