While I'm not wholly convinced that a system of grinding slots open on ships is the best idea...if that is what the Devs want us to test, I'll test it. Here is what I have learned from a few hours aboard the ship Trincomalee on the testbed server and what I think should change.
Here is how it currently works on testbed:
I want to sail Trincomalee, I unlock 2 slots, then to unlock the third slot, I get a message that I need to unlock 4 slots on a Surprise. I unlock 2 on a Surprise and get a message that to unlock the third slot, I need to unlock 3 slots on a Renommee. I haven't unlocked anything on Reno yet, but it seems like it will just keep stair-stepping down to the cutter.
What kind of stuff is this? Because I want to sail a Trinc effectively I have to learn how to sail a Renommee? And then what? Brig?
NO! People will not do this. You can argue all day that you don't "have" to unlock all the slots. But if you want to be effective, yes you do HAVE to unlock all the slots on a ship. The current system favors those with hours and hours to grind up almost every ship in game. I don't like grinding, but as long as the grind you ask me to do is reasonable, and worth it, I'll grind.
So If you want to make every ship a grind to "yeah, I'm a Rear Admiral on this ship," then ok...I don't like it but I'll do it for every ship I sail often. But don't make me grind up my ship xp level on ALMOST EVERY ship beneath me just to unlock the slots on the one ship I might use.
Here is (what I think is) a better system, lets use the 4-5th rates for demonstration:
Trincomalee is my desired ship, slots cost as follows: (these costs are quite reduced from what is on testbed to reduce the grind needed on each ship)
1: 1,000 xp
2: 2,000 xp
3: 6,000 xp
4: 10,000 xp
5: 25,000 xp
So I grind her up to 25000 xp and I have a perfect 3/5 Trinc . But wait! I want to sail a Constitution into a port battle now. Do I have to grind up a bunch of xp on it to get some slots open? I mean, I know so much about the Trinc, I can't image a Connie is too terribly different? No! You don't have to re-learn the Connie, some of your experience on the Trinc will transfer nicely, but you'll still have to sail the Connie a while to get used to her particular points . Here is how it works:
Frigates (4-5th) rate ships have an xp pool of 30,000 xp and any time you earn xp sailing ANY frigate, the pool fills some. So I gained 25k xp sailing my Trinc, that xp has gone into the pool. Here is how the pool works, each time a certain amount of xp is reached, a slot unlocks on all the frigates, whether you have sailed that particular ship or not. The pool will only unlock the first three slots:
1: 10,000 xp unlocks 1 slot on all frigates
2: 20,000 xp unlocks 2 slots on all frigates
3: 30,000 xp unlocks 3 slots on all frigates
So for this example, I have earned 25k xp sailing the Trinc; which means 25k xp has gone into the pool, and I have unlocked 2 slots on every frigate by specializing in the Trinc. I'm also only 5k xp away from unlocking 3 slots on every frigate. After I earn that xp and reach 30k in the pool, 3 slots become open on all frigates, but I have to sail the particular frigate I am interested in to unlock the last two slots on it.
This means that you can sail ANY frigate to gain ship xp that will transfer to other frigates. If you are just leveling up, you will have time to try out different frigates, till you find one you like, and you have not "wasted" any xp unlocking slots on a ship you don't plan on using.
What do you think?