Admiraling a blockade
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Admiraling a blockade is the process of directing a flag though all the phases of blockade to victory. To do that you must ensure that you have three main things for success: manpower, ships, and supplies. If you lack any of these three items, then victory can become almost impossible.
Phases of a Blockade
A blockade has a total of four different phases which can overlap each other at different times: target selection, supply gathering and ship movement, gathering of manpower, and the actual blockade itself.
Target selection can be either a politically or militarily chosen target based on a number of factors including the flag size, recent actions of the flag, and current public opinion of the flag. Target selection almost always occurs before any other phase in a blockade.
Supply Gathering and Ship Movement
Supply gathering and ship movement does not normally occur until a target has been chosen for a blockade. Once the target is chosen, it is sometimes hard to achieve strategic surprise for the reason that it is rather easy to see a gathering of forces at a place that you protect.
Supply gathering can actually begin before a target is chosen and can be driven by market factors or special discounts from suppliers. You must ensure that when the blockade does happen you have enough supplies to fully stock each and every ship. Standard stockings for war brigs are 300 medium cannon balls and 40 rum, a war frigate is 300 large cannon balls and 80 rum, a cutter is 100 small cannon balls and 20 rum.
The current standard for ship movement is to move all the ships at once to a target in a short period of time. This is done with the use of many greenie accounts to sit on the ship to make sure it sails, and a single officer to hit the button to continue the ship past a league point. Another option is to slowly move ships to an island over an extended period of time (e.g., a number of weeks) and try to achieve surprise on the day the war chest is dropped. You can also use Swabbie Ship Transport but it can get costly if you are moving a large amount of ships to a far place.
Gathering of Manpower
The reason that a target was chosen can dictate on how manpower is acquired. If the current holders have an unfavorable public opinion, one can find it is easy to acquire allies for the attack. Another way is to approach people who had recently left the target group and gain support through them and through some of the former allies of the previous group with whom they still remain in contact. A third option is to hire manpower for your side. This option can be rather expensive, but it will ensure that you have at least a decent starting number of participants to staff you ships. Also, this does not require you to barter with anyone else and can ensure that you do not get entangled in an unfavorable agreement. A fourth and final option is to give people a reason to bring jobbers to your attack; this may include allowing the jobber to navigate your ship if they supply a certain amount of bodies for your attack.
The blockade itself can be broken down into a number of steps that occur over a time line in a certain order.
T-minus 24 Hours
The war is declared on the defenders. The war chest is dropped. At this point all of your ships should be at the island, for if the defender reciprocated your war declaration, you would not be able to port your ships or be able to float them. Another trick that is used is making a flag Blockade Crew, so the crew can leave a flag and dock at the chosen island. Also 75%, if not 100% of your supplies should be at the island and ready to be distributed to your ships.
T-minus 3 Hours
By this time, you should have had all supplies collected at the island. Each ship should have at least its standard load out with an extra ship with supplies just in case they are needed. If you're using voice software, it should have been tested by this time so as to work out any bugs.
T-minus 1 Hour
Your navigators should be finalized. You should begin pairing XOs with navigators and deciding who will begin with what ships. Navigators and XOs should have all the info needed for voice communication if needed. Voice communication could be either Skype, Teamspeak, Ventrilo or even MSN.
T-minus 30 Minutes
Jobbing of people should begin. Ships should be loaded ONE at a time. One way to ensure this is to tell navigators to not board the boat assigned to them until it is ready to be loaded. Ships should be staffed to approximately the following levels: war frigate: 48-52 people; war brig: 20-22 people; cutter: 6 - 10 people. War frigates should always be the first ships filled for they require the largest amount of people. If not enough people are gathered to fill a War frigate then those people can always be shuffled to a War Brig if needed. Trying to shuffle two undermanned war brigs can create problems since the navigators will be reluctant to give over command of their ship.
T-minus 10 Minutes
You should begin to have a good idea of the jobbing numbers of the blockade at this time. By looking at both the number of jobbers on yours and your opposition’s side, you should be able to make a gauge of how many ships each side will field. At this point, you should start looking at the staffing number of your ships and start considering filling war brigs instead of war frigates.
T-minus 5 Minutes
At this point, it behoves you to notify all of the people jobbing for you the blockade is about to begin. Many jobbers do not wait on ships for a significant amount of time after being jobbed. This starts to round out your ship numbers and begins to get everyone into position. XOs should have began picking out gunners.
T-minus 2 Minutes
Any war frigates that have less then 35 people should be broken down into a war brig at this point. Have all remaining jobbers go onto to smaller class ships. Notify over crew chat again that two minutes remain and have people board the ships. XOs should have all gunners picked out.
T-minus 1 Minute
Navigators should all be listening on over either crew or voice chat for commands to deport and which side of the board to enter. Jobbers should be once again reminded that one minute remains and that they should all be on ships. XOs should be encouraging them all to take stations.
T-minus 30 seconds
The admiral should be on a boat that can deport the second that the blockade begins to look at the board. Usually, a sloop with no supplies will work.