Jump to content
Game-Labs Forum

Boarding guide

Recommended Posts

Boarding Mechanics Short Guide

Naval Action has now a new boarding battle system. It is round based as the previous system but it includes more commands and utilizes many new tactical factors such as “Preparation” and “Morale”.


Commands have counter commands. If you are actively defending the attacker has to have significant advantages to overcome your defenses. In particular the boarding battle is consisted of two main phases.



Before you decide to board the enemy ship you need to press the Button “Boarding”. In “Boarding” mode your ship is able to throw grappling hook to drag the enemy ship, while it slowly increases its “Preparation” for Boarding. The more “Preparation” you have, the more commands you will be able to use during the boarding phase. So, if you plan to board an enemy ship or you sense that your enemy is going to board you, it is advised to build up the “Preparation” value, to increase your chances for victory. Be warned however, that while your ship is in “Boarding” mode, all other activities have reduced efficiency, such as reloading your cannons or sailing.


The Boarding Battle

When the enemy ship is close and slow enough, you will see a message that advises you to press “G” to start the boarding. Once boarding starts, it will appear a window that consists of the following information:

Crew & Marines: The total amount of men that are participating in the boarding. Numbers get reduced according to inflicted damage per round. If all your crew dies, then your ship is captured by the opponent.


Morale: The starting morale depends on the losses you have during naval combat. If during boarding the morale becomes zero, then the ship will withdraw or surrender, depending on the situation (See: “Attack/Counter-Attack” and “Disengage” commands below).

Preparation: The battle starts with the amount of preparation you have built up. During boarding, preparation is slowly increased per round and is vital for using the boarding commands. Every command needs a specific amount of preparation. If you do not have enough preparation for a command, it will be unavailable for the round. Additionally, each time you switch to a new command, a small amount of preparation is spent which gets increased a lot at the end of the round. Hence, you need to wisely use commands in order to keep preparation high enough to counter the commands of your opponent.


Muskets/Cannons/Melee: The amount of kills expected for next round categorized according to the commands selected by you and your opponent. For example, if you choose command “Musket Volley” then “Muskets” will have an expected damage calculation, while “Cannons” and “Melee” will be zero. These indications help to understand the power of the commands before they are enabled in the next round.


Battle timer

Each boarding round has a duration of 15 seconds. During this phase you can choose the command to use versus your opponent for the next round.


Command Next Round

This indication shows the command currently selected that you and your opponent are going to use in next round. The decisions of your opponent are visible during the round, so this helps to react accordingly. Each time you switch to a command there is a “cool-down” time that prevents you to switch to another command. Consequently, you will not be able to switch commands frequently during the round and is needed careful planning and decisions to counter the opponent’s commands at the right time. The available commands are the following:


Brace: This command is the default used at the start of boarding and when a previously selected command is no longer available. With “Brace” your crew heads for cover to reduce casualties from ranged attacks and some men fire back. “Brace” is ideal to protect your crew against incoming fire and increase your preparation for other commands.


·         Effective vs “Musket Volley”, “Fire Deck Guns”, (Reduces casualties)

·         Minor effect vs “Fire Grenades”

·         Very Vulnerable vs “Attack/Counter-Attack”

·         Very Little effect vs “Defend”


Preparation cost = None

Duration = 1-Round

Reload = None
Cool down time = Low


Defend: Your crew assembles to face a boarding charge and very few men fire from afar. It is the most powerful response vs “Attack/Counter-Attack”.


·         Very Effective vs “Attack/Counter-Attack”

·         Very Vulnerable vs “Musket Volley”, “Fire Deck Guns”, “Fire Grenades”

·         Very little effect vs “Brace”


Preparation cost = Low

Duration = 1-Round

Reload = None
Cool down time = Medium


Attack / Counter-Attack: You send a boarding party to attack the enemy ship. If you reduce the enemy’s morale to zero while this command is enabled, then the enemy surrenders the ship to you. Attack, Counter-Attack is very powerful vs all commands except “Defend”. You need to have great numbers and increased morale to win the “Defend” command of your opponent. Furthermore, if there is deck difference between the ships, the attacker faces heavy penalties vs the defender.


·         Very Effective vs “Musket Volley”, “Fire Grenades”, “Brace”

·         Moderate Effect vs “Fire Deck Guns”

·         Very Vulnerable vs “Defend”


Preparation cost = High

Duration = 1-Round

Reload = low
Cool down time = High


Musket Volley: Organized firearms volley inflicting casualties from range. It is more powerful when your ship has more decks and crew than your opponent.

·         Very Effective vs “Defend”

·         Effective vs “Fire Deck Guns”, “Fire Grenades”

·         Minor effect vs “Brace”

·         Very Vulnerable vs “Attack/Counter-Attack”


Preparation cost = Low

Duration = 1-Round

Reload = Low
Cool down time = Medium


Fire Deck Guns: The available upper deck guns of your ship can fire at the enemy while it adds some protection against Attack / Counter- Attack. Damage is higher if your ship has more decks.
Note: The command is unavailable if deck difference between the ships is greater than 1 or you have lost all your upper deck cannons.


·         Very Effective vs “Defend”

·         Effective vs “Musket Volley”, “Fire Grenades” (Depends on available cannons)

·         Moderate effect vs “Attack”

·         Minor effect vs “Brace”


Preparation cost = Medium

Duration = 1-Round

Reload = High
Cool down time = Medium


Fire Grenades: Your crew tosses grenades to the enemy while initiating a ranged attack. It is more powerful when your ship has more decks and crew than your opponent. The explosion effect makes “Brace” almost useless. However, your men are more vulnerable to boarding attacks.


·         Very Effective vs “Defend”, “Brace”

·         Effective vs “Musket Volley”, “Fire Grenades”

·         Extra Vulnerable vs “Attack/Counter-Attack”


Preparation cost = Medium

Duration = 1-Round

Reload = Medium
Cool down time = Medium


Disengage: By enabling this command you try to escape from your opponent. While in Disengage mode, you are unable to Attack/Counter-Attack, and because a large proportion of your crew is allocated to cutting the grappling hooks and moving away your ship, there is decreased efficiency in defending your ship from boarding or ranged attacks.


·         Disables “Attack/Counter-Attack”

·         Reduces damage of all commands

·         Reduces “Brace” effect


Preparation cost = None

Duration = 4-Round

Battle Log

In each round, damage is dealt from both sides and is reported in the Battle Log. Kills are categorized in Firepower Kills (Fk), Boarding Kills (Bk), Outside Kills (Ok). Firepower kills are inflicted by muskets, grenades, cannons. Boarding kills are caused by melee. Outside kills can happen by fire of other ships that do not participate in the boarding.


How you force the enemy ship to surrender

As mentioned above, you capture the enemy ship if:

- You kill all enemy crew

- You reduce enemy’s morale to zero, while you “Attack / Counter- Attack”


If enemy ship has zero morale and you fail to capture it while it disengages, then it escapes successfully.

Edited by Nick Thomadis
Updated info according to patch 7/8/2015
  • Like 27

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A follow-up:


I tested using a common privateer (crew 55) versus some contraband cutters (crew 20) or lynx (crew 20). My add-on upgrade is 'basic marines'. My permanent upgrades are 'extra planking', 'extra bow planking' (both fine quality) and a common quality 'copper plating'. Each battle I simply reduced the enemy's sails using chain shot to slow them down enough to board. I left my cannons loaded with chain shot for the entire battle. I moved in to board with full preparation. I was careful not to kill any of the enemies' 20 crew members before starting a boarding, so the tests would be consistent.


For the first 3 battles, I opened up with 'use deck guns' and in all 3 battles I killed the entire enemy crew in one round :ph34r:. The enemy most often used 'counter attack' and only killed 3 of my crew. Battle essentially over before it began, each time.


The next three battles, I used the same initial tactics in preparation for boarding, but for the actual boarding, I chose 'attack' starting out. I was able to take down 5 enemy crew or so each round, but I was taking losses as the enemy usually chose 'defend' as the appropriate counter tactic. The battle went my way but each time I would lose about 1/3 of my crew. These were unnecessary losses and I'll explain that below.




I like the idea of 'fire deck guns' and think it should remain as a boarding tactic, but frankly it is just too overpowered and almost illogical in its current state, for the following reasons:


1) 'Fire deck guns' takes a mere 9 seconds to cool down (EDIT: can be used every 2 rounds so the cool down is actually a bit longer), (not sure if this varies based on cannon size), which means that my 6 broadside 6lb'ers can be ready again to fire during boarding even more quickly than I can reload them while not boarding. This is an insanely fast reload time for cannons under any condition, but particularly puzzling when most of your crew should be focused on boarding which would actually penalize reload times, not accelerate them to superhuman rates.


2) 'Attack' is more risky and less effective than 'fire deck guns', which pretty much defeats the point of boarding at this point. If I wanted to reduce the enemy's crew to zero, then I don't even need to board, albeit it takes longer, since it's going to take about 30 seconds or so to reload grapeshot if I'm just sailing around firing my cannons. I can just board and fire my cannons point-blank range and win, or I can choose not to board and just chip away at the enemy crew with grapeshot from a distance and win. Basically, we don't need no stinkin' swords, we got cannons either way.


3) Cost-versus-benefit: 'Fire deck guns' costs 15 prep. points and lasts one round with a 2-round wait before using again. 'Attack' requires 30 prep points and locks you in 'attack' for 2-rounds, leaving you vulnerable to an appropriate counter during that second round. You'll take more losses. Basically, I can kill more crew with fewer prep. points using 'fire deck guns', and have less risk to my own crew. Problem: I can see players spamming this to make boarding rather uneventful. It will become a 'fire deck guns' nuclear war with each player just cutting away large swaths of enemy crewmembers every other round, and no one will even touch the other options since they are pointless. Assuming both players choose 'fire deck guns' from the start of boarding, the person with the most crew will always win.



I encourage anyone else to run similar tests, perhaps in PVP versus people in ships they don't mind losing. My largest ship at the moment is a privateer (I couldn't buy one in port, but some pirates lent it to me after I killed all their crew ^_^) and I haven't tried this in large-crew battles, but I imagine the results will be the same, being that there's not much benefit to using any tactic when compared to 'fire deck guns'.


TLDR: During boarding, the only button you need click is 'fire deck guns.'


Answered my own questions:


1) No, it does not matter what ammo type you use. Chain shot is essentially useless for clearing away crew members prior to boarding (grapeshot works the best), but during boarding it instantly kills an entire trade-cutter crew in one round. I never changed ammo types from chain since the start of each of my test battles.


2) Apparently it does not matter whether you have your cannons loaded prior to boarding. 'Fire deck guns' is a selectable choice right from the start. Even if you just fired off a broadside before grappling the enemy, this option will be available to you in round-one, with apocalyptic effectiveness.


Open to suggestions on how to improve this.


EDIT: Second follow up, tried again with my privateer (55 crew) versus a trader snow (65 crew) for more even matching, and it was still doable simply by switching between 'defend' and 'fire deck guns' the entire time. Granted this was versus AI. Not sure if human opponents could do better at countering, they probably could. Also, I was incorrect as the reload/wait times between 'firing deck guns' is 2 rounds, but this is still quite rapid considering its potential for abuse. My losses were heavier, but still nothing compared to using 'attack' which is more expensive in terms of preparation points and leaves you committed for 2 rounds, vulnerable to an enemy counter.

Edited by ajffighter86
  • Like 6

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Man I just now saw this guide, no one ever told me about it before  :o


Anyways it seems like the TLDR version is:


- Only use defend if you see them attack

- Only melee attack or brace (2nd choice) if they use a ranged attack (fire deck guns, muskets, or grenades)

- Use ranged attacks if you see them defend.

- Attack when they have no prep left to defend.


Since everything has cooldowns/prep cost, I guess a general strat would be save defend for melee attack, after they melee attack start using ranged attacks.


If you select a command like attack, but then switch to say fire muskets before the round ends, I assume your attack does not go on CD?  You are only just charged a little prep cost right?

Edited by Booyaah
  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.