Naval Action is a hardcore, realistic, and beautifully detailed naval combat sandbox immersing players into the experience of the most beautiful period of naval history – when sailing ships ruled the seas.
A guide to help new players figure out the game, up-to-date as of February 2019.
Naval Action is a fascinating game – unfortunately, it’s also a very obtuse, opaque, and sometimes downright byzantine game with a grueling learning curve. Looking around, most of the information about this game is either hopelessly out of date, or requires Bletchley Park to decipher. This makes an otherwise excellent game pretty brutal on new players; ergo, this guide, written in the hopes of helping new players figure out WTactualF is going on. Everything in here is stuff I’ve either figured out myself using mystical clairvoyance, or things I’ve divined from peering into ancient star charts written years ago by overzealous 18th century naval enthusiasts posting cryptic gobbledeguk (Steam censors that when spelled properly; hilarious) on wikis.
How i mine for fish?
That’s a thing you can actually do in this game, but we’ll cover that later. First, it should be noted that this guide assumes you are playing on the PvE (Peace) server. Many of the basics covered here are applicable to PvP to various extents, but the PvP ruleset introduces extra complexities, difficulties, and about seven different strains of virulent cancer which are beyond the scope of this guide. If you’re struggling with the game, do yourself a favor and learn the ropes in PvE first.
So, once you have a character made on the PvE server, let’s jump into what the hell to do. Your choice of nation doesn’t matter a ton in PvE, so pick something you like. Britain and Pirates have convenient central starting locations with easy access to the economic game, if that interests you. Pirates and USA are also pretty close to the low-level Bahamas region, which can be a useful place for newer players to sail around in.
Once you’re situated, you should absolutely do the first four prompted tutorials. Even if you’ve played similar games before, such as Pirates of the Burning Sea, there are new concepts taught in the tutorials which are important to be familiar with. Pay particular attention to the advanced sailing tutorial which teaches you how to maneuver without your rudder – it may not seem necessary at first, but you’ll need to understand the basic concepts in order to start playing with bigger ships once you’re ready to move up from your first few newbie ships.
After the first four tutorials are four exams followed by a final exam. THESE CAN BE VERY HARD. Attempting them is free, however, and you do not need to do them right away if they’re a little overwhelming. You can and probably should skip them for now until you’ve played around with the basics for a few hours. Just hit SKIP, and you can come back and do them later. When you do come back to them, completing the regular exams nets you an important promotion and a free corvette, and completing the final exam gives you another big promotion and a respectable frigate.
Tutorials are boring, skip
That’s the spirit! (no, but seriously, at least do the first four)
Once you’re done with the tutorials for the time being, you’ll be in your nation’s capital with a Basic Cutter. Yeah, it’s pretty basic. It’s even got basic guns. Such is life. It will serve its purpose, however, and better yet, it’s free! You can get sunk again and again and again if that’s your style, because you can always buy a new Basic Cutter for $0 at your home port’s Ship Auction screen.
Speaking of $0, that’s what you start with. Nothing. Except afore-mentioned basic boat. So how do you get that sweet cash and start moving up in the world? The easiest way I’ve found is to take a Quest. Open the Quest window, and look for a Kill mission at Rank 7. That’s you, you and your basic ♥♥♥♥♥ boat are Rank 7 garbage. But garbage with potential, and I’m going to help you realize that potential.
Take the Rank 7 Kill mission – it should give you a target for a single enemy Rank 7 ship, and place a swords marker on your map somewhere sorta-kinda near your home port. I hope you know your Caribbean geography.
One more thing before you leave: Check out the Perks window. Most of them are locked, but you should have 1 point to spend. These are semi-permanent upgrades for you, so pick something juicy that will help you advance. I recommend Double Charge to give you an edge in combat, but Fleet Control is also very useful once you’re ready to start capturing new ships to take for yourself.
Now you’re ready set sail and rake in dat $$$. Hit Leave Port! (you may need to hit skip on your tutorials if you haven’t already done that, but surely you have, haven’t you?)
SET A COURSE FOR ADVENTURE
srsly tho you need to set a course.
The Caribbean is ridiculously vast and quite easy to get lost in. To help you find your way, open up the map and hit SHOW PROTRACTOR near the top. Now you can double-click anywhere on the map to plop down a thing. What good does that do you? Well, find your own position – presumably, right outside your home port. Plop your thing down right there. Now, you can hold right click to plot out a course. Place your right-click target on the crossed swords of your Kill mission, and you should now have a straight line from your current position to where you want to be. Close your map, and voila! (if you’re French, otherwise, just marvel at the miracle of technology I have unveiled for you) – you now have a red thingamajigger on your compass, showing you the heading to your destination.
Beware – it’s up to you to chart your position and destination correctly. The red marker won’t magically guide you to where you want to go, it’s purely a product of your own abilities. If you screw up your position on the map, or sail off in another direction, your charted course will be quite wrong.
Now, sail toward your destination. It will appear as a swords icon floating above the sea on the horizon once you’re close enough. It can take a few minutes to get close enough to even see it, so keep your eyes peeled. The wind may be difficult, but thankfully the open sea and your cutter are both pretty forgiving in unfavorable winds. Once you see it, click on it. When you get close enough, a button will light that will let you join the mission. DO SO.
Your First Mission
RUN OUT THE GUNS! DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST, AND SUCH!
The basic battle mechanics are pretty well covered by the tutorials (you did those, right?) so I’m not going to go into them here. After a start timer, you’ll be thrown into mortal combat with some other pathetic 7th-rate trash-boat. Good luck, skipper.
The easiest way to get through these basic kill missions is to just sink the other boat with round (ball) shot. If you took the Double Charge perk, you have a limited supply of upgraded shot that tends to be a little more vicious, so use that. Ammo is pre-set and replenishes every fight, so don’t worry about conserving ammo. Basic round shot and grape shot are totally infinite and you never run out, so feel free to just shoot like a madman.
If you’re feeling ambitious or just confident in your boat-shooting abilities, you can board and capture your opponent’s boat, which may or may not be an upgrade from your cutter. Pickles are excellent boats to upgrade to if you find one in a mission, but more on boat selection later.
Either sink or capture your target. If you sink it, try to pull up close to the wreck and pan around until a prompt to hit X comes up, so you can grab any loot it had. Yeah, the interface sucks. Once you have your loot and/or STOLEN SHIP YOU FILTHY PIRATE, go ahead and exit the battle. Chart a course back to port – your old course should still be on the map, so it’s easy to click your thing into place on your old destination, and then set your new destination back to port.
A Note on Boarding
Boarding kind of sucks. A lot.
It will make more sense the more you do it, but for now, the basics are thus:
- Fire Deck Guns kills everything. Just keep it on cooldown. If your opponent is doing it, then either Brace or fire back.
- Brace is a good default that protects you against ranged attacks and builds up your Preparation, which you need.
- Defend protects you against melee, AKA Attack.
- Once you have 60+ Preparation, do another round of Brace. At the very last millisecond, switch to Attack. If it’s greyed out, you don’t have enough Prep.
This is a simple routine and it won’t win you every fight, but it will beat the AI more often than not as long it doesn’t have a huge initial advantage over you.
Moving Up In the World
For your efforts, you will have received some reals and XP. Once you get back to port, don’t forget to open the Quest window, check your journal, and claim some additional doubloons. You’ve now got pocket change and a basic routine you can do if you need quick cash or XP to progress. So what else can you do?
MINE. FOR. FISH.
When you’re out sailing away from the immediate vicinity of your capital, you can FISH. Toggle fishing mode on at the bottom of the screen while you’re sailing, and you’ll automatically start collecting fish and salt as you sail. Fish can be right-clicked and converted into Provisions, which are used by ship builders to build boats. You can sell these Provisions and salt at a port to bring in a little extra money.
There are even a few rare fish, such as bull sharks, which often sell for decent prices at port as well, so you may not want to convert everything to Provisions until you learn the prices of each fish.
You can also get your foot in the door in the industrial and economic game. The details of how it all works are beyond the scope of this guide, but basically, capitalism. Most ports have a few resources that can be produced there – check the drop-down menu in the top-left while you’re in port to see which ones. Most of these resources are needed for crafting one way or another, so you might want to try investing in one or two to see if you can work the market.
Anywhere you have an Outpost (including your home port), you can build industrial buildings. For a few reals, you can establish new Outposts in other ports, providing you with a warehouse and dock space there, as well as allowing you to build resource-gathering facilities. Find a resource you like, build a building, and start gathering resources.
It’s up to you to find the market for your resource, but unless there’s a good market for it in the same port (which is possible), you’re probably going to want to ship it around. Your capital port will probably have a thriving economy, as do major ship-building ports like La Navasse. Wherever you decide to ship your goods, you’ll need a way to haul it all. Your cutter can carry a little, but for more serious shipping you’ll need a trader ship.
The Trader Lynx and Trader Cutter are similar to your Basic Cutter, but have a lot more hold space for goods. You can often find players selling them for reasonable prices, so just check local Ship Auctions until you see a price that isn’t insane. These cargo ships are good for economic duty, but they aren’t really suited for combat. Higher level trade ships can be surprisingly well armed, however, so don’t dismiss them completely as you move up the ranks.
I’M ON A BOAT
At some point, you’re gonna want a new boat. Either capture one that looks interesting, or buy a reasonably-priced boat from the Ship Auction. Pickle is a good initial upgrade. It’s still Rank 7, but to progress to higher ranked ships you generally need to get enough XP to get promoted. Your XP-rank determines the maximum number of crew you can have, and bigger ships (Rank 6, Rank 5, etc) require more crew.
Once you move out of your Basic Cutter, however, things get a little more complicated. You need to make sure you recruit new crew to replace your losses after a fight, and you need to keep your ship stocked with a small supply of Rum, Hull Repairs, and Rig Repairs so that you can use Surgeon and repairs while you’re in combat. If you run out of these items, you won’t be able to repair your ship or replenish your crew during a fight.
When you’ve hit Second Lieutenant (1000+ XP), you’ll have enough crew to move up out of Little League and into something more serious. Rank 6 is replete with upgrades, and you can start experimenting with your playstyle and preferences. Most of the ships available at Rank 6 have interesting qualities and advantages, so play around and experiment with any that look interesting to you. You will also probably want to go back and give the Exams another look at this point, as you should be able to pass a few of them after a few attempts now. If you can beat the Endurance Exam, remember that you get a free Rattlesnake Rank 6 corvette and the promotion necessary to use it!
There’s a lot more to this game, and this brief guide only scratches the surface. The finer points of sailing, combat, boarding tactics, economics, crafting, and PvP are all beyond the scope of this guide. Hopefully, you should have a better idea of what the hell you’re doing now, at least, and have the tools to start progressing in the game so you can delve into it more deeply.
So grab T-Pain and have at it, skipper!