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Blockade tricks are methods players have discovered for adapting the blockade mechanics to achieve some new advantage. Not showing for a blockade you initiated without notifying the defender and Ocean Masters is not a valid use of blockade mechanics and is considered griefing. There are some blockade tricks which have become common practise, like ocean-side entry, and others which are rarer, like the safezone cordon.
- 1 Safezone Techniques
- 2 Dummy Drop Devices
Ocean-side entry makes use of how the island-side safezone treats the attacker's ships differently than those of the defender. An attacker's ships may deport into the island-side safezone as a defender's can. However, they cannot disengage and port from there like a defender's ships. Instead, ships of an attacking faction that disengage from the island-side safe zone are ejected to the league point outside the blockaded island. Attackers can thus bring in ships from both safezones throughout the blockade, although attacking ships cannot enter the island-side safezone from the main part of blockade board.
Ocean-side entry is normal for an attacker and expected. Defenders can also use a dummy drop to gain ocean-side entry, but this is not always employed.
Every ship arriving onto the blockade board receives some starting tokens (two left turns, two right turns and four "forward" tokens). Side-sniping is using these free tokens to make forays onto the main board with a soloed ship, generally a war frigate to avail of the more powerful large cannonball. The cannons are loaded in the safezone and then the ship exits and reenters in order to get a fresh set of tokens. It moves onto the edge of the board, fires a salvo, then returns to the safezone before running out of tokens.
Side-sniping is risky because the ship is generating no tokens and has to do everything with its initial allotment. As a result, the limited number of paths possible means that the ship's movement is fairly predictable. There is a danger of being trapped by ships on the board or by ships on the edge of the safezone blocking entry. Despite this, it can be effective and does give an edge to defenders because only their ships can re-enter the island-side safezone from the main board.
A cordon is a line preventing free movement into or out of an area. A safezone cordon is a line of ships preventing movement between a safezone and the main board. This line relies on a part of the ship collision rules where ships rammed are completely immovable when two-deep, and different sizes (smaller ships must be first). A barrier made of sloops in the first row and war brigs in the second row can thus stop any ships wishing to move from the safezone onto the main board. Once that is done, there are two options:
- To fill up the rest of the safezone so that any ship deporting is immediately thrown onto the main board.
- To maintain the barrier as is, preventing any ship from passing through to the main board. With an island-side safezone, this favours attackers as they can disengage to the island's league point from the island-side safezone and then enter the blockade board ocean-side. Defenders disengaging from the island-side safezone return to port (but see gaining ocean-side entry for defending ships below).
The safezone cordon could be objected to because it can effectively remove the safezone feature. It has been used in multiple blockades: First by Notorious Fandango at the Jorvik XII blockade with the island-side safezone, where they went on to fill the whole safezone with ships. The second time was done by an independent crew at the Aimuari VII sinking blockade on the Hunter ocean with a large number of grand frigates.
Dummy Drop Devices
A dummy drop is a war chest drop on an island by a flag done solely to assist the defender. It is not a no-show blockade. Since the implementation of fame requirements for attackers, the use of alt flags for dummy drops is extremely difficult. There are three uses for a dummy drop:
Setting the time for a blockade before an attacker does
The first war chest dropped determines the time of a blockade (24 hours after the drop). So a defender can use a dummy drop to ensure that if the island is attacked, it is at a time convenient to the defender. The drawback of this is that a would-be attacker can decide to forgo the blockade while the defender is obliged to defend in case of a surprise war chest drop during the blockade. It is unlikely that Ocean Masters will end such blockades early.
This device was used by the flag Requiem twice. Scuppering Seven Seas initiated a non-sinking blockade at the request of Requiem in an effort to make sure that Dendrite III and Kirin II did not take place simultaneously. With Napi II, Pride of the Pacific dropped a chest on Napi Peak on behalf of Requiem to force a Saturday blockade, as the Sunday was Easter Sunday. Requiem had Ocean Master approval for both these dummy drops. RiddleMakers also made use of the device to avoid being inconvenienced by Dragon Lords' planned Sunday drop at Pranayama I; their allied flag Dragon Masters dummy-dropped for Saturday noon amid a firestorm of protest from allies as well as opponents. It is unclear whether the action had Ocean Master approval, but no disciplinary measures were taken.
Making a blockade sinking without going to war with an attacker
The defending flag reciprocates the war declaration against the assisting flag while not reciprocating the true attacker's declaration. This makes the blockade sinking while avoiding war with an enemy. It's worth noting that attackers do not have any control over whether the blockade will be sinking. Even if two contenders are at war with each other, the blockade will not be sinking unless one of them is at war with the defender. The extra option is the defender's alone.
This device is known as the Jyn exploit after Jyn, the Looterati Minister of War. It was first used at Eta II by Silver Dawn to repel Silver Dusk. Because Silver Dawn used the flag Merciless Exploit of War (MEOW) the Jyn Exploit is frequently called the MEOW Exploit. The tactic was also used by Excalibur, an alt flag of Avalon in the Spring III blockade. This device has been used after the introduction of Fame on Viridian, where RiddleMakers arranged a state of war and a dummy drop with Relinquo Angelus for Labyrinth Moors II and did not reciprocate the Ellipse declaration. RiddleMakers had Ocean Master approval for this.
Making a blockade sinking without being at war with the defender
A test on Ice confirmed that blockades will be sinking if and only if any attacker is at war with the defender. So, if an attacker has a friendly flag who is at war with the defender or if a flag at war with the defender simply wants the blockade to be sinking, a sinking blockade can be forced with a war chest drop. This trick skirts the no-show proscription and Three Rings' view on it is not clear.
It was used at Polaris Point II, where Pay for Play attacked Brotherhood w-o Banners. Brotherhood w-o Banners was already at war with Vanguard from a blockade the previous week, so when Vanguard dropped the blockade became sinking. Vanguard did not contest the blockade.
Gaining ocean-side entry for defending ships
A defender swapping deeds with a dummy-drop flag can take advantage of the attacker's ability to disengage from the island-side safe zone to the blockaded island's league point. A ship is loaded as normal, the deed is put into the dummy drop flag, then the ship is deported into the island-side safe zone and disengaged. As it was part of an attacking faction, it is sent to the league point outside the island. The deed is returned to the defending flag and the ship can enter the blockade board ocean-side as part of the defender's faction.
It is not known if this trick is allowed by the Ocean Masters.