Mostly moved (didn't move edits of the IP number editor)
Winning a blockade requires excellent blockade coordination. Long before the ships set sail, there is a lot of work to be done.
General Notes Edit
As a good war master, you should make sure you are available to your flagmates to answer questions both in game and on your flag's forum (hopefully you have one). You should also have regular communication with the Flag Ambassador & Dock Spy postions. Keep the flag updated as to what is happening and what needs to be done. Because many of us have young impetuous people in our crews and flags, it may be useful to remind people of what it means to be good sports and the importance of being gracious, win or lose.
Pre-blockade Preparation Edit
Things for People Other Than You to Do Edit
Flag Ambassador - Start checking with your allies and potential allies about what kind of support you can expect to get from them. The also includes "support" via a mutual ally staying neutral during the blockade contested by two allies.
Dock Spy - Size up the competition's fleet by having people periodically check the dock and taking note of the ship names and owning crew of anything that's a war brig or larger. This info can be double-checked using /vwho later because ships can be moved using all sorts of temporary crews or allies. This should be tracked in an spreadsheet with the following fields: Ship Name, Ship Size, Crew, Flag.
Alt Blockade Crew Edit
The alt blockade crew serves a lot of purposes.
- allows for the entire flag to participate equally as a team by using alts (or even main pirates if they wish)
- having the alt blockade crew publically & internally makes it a flag effort because no one flag crew is used in particular
- taps the entire flag for assistance in ship moving
- during ship moving, no normal crew has to risk their PVP rating in case of various attacks
- lets you use those odd crew name puns that you wouldn't normally get a chance to use :)
- makes things easier to coordinate during the blockade itself
I made anyone that was an officer in a flag crew a senior officer in the Zeta Blockers which is Autocratic. This worked perfectly for us because those senior officers could create officers when the captain wasn't on, covering the time zones during which I wasn't awake. This also allowed ship deeds to be moved into the crew using the individual crews' officers instead of having a giant mess of deeds all held by one person. It's critical that you have enough flagmates as officers+ in the alt blockade crew as you will need them in order to be able to give deport, give gunning orders, give navigation orders, help restock, and give reports on how damage is going. The instructions I gave to officers were:
- Officers in ZB will be assigned to help navs. There will be at least two of you per nav in case of disconnects or needing to go or just supporting each other.
- You'll help with giving orders to nav, gun, deport and port. For gunners the nav will either tell you who or have you select.
- Keep crew chat to a minimum and use /o instead. I'll be asking you for damage reports occasionally (or yell if your ship is in trouble).
- When it's time to port, I'll ask you if a new ship is needed or if the ship is not filled with damage, I will need to know the stock levels on board so we can restock. The nav can give you guidance on if a new ship is needed.
- Be prepared to help shuttle people off to the correct new boat. Make sure to use the full name of the ship as just the fish name isn't enough for some of the more excitable folks.
- If you run MSN, give me your ID. We're also doing teamspeak. For both of these, please keep the talking to a minimum as it's mainly for nav talk and coordination issues.
- Let me know if you've any questions.
I used the private crew information to contain a list of alts & their main pirate names so everyone could easily see who everyone else was. The crew info was also used to give more specific instructions, but in general everyone just knew that any ship in the crew that wasn't at Zeta needed to be floated up there. Public crew information was used to just let people know that it's our alt blockade crew and listed the main jobbing contact.
The biggest advantage to the alt blockade crew comes during the blockade itself in the arena of jobbing. Because all the ships are in one crew, there is no vast mess where people have to be jobbed to a different crew when they need to switch to another undamaged or unsunken ship.
I'd advise getting as many "sinkable" war brigs as possible with a couple of war frigs. A few cutters are okay, but not really such a good idea if there are real contenders in the blockade. You'll also need a merchant galleon or 2 merchant brigs to hold supplies. As stated before, all these ships should be moved into the alt blockade crew. Keep track of the ship info in a spreadsheet such as Excel. I used the following columns: Ship Adjective, Ship Fish, Ship Type, Crew, Flag, Original Deed Holder, Location, Order of Use Ranking. Almost all ships were moved up completely empty. If they had supplies on them, I asked to have them moved to the merch supply ship(s) to make initial stocking easier to do without hopping on all the ships (also makes it so you don't reveal the entire fleet at the dock all the time). When you figure out your list of ships, you'll need to make some decisions as to which ships to use when. I ranked ships for earlier use if that crew had a lot of them and crews with only one war brig were much later in the useage list. I also had a couple of special ships that were considered last resort ships. If your allies are bringing ships into the blockade on your behalf, you should be tracking those in the same spreadsheet, but they won't have ranking as their flag will decide that.
It's not that hard to job into a crew and "spy" on the number of ships they have at dock, but there's also really no need for you to broadcast this information to the ocean/your competitors. I usually decline to answer when asked for specific ship numbers unless asked by the Monarch, Royalty or a Flag Captain.
Non-Sinking Note: In a non-sinking blockade you will probably have more people willing to put in ships (as will contenders and there will probably be more people just wandering into it for fun). If it's non-sinking, it's okay to use some cutters for flag sitting depending on the amount of opposition and what the blockade board looks like.
Get lots of supplies, mainly fine rum & medium shot and a fair number of large shot if you think you will be able to get enough for a war frig. We sailed these supplies up in sloops using the same kinds of methods people on trading runs use - fast sailors and avoiding battles (Cutters are more efficient time-wise if you have at least one Leg/Ult sailor to bring you up to full speed quickly). At a minimum, you should figure 125 med shot/50 fine rum per round multiplied by the number of war brigs multiplied by 5 rounds (The old blockade system consisted of 12 rounds). This will vary again depending on your navigators' styles. You'll need to balance between giving ships enough stock that they function well in the round and the chance that everything on board will be lost to sinking. Keep track of the supplies in a tab in the spreadsheet as well. That lets you also track what's been used, so you know if you're starting to run low and need to run a restock run during one of the long breaks.
Non-Sinking Note: "Sinking" in a non-sinking blockade will definitely not destroy the stock on board the ship.
Figure out your list of navigators. Because many people are eager to try their hand at blockade nav, this list can be longer than what you'll be able to use. Tell people right off the bat that the potentially may not get to blockade nav. Your nav list will need to be ranked according to what you can figure out as the various people's skill levels are. The top one on the list will get the first filled ship, then the second, and so on.
It's also highly helpful to have your navigators (and any ally navs taking in ally ships) talking/coordinating during the blockade in a medium other than YPP. We used MSN as it was what most people already had or could easily get on. Two other popular option are Skype and Teamspeak, both of which allow you to speak, rather then type, to your fellow navigators. They require all navs to have headsets or microphones. Skype allows up to five people to talk together, however, as it sends data peer to peer rather then through a server, quality can begin to suffer as you add new callers. Comupter to computer communication is free. Teamspeak requires a central server which allows some number of players to talk to one another. Teamspeak is a comercial software package, so you may have to pay for this service, usually on a per-connection-slot basis. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it's accessible to all your navs and that everyone, especially you, knows how to use it. (Check the External Links at the end of this page for more suggestions.)
Also if your navs are experienced at blockades, find out from them their preferred level of stocking. This can highly variable. I've gotten preferred round stocking numbers for a war brig anywhere from 50 fine rum with 100 medium shot to 75 fine rum with 300 medium shot. This will be handy for prestocking the ships for initial use and for stocking replacement ships in case of sinking or heavy damage. Some of the freelance navs tend to prefer to join the blockade crew temporarily for ease of being able to deport/give orders if needed and rejoin their original crew.
The nav info went in another tab in my spreadsheet: Nav Name, Nav MSN ID, Nav Ranking. You could also stick in the preferred stocking numbers as well.
At the Start of the Blockade Edit
Make it clear that crew chat should not be used for idle conversation. Use crew chat to direct people to ships and crew officer to direct your officers to take care of the various tasks. Navigators should already be using a chat mechanism outside of the game as outlined above.
Ship Staffing Edit
War brigs should have at least 20-22 people on board and war frigs should have at least 50-55 (Some blockade sides do employ 43-48 manned frigates, which is a viable choice if you have good puzzlers onboard). Each ship should also have a minimum of 2 of your officers. This helps cover cases where an out of game issue pops up or an accidental disconnect happens to an officer. Ships should be filled one at a time and it should be made clear to the people on that ship the names of the officers that are in charge. Again, the officers will take care of deporting, giving orders for gunning, giving orders for navigating, planking if needed, and all of those exciting things.
The minimum number of pirates for a ship to have influence in a blockade (not the same as optimal staffing numbers):
- Sloop = 3
- Cutter = 4
- War Brig = 9
- War Frigate = 15
- Grand Frigate = 30
Non-Sinking Note: If it's non-sinking and you have a plethora of ships, you can take the strategic tactic of reducing optimal staffing requirement numbers in order to field more ships on the board.
The order of priority for filling stations for ship efficiency is sails followed by bilge and finally carp. The station numbers for War Brigs and War frigates are 9/6/4 and 18/18/12 (sails/carp/bilge). The idea is to generate as many tokens as possible.
Hopefully you and the flag ambassador have advertised the jobbing point(s) of contact enough, along with the time that you'd start jobbing, that you'll have plenty of people. I actively start jobbing flagmates into the crew starting 30–45 minutes ahead of the blockade. Outside jobbers were told to give me a tell 10–15 minutes before the blockade. Ask your allies/friend royalty contacts to do flag broadcasts for you about 15–20 minutes ahead of time so the word starts being spread. Do your jobbing from on board the ship you are trying to fill. Use /who to check on the number of people on board. Once it's got the optimal number of people, announce who is in charge of the ship along with the name of the navigator and let 'em do their thing. Hop on the next ship with the next nav & staffing officers. Your officers will also be able to help job in people that happen to give them tells or whatnot. My biggest advice is to type fast and type well. :) Personally I tried to fight pirate obesity by jogging them...
Jobbing no-nos Edit
Do not job greenies as they are usually unaware as to how blockades function and that they are required to puzzle for 45 minutes straight. Posting jobbing notices is socially frowned upon (unless you are paying) because potential applicants are unaware that they will be puzzling non-stop without pay.
During the Blockade Edit
Don't hang out on the island, it can be completely torturous lag city. Plonk your pirate on a supply ship so you can work your coordination and restocking voodoo in relative peace. This also lets you give straggling jobbers a whisk to the island. Know how to use /away and /back if there are a million tells and all the ships area already out (info like "all our ships are already in, but I can job you in to wait for the opportunity to board another").
There are always stragglers, let them know that things have started and that ships are already in, but that you're happy to job 'em if they can be patient enough to wait for an opportunity - either enough people to fill another ship or a ship gets sunk & needs additional staff. If you reach critical mass and can fill another ship, hopefully you've got a few ships out with 3 officers on 'em so you can call back one from two ships to help out the nav that has either waited or you've pulled off a well staffed ship.
Make sure you're on the navigator chat, but just let them do their thing & coordinate with each other. You can use both nav chat and your officers to get updates on how things are going. Specifically look for damage levels where there's danger of sinking. That way you can give your officers & nav the name of the next ship so they can direct their ship's crew there. Toward the end of the round when they're headed back, check again on damage levels (if they're high, give them a stocked replacement ship) and check on supply levels so you can restock back up to the nav's preferred numbers (if damage is low and a replacement ship isn't needed).
Information on ships entering the board is extremely helpful to the navigator, given in the following format: -
Ship name, ship type, island/oceanside, Foe/Friend, Navigator, Manpower
Long Breaks Edit
During the breaks you can recheck your supplies and prepare ships for the next set of rounds. This is also the time for runs to bring in additional supplies if needed. If you've done a lot of sinking, this is also when you can /vwho the list of spied vessels to see what you've sunk & what's left.
After the Blockade Edit
Thank everyone regardless of whether or not you lose.
Forum Software & Hosts Edit
- http://www.createphpbb.com/ - CreatePHPBB (free forum hosting)
- http://invisionfree.com/ - Invision Board (free forum hosting)
- http://www.phpbb.com/ - phpBB (free software)
- http://www.piratehost.org/ - Pirate Host Forums (free forum hosting)
- http://www.invisionboard.com/ - Invision Power Board
- http://www.vbulletin.com/ - vBulletin
- http://www.simplemachines.org/ Simple Machines Forum Software (free software)
Voice Chatting Software Edit
- http://www.skype.com/ - Skype (free)
- http://www.goteamspeak.com/ - Teamspeak
- http://www.ventrilo.com/ - Ventrilo