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Guide to solo piracy or how to hunt with a style

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On 7/14/2017 at 8:06 PM, Wallentinus said:

The best ship for Solo Hunting is: LGV

  • With smuggler flag on you can dock any port
    • revenge fleet pointless if u are able to dock their port
    • can take pause anywhere
    • can repair cheap
    • can sell the loot
  • 3 knowledge already open
  • Can be fast as the surprise
  • Better turning
  • Better sailing profile
  • 1900 cargo means the repairs wont make you slower
  • Fewer guns but u have crew for Marines
  • Can buy almost anywhere a new ship

You hit the right button there :) This is an interesting idea I have been paying with for some time.
There are few issues with LGV that I need to test. Specifically the survivability with 2 stern cannons.

Keep in mind its not mean to be a fighting ship, so if it will be used as such left and right it will be nerfed.
Until then its indeed a fearsome opponent. I had a fight ones against a guy in LGV who knew what he was doing. I did win but barely. It was a very hard fight.

If I go alone to pick up some important loot I take LGVs in fleet and sail LGV too. I make sure that my cargo is one peace that can be destroyed in one go, thus making my ship capable to fight

On 7/14/2017 at 10:20 PM, Red Jack Walker said:

Thank you Koltes :)!!! A great and useful guide!!! Absolutely love it!!:wub::wub::wub:

You are welcome Sir. Thank you for your kind words!

Edited by koltes
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5 hours ago, Wallentinus said:

The best ship for Solo Hunting is: LGV

  • With smuggler flag on you can dock any port
    • revenge fleet pointless if u are able to dock their port
    • can take pause anywhere
    • can repair cheap
    • can sell the loot
  • 3 knowledge already open
  • Can be fast as the surprise
  • Better turning
  • Better sailing profile
  • 1900 cargo means the repairs wont make you slower
  • Fewer guns but u have crew for Marines
  • Can buy almost anywhere a new ship

I have an LGV hunter, it is a tricky ship to master in that task.  You have to be just as selective on your hunting routes as a Privateer or a Lynx.   But the same token a well built trader snow can do the same job, possibly better due to its chasers and heavier weatherdeck carronade mounts.    While it is slower, than the LGV, and has less crew it has a better turn rate and better overall guns.  BUT it has VERY thin masts. 


It takes some practice to get good with the combat trade ship.   But there are a lot of advantages.

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I tried to attack an LGV solo in my Snow. It beat the shit out of me for the most part. I can really see the merits of a good LGV bait ship..no knowledge slot grind. Your a magnet. Good enough guns.

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4 hours ago, Flinch said:

I tried to attack an LGV solo in my Snow. It beat the shit out of me for the most part. I can really see the merits of a good LGV bait ship..no knowledge slot grind. Your a magnet. Good enough guns.

Was it a player LGV?  Because I have never had a problem with an AI LGV in my Snow.  


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14 minutes ago, Hodo said:

Was it a player LGV?  Because I have never had a problem with an AI LGV in my Snow.  



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7 hours ago, Flinch said:

I tried to attack an LGV solo in my Snow. It beat the shit out of me for the most part. I can really see the merits of a good LGV bait ship..no knowledge slot grind. Your a magnet. Good enough guns.

If they are carrying cargo, they are harmless. Too slow to be a formidable foe. If they are empty and giving you hell just disengage. There is no point fighting it and potentially losing lots of repairs (that should last for the entire hunt) or even losing the ship.

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On 7/11/2017 at 1:47 AM, rediii said:

True, but that's not what I mean. :) 

What I wanted to try is to build a Renommee which can theoretically go 18kn or so. Ofc it's hardcapped to 15kn so I would put many Jib sail bonuses on the ship so it can still go 15kn downwind, even with negative mainsailforce multipliers, but it would still be insane fast on every other course. TBH I only did a little test but noticed a insane drop when sailing 135 so my theory was that everything is working with the hardcapped 15kn and not with the theoretical 18kn (acceleration, other sailingdirections etc.)

Apology for the late reply.
We actually had the same discussion going with one of my clan mates and ran few exercises. Here some info for your consideration.
Lets talk about 90° (beam reach), 75° and 60° into the wind and see how much above 15kn the Reno needs to be to match 15kn Surprise on the same POS.

PIC1. Surprise POS profile:
@90° - no penalty (15kn - 0%) = 15kn
@75° - 12% penalty (15kn - 12%) = 13.2kn
@60° - 26% penalty (15kn - 26%) = 11.1kn

PIC2. Renommee POS profile:
@90° - 14% (17.5kn - 14%) = 15kn
@75° - 26% penalty (17.85kn - 26%) = 13.2kn
@60° - 40% penalty (18.5kn - 40%) = 11.1kn



I just hate to think what you need to throw on the Renommee to get 18kn speed and even then she will be barely matching just 15kn Surp. It is possible to run 17kn Surp setup and then to figures will look like this:

PIC1. Surprise POS profile:
@90° - no penalty (17kn - 0%) = 15kn (speed cap)
@75° - 12% penalty (17kn - 12%) = 14.96kn
@60° - 26% penalty (17kn - 26%) = 12.58kn

PIC2. Renommee POS profile:
@90° - 14% (17.5kn - 14%) = 15kn
@75° - 26% penalty (20.2kn - 26%) = 14.96kn
@60° - 40% penalty (20.96kn - 40%) = 12.58kn

I don't think its possible to reach 20kn on Reno even with all possible upgrades. This makes Surp far more superior ship on other POS angles. She can fly with the same speed as Reno, carry more repairs, use more slots for boarding, have more guns etc...
Yes she can be very speed competitive with other ships, but soon as proper taggers on Surps come out to hunt you there will be problems.
I wish my Reno would be back too, but unfortunately she has been dry docked for better times.

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Good guide Mr. K. 

Especially the player-interaction part. I try very hard to not get into too much shit slinging in combat, makes the experience overall better even if I lose. I had a 2v1 (not in my favor) recently and I spent it making pleasant small talk while fighting to the bitter end. Also made fun of myself when I screwed up a repair.  Ending the fight with "Good fight, was fun" keeps the sting of losing the ship down and keeps me motivated to re-equip and go back out. 



Edited by Rhodry Heidenrich
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3 hours ago, Rhodry Heidenrich said:

Good guide Mr. K. 

Especially the player-interaction part. I try very hard to not get into too much shit slinging in combat, makes the experience overall better even if I lose. I had a 2v1 (not in my favor) recently and I spent it making pleasant small talk while fighting to the bitter end. Also made fun of myself when I screwed up a repair.  Ending the fight with "Good fight, was fun" keeps the sting of losing the ship down and keeps me motivated to re-equip and go back out. 



Awesome man! This is great! Your game will also be 100% more pleasurable too

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks guys. The update will follow soon as we have set mechanics in place. Something more solid that doesn't change with every patch. Some mechanics described in the guide are no longer applicable, but as a solo hunter this should still set you in the right direction.

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1 hour ago, koltes said:

Thanks guys. The update will follow soon as we have set mechanics in place. Something more solid that doesn't change with every patch. Some mechanics described in the guide are no longer applicable, but as a solo hunter this should still set you in the right direction.



This if I may disagree, and is a poor excuse from a lazy pirate for delaying A Practical Guide on how to Kill Koltes…”. Think about it this way, strip out the actual mechanics of your guide and truthfully what do you have left really…?

Still pages and pages and pages of priceless insight. Just last week Pilgrim replied to a mail I sent him on his guide “Captain Collister's Ship Guide...” although dated in parts I still recommend it to the newer player to get a BASIC frame work of his way up the skills tree. It works beyond the Game Mechanic



This is what makes a good guide. I’m not in yours or Pilgrims class of writing NA guides but my [ELITE] Combined Crafting Guide shows how dated they can become. Yet it still holds ideas to building your own solutions to crafting problems.



Strategy and Tactics like your guide transgress the “here & now… about to change…” in game mechanic.  So, please stop with the excuses and put Quill to Paper…


Norfolk nChance.


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  • 1 month later...

Ever since I joined this game all I've done is solo hunting ships, mostly traders. This guide sums up a lot of what I've taught myself although in some areas I disagree. After reading your post I've come to the decision that I'm going to try out the Suprise myself - so far I've only sailed on a Rattlesnake and Prince de Neufchatel. I'll tell you how it works out.

I recommend this myself to anyone and to read through the steps taking in every detail. It's one hell of an introduction and guide to the world of privateering! Get off your traders and capture yourself some more. Thanks  for posting.

Edited by Lz3
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  • 1 year later...
On 7/10/2017 at 6:44 AM, koltes said:


1. Introduction
2. Hunting vs Trading
3. What makes you money
4. Hunting areas
5. Tools of the trade
6. Player skills
7. General notes

There are number of ways you can get PVP in Naval Action. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of hunting in small fleet for example is that you could take on bigger targets and larger groups. The disadvantage however is that you need other people to hunt with and this could be limited at times. You will also have to share your fortunes and fame and sometimes limited to what your mates want to do.
I have been mostly a solo hunter ever since I have raised the black flag. The freedom to act, the thrill of being chased, earned fame, fear and respect gives second to none satisfaction.

As a solo hunter you will sink a lot at the start until you master the trade, so be ready and don’t worry about it. The good thing is that losing your ships won’t break your bank as most expensive parts of your ships will be the upgrades.
It may sound strange, but in your early solo pirate career you need to make sure that you sink a lot. This will achieve the most important thing - you will become ok with sinking. You will stop being afraid of sinking. Being ganked or losing the fight will not have a negative effect on your fighting abilities. And most importantly instead of getting upset and being salty with your enemies you will actually enjoy being sunk due to having challenging game and would congratulate your opponent, which means you will ALWAYS get pleasurable experience from the game no matter if you won or lost the fight.
Get the right attitude and not only your skill will improve, but also your gaming experience.

In this guide I will share some first hand knowledge that I’ve learned from my clan mates, from my enemies and what I have learned from my own experience sailing solo for a year and a half. I will teach you few tricks of the trade that will come handy, will help to avoid few mistakes and hopefully save you  a bit of money and time.

Solo pirates are a special caste. It requires lots of work and a long road to become successful, but it’s sure as hell worth it. And what’s more important the path itself is very enjoyable too.

I will not go into basics such as what rank you need to sail 5th rates or crafting level to craft Surprise or what building and the materials you need. If you haven’t figured this out yet then you might want to wait with hunting solo. All I will tell you is that you need to be able to fully crew your 5th rate (higher the rank the better it is) and be able to provide yourself with ships, cannons and consumables. Being in a clan also helps because your mates can craft you the ships and upgrades.

You can say that you have become successful hunter when your hunting starts paying for itself so you don’t have to trade or do PVE missions in order to afford your solo pvp gameplay.
As a trader you will always make more money. Always… Unless you keep running into me of course. Then its the other way around, but no one is that stupid :)
Before you decide to go solo you need to make a call of what is more important to you. What are your ultimate goals in this game. Some people play to accumulate in-game assets. They are awesome at trading, finding those sweet deals and avoid seadogs like you and me. They make millions of cash and every day that they play they make 10 times more than you do. I’m ok with that. Are you? The way they experience PVP is by setting aside a budget that they happy to invest into PVP experience. In their mind they have already lost or prepare to lose this money/assets. Because of that they don’t like to go over that budget so if they have sunk too many times we won’t see them PVPing as active until they fit within their budget again.

We are the opposite. We might be short on cash and this will make us go hunting more.

Let’s make this clear right from the start. You are not going down the solo hunter path to earn lots of money. In my humble opinion its not what its about. I hunt purely because of the experiences that I get out of it. Whatever assets that you have earned in the game will disappear when you stop playing (which will happen eventually), but your experiences, your achievements, the joy will all stay with you in your memories forever. Well that’s just my opinion. It also depends on how good your memory is too :P

Everything that we do in terms of earning money is dedicated to provide us means to pvp. This is the key attitude there. Do not be afraid to lose your assets. Below I will show you how you can afford to PVP all day long without trading at all.

As devoted PVPers you will come across few valuables that others will buy off you.

- Combat Marks. Fortunately PVP victories pays out well. Just make sure that before you sell them you have all the books, bow figures, upgrades, BPs etc. Saved Combat Marks could go be sold for a good amount of gold. Current price is a 1000 per mark. You get 200k gold for 200 marks.

- PVP fights also good source of income. That’s of course if you can win them. Most of the time I will sink the ship to get experience from the kill, money and combat marks.

- Sealed bottles may also come handy.  Relocating from one area to another means you are on long sail trips, might as well get some fishing done. You always must be alert though. If you meet the enemy fleet and get tagged you have little time to convert fish to meat and then get rid of it. Else you will be so loaded you won’t get away. A bit risky, but I was careful enough not to get in trouble yet because of that. Collect your sealed bottles. Open them in your friendly waters so they are as close to your capital as possible. You will have to collect them on a trader. Labor hours can be sold for some good easy profits if you lucky enough to get them.

- Capture player trading ships. You don’t get much rewards for sinking them so capturing them and delivering to your capital to sell in the shop is a good way to make money. Trader Brigs is your money making machine in the early stage of your hunting career. They are defenseless and provide good source of first PVP combat experience. You will need to learn how to cap them, how to turn them into wind. How to keep the tag. All this requires some training and there is no better way than to practice on traders that can’t sink you. Currently Trader Brigs can be sold quickly for around 50k which is a good income for the beginners. When you are an established hunter and just started your hunting day and got your trader brig captured, check the loot. Nothing valuable? Sink it. Keep looking for other traders. You will get some cash for sinking the ship + the Combat Marks. You will also get some experience that you need when you grind those skill knowledge slots of your ship. It’s not worth to go all the way back to your free town base just to drop off 50k worth of ship that you still have to deliver to your capital later. That of course is you are not short of money to get you the replacement ship, cannons and upgrades.

Remember we are not here for the money (they will come anyway if you do everything right) so unless you are wrapping up your hunting day and ready to go home, don’t bother too much. It’s better not to miss opportunity to tag a bigger fish.
Then there are your best finds - Indiaman. This is a true trophy stag. The ship itself has a lot of value even if its an empty trader. You should always bring it back home because it won’t get much better than that. Each India can be sold for 500k quick cash. Make a spreadsheet and start 8 column database. Collect your Intel. When you see players sailing one take notes. You want Name of the player, his Rank, his Clan tag, Ship - Fleet that he sails, Place and Time spotted. Also if you tagged him in distance from land then he is on a specific course. Work with your map. Note his Bearing, draw a line. Find which port he left and where he is heading to. Here is my version.        

Clan Name Rank Ship - Fleet Departed Bearing Place Time
BLACK Koltes Curse India - India, India Carl WbN, Savanna La Mar KPR 11:55 PM

Reason why I like to run spreadsheet is because you can sort your notes by columns and study specific area. It’s amazing how much and how fast you will gather the information. Soon you will be able to see which areas gets lots of activities. Make sure that you type names of the places first and then make notes, so when you sort by that column it sorts properly.

- Player loot. Sometimes you score the jackpot and get that India man with a good load of trade goods. I capped one with x4 Parisian Furniture. Sold the goods and the ship for little over 2mil.

- Capture player fighting ships. Yes, sinking it gives you experience, money and Combat Marks, however. Sometimes you will get lucky catching damaged players coming out from missions and you could get yourself a nice fighting ship. Mission grinders usually pimped up their ships well, which means with all the upgrades it will sell well. Good 4th rate could easily go for as much as million or even higher considering the installed upgrades.

Start with capital. Yes right away. How else are you going to learn? Remember you will need to sink a lot so you get accustomed to being ganked. This will help you to keep your cool in any situation later. I always say its better to lose lots of low rate cheap ships earlier and learn your mistakes than sink your expensive ships later to the same mistakes.
You need to practice running. Reading and predicting the wind. First thing I did when I become a pirate I got me half decent rattlesnake and went straight to Charlestone. When I joined BLACK on PVP2 I asked where is a good place to find PVP? I’m outside US capital at the moment. The guys were like, this dude is asking where to find PVP and he is outside enemy’s capital and his rank is only Raider. Yeah, he is BLACK material, get him in. He will learn fast… and I did. So be bold.

Hint #1. Every time you dock in free port check what trade goods are sold in the shop. Make notes of the most expensive ones.
Hint #2. Trader tool is your friend. Check it regularly (preferably straight after downtime as thats when its most updated). Take notes where are the most expensive trading goods usually are (dont forget to filter by “A” column (Available). That’s where you find lots of traders. Be smart. Hide, let them collect the goods and tag them on their way back. If they spot you they will stay in port.
Hint #3. Look for best and heaviest building materials. To pull out Live or White oak you need a large ship no smaller than LGV. Most likely will be India. When you find one don’t tag him right away. Note the bearing. Check where he is heading. Make notes. Often they sail afk on long sails. An easy afk catch. 
Hint #4. GB and US clans like to leave their capital and setup in some distant areas where they can develop safer. Again, work with trading tool and some online 3rd party websites that give you info where to find what. Obviously resource rich regions will have players naturally setup there or near by. Such port for example is Cartagena de Indias. It almost has everything in it. There you will find traders almost guaranteed… as well as few revenge fleets which is great because you want to be ganked as much as possible so you learn how to get away. At the end of the day what is a true pirate who doesn’t like challenges?
Hint #5. The whole Antilles Islands are packed with nations. Danes, Swedes and French. You sail North to South you almost guaranteed to meet few traders. You also have lots of free ports there to setup hunting bases and drop off you catch.
Hint #6. Most “young” traders will trade close to their capital as its just easiest way to make money despite competition. So do check other nation ports near capitals. Remember that no matter who those ports currently belong to they still produce trading goods of their original nation.
Hunt #7. Once you have decided on the area, sail there and work it for a day. If you spent few hours there and saw nothing or only couple of targets, then move to the next one. Good hunting grounds will give you targets every hour in average. Of course some days could be quiet, but in general if the area is busy its busy.

There are few crucial items that a true solo hunter should possess. Just like in the real life dedicated hunter would have his trusted gear designed and tested for the specific type of work. Once you truly start hunting other players you will quickly realise that your gear is half of your success.

You want speed, speed and speed only. Everything dedicated to speed and I can’t stress this enough. No matter how good of a fighter you are you will get sunk by a revenge fleet if they can catch you. So they must not. Ask yourself how. The answer is simple yet complex. You need to be faster than them.

In pre-patch speed cap such a ship was Renommee. My black Brest Harbor Reno was a menace to sailors around KPR. Flying close to 17kn she was one of the fastest if not THE fastest boats on the server. Being so light she would take off easy very quickly increasing the distance. Today when even Connies are as fast on the same Point of Sail (POS) as Renos, this role have been solely taken by Surprise due to her wonderful sailing profile. Next time you take her out count how many stay sails she has. Nine of them. This allows her to sail against the wind very fast for a square rigged ship.

There are lots of crafter building tools online that will give you information on best speed setups. The best speed built in my opinion is Fir Frame / Bermuda Planking. It has same speed characteristics as Fir / Fir, but less penalties to armor, HP and leaks.
So Fir / Bermuda is your base Surprise built and you can work from there with upgrades.

If you have never sailed Surprise start immediately. Good thing is that you already given one for free as redeemable. It is Bermuda / Bermuda, but it’s good enough to start with. If you dont have one they are not that expensive to make or buy.

Be advised. The hidden information is pre 10.4 patch and is now outdated. New info pending.

  Hide contents

(!) There is a myth that if you hit 15kn speed cap with your upgrades then throwing extra speed upgrades will be useless. That’s not true at all. Putting more speed upgrades is still very much beneficial, because it allows you to carry more weight at the same speed cap as well as travel faster in other Points of Sail. Read that last sentence again please and let it sink in.
Allow me to explain this with an example:

You’ve got your Fir / Bermuda Surprise that does 12.35kn base speed.
You put couple of upgrades and make it 15kn on spot with cannons, but no repairs. You have hit your speed cap right? Wrong.
Adding 100kg repairs will slow you down to about 14.6kn - 0.4kn loss of speed.
Then if you put an extra skill knowledge, for example Optimized Ballast that gives you extra 3% max speed your maximum speed becomes 15kn + 3% = 15.45kn less 0.4 for weight of the repairs = 15kn max speed.
This means that your maximum speed is actually not a hard cap. It has hidden values. Your ship can even be 17kn with all the upgrades. Yes in Battle it won’t travel faster than 15 due to the cap, but this means it has Reserved Power of 2 extra knots to carry more stuff. Meaning you can carry more and still be on 15kn max speed.
Does this make sense?
Hold tight! There is more. The faster your ship goes past 15 kn cap the faster it will accelerate. The cap only comes in place when your ship has hit 15kn mark. But all other parameters are treated as 17kn ship. It accelerates as 17kn ship. It turns as 17 kn ship. It carries weight as 17kn ship etc.

Let’s have a look at other Points of Sail. The reasons why Surp is such a good choice for solo hunting is because of its excellent sailing profile against the wind. The simple fact is even if your speed stats reached 15kn max speed by throwing more speed upgrades you will increase your speed against the wind which is perfect considering that it’s the angle you will be doing most running at.
Here are the simple numbers to visualize this effect.
Surprise A has maximum speed 15kn
Surprise B has also  reached 15kn speed cap, but threw extra upgrades so the hidden value is 17kn.
Let’s have a look at Surp’s sailing profile. At 60° angle he has 25% of loss of power.
Surprise A. 15kn - 25% = 11.25kn on 60°
Surprise B. 17kn - 25% = 12.75kn on the same angle. 1.5kn faster. It still goes same 15kn speed downwind due to speed cap, but goes faster where ships cant reach the cap.

What does this mean? Your Surp can actually hit 15kn speed cap from 180 to 90 degree POS. No other ship can do that. Most ships that can speed cap do that strictly on 150°.
I have physically ran few tests outside Mort on different setups and made a comparison table.

One word - longs. If your ship = speed = distance, than your cannons needs to be able to hit from the distance. In NA shorter the range of the cannons more damage they deal, but this also means that you will receive more damage in return and your paper armorer ship will not like it. Simply put longs gives you more flexibility. They can hit at all ranges.

Those a must have if you don’t want to sail back and forth wasting most of your game time on sailing rather than hunting. The amount of repairs is largely depend on how fast your ship is. You want to take as much as you can without sacrificing too much speed. For example if your ship does 15kn on 150° angle and your repairs slows you down to 13.5kn then check if there are any more upgrades / skill knowledge that you can throw in to increase the speed further and cap max speed while carrying more repairs.
Surprise eats 7 hull, 10 rig and 72 rum per repair in the battle.
This is why on long voyages I usually carry
49 hull = 7 in battle hull repairs;
70 rig = 7 in battle rig repairs;
216 rum = 3 in battle crew repairs.
If your Surp doesn’t go much faster than 15kn hard cap you will have to reduce these amounts of hulls and rigs. Rum weights little.

They are your single most important survival tools in the battle and in the open world. It may sound obvious, but you must ensure that your sails are healthier than your opponents so in SHTF situations you still will be in control if you need to disengage.
General tips on saving your sales:
- if your opponent is sailing fighting ship, but is a newb you can try to take on him right away and tag him close. If you appeared to be mistaken and he is in fact going to kick your butt you could disengage, get on to the right POS and hit repairs;
- if your opponent is sailing fighting ship and you think he is pretty good you could tag him in distance and work his sails down. Test him and decide if you want to stay or keep fighting.
- when enemy working your sails down it’s always bad. Try to mitigate damage to your sails by turning and lining up both yards with the line of fire to expose as little sail area as possible. Also depower during enemy fire to protect stay sails. During this phase you are testing what canons your opponent has, his shooting skills and if he has rig repairs. If he hit repairs early and you still have the distance don’t bother to repair. You will always have enough time to repair and get away. If he has mediums or carros you got an advantage of distance. Go 750 meters away (1.5 square on the in battle map) and work his sails down. He will be missing most of his. If he still hitting your sails increase the distance a bit. You want his sails to be badly shredded when you repair and get in close to get on his stern.

I have tried all sorts of different setups to fit various play styles and found that this one is the most efficient.
Prepared. When you get into battle you want to be able to start shooting right away. This will help you to get out from hard situations or shred sails of those nimble fore-to-aft traders before they have a chance to run away. Having this perk will allow for great flexibility at the start of the battle. Once you logged into battle instance, but before battle started you can switch loaded cannons to Double Shot or Chains however you like starting the battle all ready with an itchy finger on the trigger.
Double Shot. It is basically carronades loaded in your longs that deliver huge alpha damage in one go at short range. They even act similar to carronades in terms of aiming and accuracy and penetration. Beware your penetration will be greatly reduced so you can’t use them for sniping at long distances. In my view this perk  is more important for your type of fighting than Double Charge which has better penetration. Once you are ready to engage the target close and personal and rake his stern, load Double Shot and you will take it out in one go even if you miss few potentially saving you lots of time zig-zaging behind the enemy and reducing the battle time.
Rigging Specialist. Remember, your sails is your life. This one reduces sail damage taken by 15% as well as adds 10% to your sail repairs so when they are really shredded, it helps to fix them back to 100% again.
Emergency Master. Once you get into melee range and start fighting with the opponent for wind and angle positioning your ship’s turning rate will become just as important as your sails. Having an ability to reduce repair time by half goes long way in winning the combat.
Fleet control 1. This is needed in order to turn your hunting into money. At the end of the day you have to deliver that loaded trader to sell it. Common sense.

Speed upgrades are the most important ones here.
Bow Figure Gazelle +5% maximum speed
Crooked Hull Refit +6% maximum speed
Bovenwinds Refit +5% maximum speed
Those are what you need. Find them. Pay for them. They worth every penny. Whatever it cost. Better still get the BPs and be able to craft them yourself. Look up places where you can buy them. Work one night, make a trip and bring enough to make you few upgrades.
Copper Plating is cheap man Bovenwind replacement. It will do too

Skill Knowledges
If you don’t have at least 3 slots opened on your Surprise you have to start working on them now. Dedicated hunter will have all 5 opened in no time. I got all mine done through 100% PVP. Its doable, but if you can't win lots of fights then it's probably better to grind with AI first until you get your first 3 slots. I would even suggest making Surprise heavy on armor (Live Oak / White Oak) and go grind missions. Its that important to have.

Do not use Studding sails on Surprise. Those gives you push downwind, but negate upwind power which is canceling what Surprise is shines at.
Staysails should be used instead. It will negate some of the downwind push, but those maximum speed permanent upgrades gonna still get you to 15 kn max cap. Staysails will increase lift power against the wind making your ship traveling faster on various points of sale, not just downwind like everybody else, thus gives you very large room to maneuver and improvise. You will be able to race people downwind and at the same time will be much faster upwind if you need to disengage.
Optimized Ballast gives another 3% to maximum speed further increasing your racing capabilities.
Art of Proper Cargo Distribution is stackable with Optimized Ballast and gives additional 3% max speed.
Art of Ship Handling is what you REALLY want to get. It will make you an ultimate hunter and fighter.
Found as recipe. Needs:
1x Notes on the Best Rudder Angles
1x Art of Proper Cargo Distribution
(from Black Spawn’s [modules] ShipUpgrade book modifiers [Patch 10.3] guide)

In other words you will sail 4% faster while being able to turn on a dime and what's important maintain your speed while doing that.
Muskets and Pistols is an excellent skill to throw in. I would even sacrifice any of the 3% max speed skills above to take this one. Having paper thin armor you will be fighting in true pirate style - first crippling the enemy then approach and take them by abordage (boarding. - french). This means that most fights that you will be winning will end up in boarding. Having this upgrade gives you lots of shooting power and another offensive option.
(!) I would vote against Marines. They have been greatly nerfed. Taking them on board also cripples your crew, which you can’t really afford.

You can use whatever you like for the 5th slot. By this stage your ship will be mighty fast. It will be able to carry x7 repairs of each type and x3 Rum and still be faster than anything comes to race against you.
Boatswain - allows for faster crew transfer. Great for macromanagement of your crew when you have to switch between tasks. It also helps to prep for boarding faster.
Boarding Cannons (my personal preference) - if you have taken Muskets and Pistols it will help to deal more damage to your enemy. Good to have.

This guide assumes that you already have some fighting experience and know the basics such as manual sailing and boarding. I will not go through basics of how you have to do those things. There are plenty other guides that you can use and train. I will just set the standard for you to look up to. I will also share some hints and tips and mention things to look out for. 

Manual Sailing is absolutely crucial skill you have to master and must be used every time when you want your ship to turn. Practice it always even when you are fighting AI in missions. This should become a second nature for you to the point that when you sail in OW (not in battle) and start turning your fingers will automatically want to manual sail. While Auto Skipper will set sail for the best position speed wise controlling your sails manually will increase your ship's turning ability, thus allowing you to win positioning in the duel.
You should master manual sail control to the point that you use it without thinking just like driving manual car. Your car won't move if suddenly you stop controlling its gear. Same here. You can't afford to be selective and lazy and not use it in “easy” situation like fighting AI. You must use it all the time taking every opportunity to practice. Its very easy to understand and learn and not so easy to master. Every little tiny mistakes you make will come at your own cost.
(!) If you turn your sails slightly, just slightly incorrectly it will catch on wrong wind and slows your turning, which often means you either have to re-approach (which takes more maneuvers and time and means you might do more mistakes) or take damage. And you can’t afford to take too much damage in your paper thin ship.
There will be a moment in every single fight when you have to outturn the enemy and you just can’t afford not to. Often you will only have one chance to approach and board before your ship falls apart.
Practice, practice, practice, so it's ALWAYS perfect and I just can’t stress this enough.
(!) Practice tacking through the wind. You are an amature sailor until you can do 8kn tacks on Surprise. What this means is that you can tack so fast that at the moment when your ship is directly facing the wind during the tack you are still doing 8kn speed. Anything below that and sooner or later it will cost you your ship believe it or not. If you hate tacking, learn it until you fall in love with it. Tacking should feel swift and easy. When you start feeling your ship so well, when you play in the same tune with her, you can execute perfect tacks without even looking at the wind indicator with your eyes closed then you can start using tacking to get away from your enemies or outmaneuver and win positioning. If enemy is on heavier ship or not too good at controlling sails manually (by that time you will be able to judge your opponents skill quite easy)   it will take him longer to tack no matter what he does. This means you will get on the other side faster and speed up for few seconds while he still finishing his tacking maneuver. Once he has done his tacking you already got enough speed to perform the next tack and so on. Each tack will increase distance between you and your opponent and there is nothing they can do to prevent that. They will have an option to give up tacking and give you broadside of chains and you need to be able to read their intentions and position sails so they take less damage and take off after that. Hit repair if you need. You have just escaped. Time to open that bottle of champagne trophy from French trader you took the night before.
(!) Do not drop sails to slow down. This is bad. There is no skill in that and you just wasting time. Good sailor will always predict his wind position. For example if you need to stop fast you would be in Beam Reach or slightly facing the wind. Then flip all yards onto the opposite side facing the wind and using your sails as stopping power. Don't forget to depower your stays too. You will stop 5 times faster helping you to arrive and stop where you need to be for the boarding. 
(!) Often your opponent will depower or drop sails trying to make you overshoot them so you could take a broadside of their “hospitality”. Using your sails for breaking will greatly assist in not overshooting the enemy. Watch the speed, flip sails back and forth to maintain the same speed that you need.
(!) Practice maneuver we are calling “Candle”. Its when you sail Beam Reach, depower and flip your sails onto the opposite side until your ship stops completely. Notice that your sails are still fully up. Once your ship stops it will be pushed backwards. You will need to line up your sails with the wind direction to cancel your sails power. Play around with it until you can reach completely stationary position 0.0kn while your sails are fully up. This maneuver allows you to hang in the air in one place and if you need to suddenly take off you just hit “F” for Auto Skipper and you will gain speed in mere seconds.

Raking is another skills you have to master. In sailing naval warfare, raking fire is fire directed parallel to the long axis of an enemy ship from ahead or astern. In our case it mostly will be from astern (behind the enemy). Of course not all your rakes will connect perfectly, but if you master them enough they will be devastating for the enemy. Again I assume that you are familiar with shooting and know when and how to use Locked or Unlocked firing modes. Some people use Unlocked firing when they rake the ship and I strongly advise against that. Unfocused means all your cannons aim at one point in a cone.

The best damage done to the stern and the crew is when each cannon’s fire connected directly perpendicular to the stern thus your shots will cover longer distance in enemy ship and cause more damage. Unfocused fire mode is best used when you need to take out rudder because you want you shots to aim at one point. However for Grape shot to maximize damage to the crew it is easier to use Locked fire mode. You cannons look directly perpendicular to your ship and enemy’s stern. Obviously you're firing needs to be set to Roll from the front cannons. As you pass enemy ship behind fire soon as your front cannon aim reached the ship. With a little bit of lag your first shot will connect in the center of the enemy stern. As you ship moves forward empty cannon will be replaced by the next loaded cannon which will also fire into the enemy’s stern and so on until you unload all cannons into the enemy’s stern.

Another reason why to use Locked focus is because you will not be required to turn into the enemy ship to connect all your shots like you would have to do if you would use Unlocked. Turning into the enemy ship will expose your ship for his broadside. Instead of turning into the enemy’s ship using Locked sector focus you would turn away and avoid most of his cannons, then re-approach again for next stern rake and repeat the process.

(!) When you have done your graping properly you will take out 150+ crew in one go.
You could also play “boarding whistle” mind game with your opponent. Hitting 9 for boarding whistle will let your opponent know that you are preparing for boarding. Often they will do the same and you will hear their whistle as well. After hitting 9 , hit it again straight after you done whistling. This means your crew is still on cannons and while he is preparing for boarding. More crew will be transferred to boarding more devastating your graping will be.

(!) Your best raking will be done in the samurai fighting style. Very little movement, two slices and your opponent is down. Here is how in step by step:
1. Before battle has started use your prepared perk to load Double Ball on the side that you will use for the first raking;
2. Load grape on the opposite side;
3. Give your opponent Locked sector rake with Double Ball taking his stern out in one go;
4. Soon as your ship passed his hit 9 to give him an early boarding whistle and letting him know you are preparing for boarding. Receiving such powerful rake will often make your opponent to start preparing for boarding as well and you will hear their whistle. Do not cancel your boarding;
5. Turn around and give him Locked sector Grape raking. By that time he will be half way prepared for boarding and if you done it properly you will take out 200+ crew in one go putting him into crew shock;
6. Turnaround, push him into the wind and board;

All this can be done in less than 4 mins sending your opponent to the nearest port with that “WTF just happened?” moment.

Boarding skill is just as important as everything else. Your ship is not setup for duels and exchanging fire. If you give your enemy too many opportunities to broadside you it will be a lost fight in no time. That’s why boarding is your main fighting style and this is how you will be taking out 95% of opponents. Outmaneuver, stern raking while staying away from his guns, kill crew, then boarding. In that order.
It's imperative that you are good at boarding. This is the time when your ship is most vulnerable. If you start losing boarding it will be incredibly hard for you to break away and run. You can get jumped by his friends too while in boarding. This happened to me also putting me in the worst situation possible (he is the video of what happened). He could also have some boarding upgrades or skills to make your life more difficult.

(!) Generally most of your solo hunting skills will be done by killing crew prior boarding to you can win 100% of the time.

(!) If you lacking crew, but still must board hit Rum repair the moment right before you engaged in boarding. It could be changed later, but now it works and for the first 2-3 rounds you will be gaining crew during boarding as some will be “fixed” by Rum.

Practice boarding with friends, on AI, or other players. When you have your friends with you ask them not to sink the guy, but let you board him. Get as much practice as you can possibly have.
Boarding is a pure mind game. Using offensive action in last seconds might confuse your opponent, but beware he might be able to use the same against you. This is where your Muskets and Pistols will become handy as they give you another option to attack and confuse your opponent.
Do not Attack when they are Bracing and have same or equal crew and morale because you will inflict just as much damage to yourself.
If you done your raking properly and he has lost lots of crew prior your boarding his moral will be low, but if you had to board early try to trick him into using his offensive skills in the last minute reducing his preparation (make sure to be on defensive. If your moral just as high you can take 2-3 attacks even while Bracing). Once he is below 50 in prep you can start shooting with Muskets in the last seconds without fear of being counter attacked.

After the battle this is when it become handy to be of a higher rank as you can restore your crew in the OW without using Rum.

The Wind Whisperer is who you must become. The wind is the only driving force that gives you power. It's also the same to everybody else. Knowing how and when to take correct wind positions will literally save your life. It's a little use to have a speed boat when you don’t know how to power it.
Read carefully, use and master Captain Collister's Escapomatrix by Pilgrim. Even though it’s outdated it is still true on most general POS. In my early solo career I used to have it open all the time constantly alt-tabbing to refer on which POS I should be running from the specific ship. Today its part of the nature. This knowledge has sunk in and burned into my memory core. I come up with the right answers instantly not wasting my time on checking the references. This means my response to any situation is also much faster.
Open World wind is constantly changing. As a true sailor you will always tell the direction based on where the wind is coming from. Not where its blowing to. 
Every 2 minutes the wind changes 1 notch. Make this a rule to note wind direction every time you enter the battle. After battle is over you can easily calculate where the wind is coming from without even leaving the battle instance. Sometimes you will get caught in a tricky situation surrounded by lots of taggers. Using defensive tag (when you know that you can’t escape and you tag the enemy early so he appears in the battle far away from you, thus allows you to run and escape the battle) you will often have your enemy’s mates waiting for you outside the battle. Because your best running away Point of Sail is beam reach or even slightly more into the wind it would be nice to have the right wind in the OW. If you are able to calculate the wind from within the battle don’t rush to leave. Calculate and if you have to stay until the wind changes to your preferred direction. This will give you an advantage when running through the blockade. Nothing worse to be locked with the wind blowing into the land on a such angle that you can’t run into the open sea. If you do get caught use defensive tagging again. Buy yourself some more time from within the battle, then exit on the right wind.
(!) When running turn on laud your Situation Awareness. See who is following you and what chances you have against them. Identify their tagging ships that will be racing you. Those are your priorities. Defensive tag again if you need to.
Also be aware what’s going ahead of you. They will try to use all sorts of tricks. Teleport to the port you are heading to to cut you off. Use wolf pack chasing to intercept and come at you one by one and keep turning into the bad wind. Again defensive tag, wait for wind to change then try again.
By this time you have sunk lots of times in your early career which is now hopefully helps to keep your cool. Enjoy the chase. Its also part of the game. This is your most dangerous time. Play with fire, but don’t be cocky. Nothing will make your chasers laugh louder when you’ve been so cocky and then got caught and sunk like a newb. During defensive tags talk back to them. It is ok to mock them a little, but don’t be a troll. Few jokes is enough. If you do get caught in the end, thank them for the wonderful chase. Tell them that you have enjoyed your time and the challenge. Congratulate them. Tell them that you will be back with wounds licked up and the revenge plan.

Reading In-Battle wind is also crucial. If you are chasing, try to be between their best wind direction. This way pointing bow at them will put you in better wind position and you will have better chances catching them. If you are running from the enemy you want to face the wind slightly and the enemy to be behind on the other side of the wind. This way they have to stay parallel to you, but won't be able to shot. Every time when they turn away to give you a broadside they will be sailing away from you. Coming back will be harder and harder each time they do that. Pointing bow towards you is also not an option. Not only this is not their best wind position, but also they have to be facing sharper into the wind, thus getting more resistance.
During the fights you need to watch your opponent and how he uses the wind. In the past when leaks were much more powerful it was imperative to win the position. If you could get to the enemy’s leeward side his ship will be heeling away from you exposing his lower hull. Placing 20+ holes under the water line would ensure a fast sinking ship and used to make people call you a cheat. We very much hope that leaks will be rebalanced again and come back to its glory.
Even without leaks winning the wind is still important  because it will allow you to stern camp the enemy ship and not take the damage.

Know your limits. If you get too cocky you will get caught. Know when to retreat or disengage from the fight. If the enemy is really good at manual sailing and you already took couple of full broadsides maybe it’s the time to let him go. You are not sailing on the fighting dueling ship. You are sailing the “glass cannon”. Always remember the terms that you are prepared to fight on. Don’t let the enemy to dictate their terms. If they do - disengage. Look for weaknesses, not challenges. This is what good fighter will do to kick stronger opponents. Being faster than your enemy allows your to play by your rules. Remember that you are in control. If you can sink them they can’t run. If you can’t sink them they can’t catch you.

Knowing your limits also means don’t give up too early. I had people chasing me for hours and I would identify the weakest target and work my way to separate them in the OW. Pretend to give up, but always be alert. If there is a mistake on their part then hit fast and finish rapidly. They won’t know what just happened and how you have ended up tagging someone while they were chasing you.
Sometimes you get lucky and chasers make a mistake escaping too early leaving some of the their guys behind in the battle. Usually it’s the fastest ship that is the weakest so keep an eye on the rest of the party. Tag your closest chaser once others start leaving. If they were tagged they are now 1 on 1 with you. It’s very disturbing for them when they came hunting you in numbers and you still managed to sink some of them.

Show good personality to your enemy. In my early career when people didn’t know me I used to hear lots of trash talks. Now, people start recognising me as a decent person and I start having nice conversations in the battle. When I sink people they seem to be less salty. They even congratulate and thank me for the lessons. I do the same in return. Little bravade in global is allowed if you don’t troll and thank them.
Remember we are the special caste. We live and fight by our own rules. If people start trolling you badly in the battle or global, just ignore.
Bigger the trolls - smaller the balls. You can trust me on that. If they get too loud challenge them for a duel and they get quiet. It works like a magic. All of a sudden they need to go. Pirate Magic!

Don’t be an assh..le. Let people go too. If you see the guy clearly don’t know how to sail because it is his first week in the game and he asks to let him go do it. You can tell if people are new. He probably doesn’t have anything valuable in his cargo hold anyway. Breaking people’s bank is a sure way to get them upset with the game.

During our war with CKA before October patch, we used Port Antonio as our base for hunting in the area. I personally used it to help GB newbs. When I saw person could not really afford the ship he just lost I would ask them to come to Port Antonio on basic cutter and give them money, often time more than what they lost.

There were multiple instances when a new person is trying to fight you and get stuck in irons and just can’t get out of it. I would start talking to them, we cease fire and I would explain how to get out from the irons. We would use the battle instance as training ground for some basic manual handling.

Sometimes I let people go even if they are the highest rank. Not that long ago I tagged a trader and he said that he really needs to go on appointment to see vet. His cat was suffering from pain. You don’t know if they are lying or not, but its them who will have to live with their conscience not me. This one wasn’t lying. Even sent me in game main telling me that his cat is now doing better.

Don’t be a DH rule is what will make you a better player in the long run too.

Be adventurous. Check different areas on the map. Don’t be lazy to sail. Pre-plan where you want to be the next day and start sailing a bit early. Watch a movie in between. Get into destination and log off. The next day soon as you logged you can start hunting and “working the area”.

Screenshot everything. You hunt for personal achievements and challenges and we don’t have a killboard. I use imgur.com. Making albums by area where I worked. If I sink / capture someone, I take a screenshot with their name and then place it in the album under that area where he was tagged. So later if I need to check who I was catching around Cartagena de Indias for example I just select Cartagena album and voila. Sometimes I do the same with specific clans or even individuals. Nothing more satisfying to answer to someone’s trolling in global with an album of screens where you sunk him number of times.
I suggest checking ScreenCloud app. It allows to set hotkeys combination to take screens. It will allow to take a screen of just a specific part of the screen. And what is more important is that you can link to your imgur account (or other image storage provider) and ScreenCloud will automatically upload your screen and copy the link. So when you take a screenshot you can place the link to it in few seconds without doing all the work. Great tool.

I wish you best of luck in your endeavors. Hope this write up have been helpful. Hit me up if you have any questions. I don’t do personal training outside clan, but will be happy to answer any questions.

Sail dangerously my friend.




Hi Koltes, it's an excellent guide,  and I have learnt a great number of useful  things thanks to you:)

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On 1/29/2019 at 4:46 AM, BlackHeartTheThird said:

Thank you for such a detailed submission on this topic. Is the Surprise with the mentioned build and upgrades still a good choice for this type of play style? I've been away for a couple of years and it seems difficult to find updated information.

The guide is 1,5 year old now and needs to be updated. I have quit about the same time so unfortunately cannot answer your question. I have heard that Endymion is a better choice for solo hunting atm, but I might be wrong. Someone might have a comment here to answer your question. Otherwise its a good idea to ask in the game... few times :)

When the game will be released I will check it out and If I choose to play I will keep this guide updated to my best ability.

Good luck

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If I may say, the guide is very good and still relevant. Repeating what I’ve said above. YES, the game mechanics have undoubtably changed. However, the strategy behind the tactics have not...

So, look how @koltes watches for patterns and routes. Using the Trader tool to find profitable 2-way trade runs etc... Then equip one’s self with the right ship and load out to intercept...

Seriously, its more about the concept rather than the tactics.


Norfolk nChance [ELITE]


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