Fandango Blockade Method
|The topic of this article is subject to personal opinion, and does not represent any one absolute truth.|
|If you disagree, discuss your concerns on the the talk page before editing.|
The Fandango Blockade Method is a comprehensive guide to strategy and organization, intended to outline the process of directing a flag though all the phases of blockade to victory. It covers manpower, ships, supplies, tactics, and a division of administrative responsibilities intended to promote a clear and efficient chain of command. It is intended as a supplement to Bifnot's Blockade strategy guide, the most comprehensive blockade manual to date, and will often refer to terminology coined in that guide.
Note that there are many ways to run a blockade. This is just how Fandango did it. Note also that no system is perfect, and all blockades are unique, so the ability to think on your feet, and to adapt a system to a particular situation is very important. Strive to follow a procedure that everyone knows and agrees to, but don't be scared to adapt.
The original skeleton for this document was Jacktheblack's efforts to quantify the duties of the Admiral on the main YPPedia, here: Admiraling a blockade ...hence the similar format.
- 1 The Five Aspects of Blockade Success
- 2 The Fandango Method – a Phased Approach to Blockade Organization
- 2.1 Target Selection
- 2.2 Supply Gathering and Ship Movement
- 2.3 Gathering of Manpower
- 2.4 Division of Labor and Responsibility
- 2.5 Communication in the Fandango Method
- 2.6 The Blockade Timeline
- 2.6.1 T-minus 24 Hours
- 2.6.2 T-minus 3 Hours
- 2.6.3 T-minus 1 Hour
- 2.6.4 T-minus 30 Minutes
- 2.6.5 T-minus 10 Minutes
- 2.6.6 T-minus 5 Minutes
- 2.6.7 T-minus 2 Minutes
- 2.6.8 T-minus 1 Minute
- 2.6.9 T-minus 30 seconds
- 2.6.10 T-Minus Zero, Go Time
- 2.6.11 Directing Ships for Mutual Support and Flag Management
- 2.6.12 Closing of Round 1
- 2.6.13 Break between Round 1 and Round 2
- 2.6.14 Break between Round 3 and Round 4
- 2.6.15 Further Rounds
- 2.6.16 Post-Blockade
- 2.7 Contributors to this page
The Five Aspects of Blockade Success
Blockade success depends on jobbers, supplies, organization, tactics, and individual nav talent. Any one of those five aspects can win a blockade.
The most straight-forward way to win a blockade is to out-job your opponent. Even with wretched organization, supplies, organization, tactics, and nav talent, a 2:1 or higher jobber ratio will seal a victory. With all other aspects equal, a 20% jobber advantage is often significant enough to push an opponent into pulling out in the first several rounds. The best way to establish and maintain a jobber advantage continues to be to make deals with multiple large flags for jobber support. The jobber ratio can also be influenced by a significant differential in jobber pay, by cross-ocean deals, and by timely forum campaigns. Never underestimate how important hate is to jobber numbers.
Effective Jobbing Ratio (EJR)
Because jobber ratio is so significant, and is fairly easily measured, it serves as a good indicator to quantify the blockade. It needs to be adjusted to account for jobbers that aren’t doing the flag any good, though, either because they’re unutilized or they’re off-cluster. Adjust the jobber ratio for these, and you have an “effective jobbing ratio” that acts as the true benchmark of blockade effectiveness, and each other aspect of the blockade impacts this effective ratio.
What you need for supplies varies greatly depending on how the blockade pans out. If you out job your opponents 4:1, you may only need 10 boats in your entire fleet, and rum and shot for three rounds of flag sitting. If jobber numbers are even, and both sides are heavily vested in the outcome of the blockade, you need a lot more – so much so that many flags will bring less and quit early if things get that hot.
For a large, evenly contested blockade, expect that each class of boat you field will get sunk between 1 and 1.5 times per round. So for 200 jobbers per side, if you were to field 3 frigates and 2 brigs per round, for five rounds, that’s 15 to 23 frigates, and 10 to 15 brigs lost in the blockade. If you expect more jobbers for both sides, you need more boats. If you’re beaten on any other phase of the blockade, you need more boats. If it goes sinking, and you have to worry about a defense the following week, you need more boats. If you beat your opponent heavily on several other aspects, you might not need near that.
Standard stock is 80 fine rum and 350 large cannonballs for a war frigate, 40 rum and 350 medium cannonballs for a war brig. A good navver on a well puzzled boat can shoot 450 or more shot during a round if they stay up the entire time, so it may be worth the effort to overstock a few key boats if they’re going fresh into the board at the beginning of a round.
Supplies rarely decide blockades between talented blockade flags, since supply is the easiest aspect to get right. If you get it wrong, though, it’s as good as gift wrapping a victory for your opponent. Essentially, supplies have no impact on effective jobber ratio until you run out, at which time your effective jobber ratio goes to zero and you lose.
"Organization" in the context of this document means, very simply, getting people on boats and getting boats on the board, as fast as possible. Organization can be quantified in terms of jobber utilization, meaning the ratio of jobbers on the board, influencing buoys, to total jobbers in your pool. A finely tuned war flag with intelligent jobbers, good navigators, and administrative staff that knows what they’re doing, can have jobber utilization numbers up above 90%, but very often you'll see 70% utilization or lower on newer servers, with inexperienced staff. That's a 20% (90% to 70%) jobber swing right there – enough to lose a blockade. It bares mention that getting repeatedly sunk will compound organizational problems, while staying alive on the board minimizes them.
There are many organization methods, and all experienced flags have processes and procedures they prefer over others. The Fandango Method is one tried and true method for the division of labor and communication to ensure a blockade is well organized, and utilization stays high. It isn’t the only way to run a blockade, but most modern flags use some variation of it, because it’s proven to work. It bares mention that not all the techniques here were developed by Fandango, more that they're a synthesis of effective techniques used throughout the game, and incorporated into one methodology.
Rounds are won by influencing buoys, not by sinks, although in cases of tight supply, sinks can win individual blockades or protracted wars of attrition. For the purposes of this treatment, assume the goal is to win blockade rounds.
Bifnot’s guide to Blockade Tactics is fairly comprehensive, and most of the information in it is still applicable, and doesn’t need restating. The purpose of this document section is to expand upon some of his concepts in terms of the aforementioned “jobber ratio” benchmark, and to illustrate how thinking in terms of jobber ratio and jobber utilization can lead to successful strategies on the board.
In order to win a blockade round, you want more of your jobbers influencing more buoys than your opponent has. If an opponent has jobbers off cluster, be they in port because they got sunk, or they’re en-route to the cluster, or they’re dead in the water off cluster, those are unutilized jobbers, bringing his effective jobbing ratio down. You want to craft your overall tactical effort to make sure you have more jobbers on cluster, and better buoy coverage than your opponent.
So here are some examples of the effective jobber ratio concept. If you can influence a smaller cluster reliably with a war brig, that he’s using a war frigate to influence, then that’s an effective 25 jobber swing in your favor. If you have a brig inclining on a 2 pointer on the board, and he's got a frigate inclining on a 2 pointer somewhere else, that's an effective 25 jobber swing in your favor. If you can use a grand frigate parked in-between rocks with only carpers and gunners to influence a larger cluster that your opponent has devoted one or two war frigates to, that’s a 70 jobber swing in your favor. If your opponent’s frigate gets shot up and leaves a cluster to repair his boat, that’s a 50 jobber swing in your favor. If you sink an on-cluster frigate, that’s a 50 jobber swing until those jobbers can get back onto the board and influencing buoys.
The goal of a navigator is to influence buoys. Navvers need to get on the board as fast as possible, follow orders, get to their cluster assignment, and not yield that cluster unless forced. If a navver must leave influence for a reason, he should plan ahead to ensure he has the tokens available to return to his cluster assignment, or coordinate so that another boat will cover the cluster.
The recommendation for newer blockade navigators is fairly simple - move in such a way that you are the least likely to take damage while maintain influence, conserving tokens as much as possible, and shoot whenever it’s remotely possible you might hit an opponent. If you’re on cluster and he’s off, he’s got an obligation to come to you, not the other way around. Use your position to your advantage.
If a navver wanders off cluster, or goes DITW off cluster, his jobbers are no longer effective, and reduce his flag's EJR. If a navver gets sunk, his jobbers are temporarily ineffective as they try to board a replacement vessel and return to influence, so his flag's EJR is temporarily reduced. If a flag's navigators are superior to their opponents, so much so that the opponent is more regularly off cluster and/or replacing boats, then their navigation superiority is responsible for a swing in EJR, which may be enough to swing a round.
The underlying lesson is this: Getting sunk on-cluster is only temporarily bad. Getting stuck off cluster is worse, because those jobbers are tied up unproductive. If you are in a bad situation and going to go down soon, stay on cluster until you sink, don't flee to repair. If you notice someone else has fled to repair, don't sink him. Maybe shoot him a bit while he's stuck away from the cluster, to keep him repairing longer, but sinking him actually helps those jobbers become effective, which is bad for you. The name of the game is EJR.
Putting it Together –Examples of the Effective Jobber Ratio (EJR) Method
These are real world examples. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and/or guilty.
Flag A attacks Flag B. Flag A fields 315 jobbers on primarily flag contacts, Flag B fields 280 jobbers primarily on pay differential. In the high-sink even melee environment that ensues, Flag B turns around their sunk boats in 60 to 120 seconds, whereas Flag A’s turnaround is often three or more minutes. Assuming 1 sink every 3 minutes for each flag, Flag B’s effective jobber total averages at around 265, while Flag A’s is at 230. Further, Flag B’s navvers average at least one boat (frig or brig) away from cluster, bringing their adjusted utilization down to 195 or so. A 26% EJR advantage to the defender, and the attacker is swept.
Flag A attacks Flag B. Flag B fields 150 jobbers with an experienced back-end administrative staff composed from two war flags. Flag A fields 300 jobbers, a 20/20 war fleet, and fairly experienced navigators with some rookies in administration. An administrative booch leads Flag A to start the blockade with only enough large cannonballs to last two rounds, and an informant alerts Flag B to this. Flag B’s on-shore administrative staff do some extensive /whoing in the arch, identify the boat Flag A is attempting to use to transport more large shot to the island, reciprocate the war, and spend the remainder of the blockade seeking out any blockade running sloops to ensure no large shot make it islandside. Flag A’s EJR shrinks to zero on Supply.
Flag A attacks Flag B. Flag A jobs to about 80, half of which are on one war frigate, Flag B jobs to about 120, fielding two frigates. The rest of both forces are on brigs. All three frigates focus their efforts on a single large oceanside cluster, and the remaining brigs fight over the rest of the board. During the course of the blockade, the brig action is essentially a wash, but Flag A's frigate manages not only to cancel the influence of both of Flag B's frigates, but to sink them both around the same time frame, establishing an incline for a crucial stretch while they get back on the board. For the period that all three frigates were in melee, Flag A used 40 jobbers to counteract 80, an effective 40 jobber swing. For the period where both frigates were sunk and boarding new boats, all 80 were off cluster, yielding a swing of 80, giving Flag A the advantage. So while the pure jobber ratio for the round was in Flag B's favor, the effective ratio was either even or in Flag A's favor, due to better puzzling and navving aboard their premier frigate.
Flag A attacks Flag B. Flag A identifies a tall 3 sided rocktrap from which a Grand Frigate could influence the majority of a large cluster. Flag A staffs a grand frigate, maneuvers it into the rock trap, then has all the jobbers other than carpers and gunners abandon and field another boat. In order to counter the influence ring of the stationary GF, Flag B must station war frigates on 3 sides of the rock formation, and can't sink the Grand because they can only trade broadsides, and the Grand has more carpenters. The effective jobber swing is almost 100 jobbers, when comparing the manpower devoted to the 3 war frigates to the manpower devoted to the single understaffed grand frigate.
Flags A and B are engaged in a small, closely jobbed contest at under 100 jobbers each. Flag A deploys cutters and dhows to occupy a two and three point flag, respectively, far enough apart to where it would be difficult for a boat to influence them both. They apply approximately 16 jobbers to the operation, and the remainder of their jobbers towards brigs elsewhere in the central melee. Flag B deploys a single undermanned baghlah to the same area, with about 12 jobbers aboard. Even though the single baghlah isn't capable of influencing both flags, it bounces between the two, ensuring that camping them is too dangerous for the smaller class craft, eventually sinking both. Thus, with 12 jobbers and one boat, Flag B neutralized a 5 point incline for Flag A, and turned it into a 3 point incline for Flag B - an 8 point per sequence shift, with less jobbers dedicated to the operation, so more could be applied toward the brig melee.
The Fandango Method – a Phased Approach to Blockade Organization
A blockade has a total of 4 different phases which sometimes overlap: target selection, supply gathering and ship movement, gathering of manpower, and the actual blockade itself.
Target selection can be either politically or militarily driven, based on a number of factors including the flag size, recent actions of the flag, and current public option of the flag. Target Selection almost always occurs before any other phases in a blockade.
Target Selection for peaceful flags usually takes place months or years in advance, unless it's part of a larger multi-island operation of their allies, or a reciprocal drop against an attacker. Target selection for war flags can happen in moments, based on other chests being dropped, on last second deals, even during the ramp up to other blockades.
War flag operations are much smoother the fewer royals a flag has, for voting reasons. Ideally, a war flag will have one royal to declare war and drop blockade chests, that plays a minimum of several hours per day. At a minimum, war flags should have a small number of royals who definitely trust each other well enough to share passwords, in case one of them can't be online for a particular reason. During the Fandango heyday, we maintained one royal, and if that royal could not be available for any given weekend, we would pass the royalty spot to another player for the duration of the primary monarch's absence. This may mean building an unconventional political structure into the flag.
Usually, target selection is made by the royal or royals, and the royal or royals select an Admiral. The Admiral selects the remainder of the blockade team. The team should be selected as quickly as possible, after the target and time have been settled.
Supply Gathering and Ship Movement
Supply gathering and ship movement does not normally occur until a target has been chosen for a blockade. One 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 being 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 full stock each and every ship. Standard stockings for War Brigs are 350 Medium cannon balls and 40 rum, a War Frigate is 350 large cannon balls and 80 rum, a cutter is 100 cannon balls and 20 rum.
A top shelf blockade navigator who stays on the board for an entire round can use 400, or even 500 cannonballs in a round, with good gunners. While it can be a drain to stock all vessels to this level before the blockade starts, it can be smart to stock a few key navigators with some extra shot at the beginning of a round, if they will be entering the board fresh.
Basic floating techniques are the same everywhere. Chart a boat, hit 'set sail' at every league point until it reaches its destination. Remember that if a boat is abandoned, or the server is reset, boats go back to their most recent ported location, so it is important to port at every island, so you don't lose work.
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 would be to slowly move ships to a port over an extended period of time, a number of weeks, and try to achieve surprise on the day the war chest is dropped.
If all the blockade deeds are kept on a single account, they can be easily swapped into an alt crew for floating. This may hide the attacking flag, but won't hide the attack itself. The best method to generate surprize in a blockade is to move the fleet after the warchest is dropped, but before the blockade starts, in a massive float effort, under an unaligned crew so the target cannot embargo the fleet. For this method to work, it's usually best to float the fleet most of the way to the target island before the warchest, and only go the last few leagues the night before.
Gathering of Manpower
How the target was chosen can dictate how manpower is acquired. If the current holders have an unfavorable public option, pump their enemies for support. If high profile players or crews have recently left the target, pump them for support. Another option is to hire mercenary manpower directly, or give high profile players a reason to bring their crews/flags to support you, like giving out blockade nav spots.
Generally you want to keep the 'deals' you make with other flags to a minimum, because the more political entanglements you have, the more restrictions you lay on yourself for future blockade activity. But cutting deals remains an essential element to gaining support, and blockades are won on jobber numbers more than anything else in YPP.
Lining up support from other flags is still the core way to gather manpower in YPP. It's best to speak directly with as many monarchs as possible the week before the blockade, arrange support if possible, and follow up with anyone you've arranged support with on the night before, to ensure they haven't been lured to the other side of the blockade. Keep the names of some contacts within each supporting flag handy for the blockade, and remind them in /tells to flag broadcast for you between each round as the blockade progresses.
"Innspam" may or may not be beneficial depending on the server. On spread-out servers with older player-bases who frown on inn advertising (Midnight) innspam doesn't work. It can even hurt your numbers because carousing monarchs might knock off a flag broadcast telling people to job for your opponent, simply because you're "spamming." On doubloon servers, frequent innspam is essential, especially if you're paying more than your opponent. The technique is pretty simple, load up an alt with whisk potions, and cycle through all the most popular inns copy/pasting an advertising message with all the necessary information. The message should be funny, should contain the pay rate, your flag's name, one or more jobbing contact's names, and should be short enough so it fits easily within the smaller chatbox of players in carousing puzzles. On doubloon servers especially, it's beneficial to do this on multiple servers, since many players only maintain political preferences on their home server and will job for anyone on other servers if they pay is right, and those are the kinds of players you want to advertise to. It's important not to over-do it, once every 20 minutes should be plenty. For large cross-ocean blockade efforts, you may want to have a dedicated innspammer, or delegate those duties to your 'rover.' (see below)
In summary, talk with flags a week before, talk with disgruntled ex-members of the target, arrange support early, confirm that support late, pump that support for broadcasts / etc during the blockade, innspam, and overpay. Doing some combination of the that better than your opponent will almost invariably lead to a jobber-win, and while Fandango never found jobber wins remotely fun, they're definitely a very important part of the blockade game, and shouldn't be overlooked by any blockade literature that claims to be comprehensive.
Division of Labor and Responsibility
The division of labor goes as follows: Royal, Admiral, Vice-Admiral, Jobbing Contact, Rovers, Navvers, XOs. All blockade staff should rehome to the pertinent island before the blockade begins, if possible. The Admiral and Vice Admiral should be of at least Senior Officer rank in the blockade crew, and all other official positions should be of at least Fleet Officer rank, so they can accept stock transfers.
Royal (for pay)
One Royal must be online to handle blockade payment, if payment is to be done through the current automated pay interface. Since the Royal's name is likely to appear on the jobbing noticeboard, the Royal should expect multiple tells asking to be jobbed, whether they're the actual jobbing contact or not, so often times it pays to also make the royal a JC. Beyond pay, and ultimate veto power on decisions to quit early, being a Royal has no bearing on the command and control decision during the blockade. Royals should not actively interfere with the Admiral during the blockade, nor should they use their status as royals to interfere with any element of the chain of command. That's not to say that a royal can't also fill another position, such as Rover, Vice, or even Admiral.
Comprehensive instructions on how to handle jobber pay are found on the official Puzzle Pirates wiki, although players with some experience with the system indicate that the interface seems to overestimate how much pay to put in escrow. Bring more than you plan on spending.
All online Royals should maintain an "/afk" message indicating what they're paying, and who the jobbing contact is.
The Admiral is chosen by the royal as soon as the blockade is known. The Admiral chooses all other positions, including VA, JC, navs, etc. The Admiral makes all on-board tactical decisions, which navs to put where, which kinds of boats to load, where each boat should focus on the board, islandside or oceanside entry, and whether or not to pull out. The Admiral operates from a boat in the safe zone.
The Admiral's job is not to individually direct the movement of ships on the board. The Admiral is the person through whom all information in a blockade flows. The primary function of the Admiral is communication between all the disparate parts of the blockade team. The other functions include on-board tactics, jobber acquisition and counter-intelligence.
The best Admirals are the ones that talk the least. Attempting to individually control and direct ships will lead to mass confusion and early sinks. The best way to move ships is to assign them flag clusters. Then, trust the navers to handle holding the flags and coordinating with any friendlies in the area. Admirals should remind navvers to communicate with each other, remind them to maintain space, etceteras, but should stay out of the business of spoon-feeding particular moves as much as practicable.
The Vice Admiral (sometimes known as "land admiral") is an on-shore position, operating primarily from the dockside interface in port, moving to the stock boat if a transfer is necessary. Some admirals dual-client, with their main on the stock boat, and a green alt dockside. The VA keeps the fleet spreadsheet, keeps track of which nav teams are on which boats, which boats have been sunk, and which boats are next to load. The VA takes instructions on which class of boat to load from the Admiral, and relays which boat is next to the Jobbing Contact. The VA also informs the navver of that boat. This is most easily done in one statement in the /officer channel. "/o Next boat is Looseweed – WB Conservative Hagfish." Essential to this duty is knowing what state of damage each boat on the board is at, to anticipate how soon jobbers will be freed up and needing to board another boat. The biggest organizational flaw in experienced blockade squads happens when several boats are simultaneously sunk, and their jobbers all board the same loading boat. Good VAs can anticipate that, will have a second boat ready when necessary, and can prevent jobber logjams from happening. The VA also transfers any necessary stock to XOs or Navs if there is a supply error.
If the Admiral is the informational and decision making nexus of the blockade, the VA is the organizational nexus. Some do everything by hand, some use Excel, some use Google Spreadsheets shared with XOs and the Admiral for clearer communication, but the essence of the position is organization, always knowing what everyone's doing, and being able to tell others where they need to be and what they need to do.
The Jobbing Contact is an on-shore position, responsible for hopping aboard the loading boat and ensuring it gets loaded. They should receive instructions from the Vice Admiral, board the next boat, check to ensure the “accept blockade jobbers” button is clicked, and job any new additions to the blockade effort aboard that boat. If possible, they should shout in crewchat every 30 seconds the name of the currently loading boat. They wait for the XO and Nav to arrive, and stay onboard until the boat enters the board, whisking home as the boat enters the fray.
Third party software such as Quartermaster to automatically job mates aboard can be useful, but JCs should always be selected who can do it manually if necessary, due to software reliability issues. the manual technique is quick and reliable, when you receive a tell, click the 'up' arrow until you get the automated text line to reply to that person in a /tell. Then overwrite the '/tell' text with '/job' and hit enter.
The XO is responsible for ensuring the boat is stocked and crewed properly, as well as for supporting the navver in whatever ways possible. Upon boarding a boat, the XO should always check the hold to make sure the boat has rum and shot, as well as check to ensure the ‘accept blockade jobbers’ toggle is clicked. The XO’s foremost responsibility is to chose talented gunners as quickly as possible and get them the gun orders they need. Next, the XO should make sure no pirates laze, all pirates are stationed. Asking pirates to swap stations to maximize puzzle output generally isn’t worth the trouble, because people will chose the station they’d prefer to do. The most important stations on a blockade boat are, in order, guns, bilge, sails, carpentry. One extra sail token can mean avoiding five minutes worth of extra carpentry. Once the boat is on the board, the XO is responsible for ensuring pirates stay at stations, and for informing the navigator of the staffing levels and navigators of nearby boats, by using the /who command. In the event a boat overfills, the XO should work with the JC to get excess jobbers off of the boat and onto the next one loading.
Solid did some independent research that is very useful for XOs when filling puzzle stations, regarding puzzle output, which may be found here:
The gist is that all carpenters and bilgers efforts are contributed equally to the boat, but that less than half of the sailing stations on each boat contribute their 'full value' of sparkle power toward generating tokens, the remaining stations contributing much less. The lesson learned is when undermanning boats with talented jobbers, fill half the sail stations and all the carpentry and bilge stations. The secondary lesson learned is that a full squad of "Good" sailors isn't near as effective as a squad of half "incredible" half "poor" sailors. Talented puzzlers mean a lot.
Solid breaks the numbers down in detail in the above linked post, and they're very interesting.
The Navver’s port-side administrative responsibilities are first, to triple-check the hold for rum and shot, and let the VA know if he needs more. Second, triplecheck the ‘accept blockade jobbers’ toggle. Third, watch the boat fill, using a blank /who command every few seconds as it fills, and deport before the boat overfills. This is very important for quick turnaround times. If the JC or Rover isn’t calling the boat out quickly enough in /cr, help them. Once the navver deports, he is bound by honor and responsibility to follow the orders of the Admiral regarding where to go on the board.
The Rover’s responsibility is to understand each of the other position’s responsibilities, and fill in where necessary. This could be anything from Vice Admiral or Nav to XO, but often means merely helping the JC shout which boat is loading, or entertaining a bored crew in /crewchat with trivia. On doubloon oceans, be ready to innspam early and often. (see above)
Communication in the Fandango Method
Use Ventrilio or Teamspeak, with two channels. One channel is exclusively for navigators who are on the board, to coordinate moves and take strategic instructions from the Admiral. No other idle chatter is allowed in the nav channel. The second channel is for XOs, Jobbing Contacts, the Vice Admiral, Rover, and anyone else wanting to hang out with the blockade staff. Onlookers can be allowed into the nav channel, but only if they’re silent.
When navs coordinate moves, they must always indicate which boat they are, and which boat they’re talking to, clearly and concisely. Don’t say “I’m right,” don’t say “Looseweed is going right,” say “Conservative Stickleback is turning right and firing over my left side.” Anything else is meaningless to the other navvers and a waste of Vent bandwidth. Do not drone on, do not hem and haw, and try to minimize the invariable need to complain, as any of that might interfere with other navvers coordinating their moves.
The Need for Voice Communication (or not)
Voice chat is prevalent, but not required to run a blockade. Voice chat for token coordination among less experience navvers can be a boon, but if voice chat is overused, or used at all for anything other than coordinating on-board tactics, it can be a dramatic hindrance to clear communication, which hampers blockade operations. Do not put too much faith in voice communication, as some of the best blockades in the history of the game have been run without them.
All official administrative communication in the Fandango Method goes over the officer chat channel, not voice. This is important. Which boats to load, navver assignments, stock requests, damage reports, and the like must be over a method that’s clear and reliable, that all members have access to, and that is permanent so it can be referred back to in the hectic blockade environment. The only crucial information to go over crewchat should be the boat currently being loaded, which should be shouted over /cr every 30 seconds or so by either the JC, the XO of the loading boat, the Rover, or even all three.
Less critical discussion between the VA and XOs, such as the collection of damage reports, can be done over voice, but if it gets stepped on, or gets cumbersome, switch to /o channel for it as well.
Instant messenger clients such as AIM can be very useful for direct communication between specific elements of the blockade staff, such as between the Admiral and Vice Admiral, but use of these is not recommended unless both parties are very familiar with them. They are not recommended for any sort of global communication, and all important information still needs to be relayed in /officer.
The Blockade Timeline
The blockade itself can be broken down into a number of steps that occur over a time line in a certain order. Fandango pulled off blockades where the entire process, from target selection, to staff selection to boat floating, to stock, to parley and jobber acquisition, to go-time was 24 hours or less, so it can be done. It's just not ideal, and for most flags who aren't as finely tuned for war, likely impossible.
T-minus 24 Hours
The war is declared on the defenders. The war chest is dropped. At this point all in-flag ships should be at the island, for if the defender reciprocates your war declaration you would not be able to port your ships or be able to float them. Any post-warchest floating must be done in an unaligned crew, to avoid risk of floaters getting sunk. Ideally, 75% to 100% of your supplies should be at the island and ready to be distributed to your ships. If not, coordinated supply acquisition efforts across your flag will need to be done.
Test all third party software to be used. Make arrangements for Ventrilio or Teamspeak servers, and test them to ensure the ping to and from them isn't prohibitively bad such that it interferes with communication. Have all jobbing contacts test 3rd party jobbing software macros (Quartermaster/etc) at this time, and ensure they're capable of doing their job manually if necessary. Test video recording software if it is to be used.
T-minus 3 Hours
Prestock all your vessels. 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 additional supplies needed just in case. If you're using voice software, it should be tested by this time to work out any possible bugs. The stock ship should be unlocked.
Note that any of the "3 hours" tasks listed could easily be done the day beforehand, to reduce stress and playtime the day of the blockade.
T-minus 1 Hour
Your navigators should be finalized, and any navigators who haven't shown up yet to check in should be substituted for. You should begin pairing XOs with navigators and deciding who will begin with what ships. Navigators and XOs should have all the info for voice communication if needed. XOs must be ranked fleet officer or higher, and it is recommended that navigators are also of fleet officer or higher rank in the blockade crew. If not, make sure XOs understand that they are responsible for some of the responsibilities usually earmarked for the navigator, such as deporting when full, and disengaging/re-engaging for oceanside entry if necessary.
Double check to make sure all blockade navigators have read and understand Bifnot's strategy guide, and that all blockade staff have read and understand The Fandango Blockade Method. (Ideally you'd do this before they're selected to nav.)
Starting at T-Minus 1 hour, start a Nav/XO/Admin meeting on a large boat in port, where you relay the Nav/XO pairs to your navvers, answer any questions, etc. Attendance at the meeting should be mandatory, and latecomers should either be forced to the back of the line for blockade assignments, or bumped from the blockade effort entirely. Everything listed above should be explained in detail to those at the meeting, and the meeting should be timed so it concludes at approximately T-Minus 30 minutes.
T-minus 30 Minutes
Start jobbing people. 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 problems since the navigators will be reluctant to give over command of their ship.
(2007 edit: underjobbing boats using Solid's XO guide to staff fewer sailors can work well, but is only recommended if your jobbing pool is of above average puzzling talent. Staffing levels for the new expansion boats (Baghlahs, Dhows, Longships) are currently a subject of debate.)
T-minus 10 Minutes
Check the jobbing numbers of both flags with the /fwho command. Check the docks to see what number and class of boats your opponents are filling. Compare the staffing numbers of both sides, and make adjustments to your staffing strategy accordingly.
T-minus 5 Minutes
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 begin to pick gunners. If the blockade is on a greener ocean and gunners are scarce, consider moving them between boats.
T-minus 2 Minutes
Any War frigates that have less then 35 people should be should be broken down into a war brig at this point, unless jobber influx is sufficient to get the boat onto the board in the next 5 minutes or so. Have all remaining jobbers go onto to smaller class ships otherwise. Notify over crew chat again that 2 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 /officer 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 boats. XOs should be encouraging them all to take stations.
T-minus 30 seconds
The Admiral should be on a boat that can be deport the second that the blockade begins to look at the board. Usually a sloop with no supplies will work.
T-Minus Zero, Go Time
All navigators with fully staffed boats deport as soon as the league point indicator at the island minimap turns from blue to red, and await immediate deployment instructions from the Admiral.
Determining Oceanside or Island Side
Attacking flags get a choice of which side of the board they want to attack from. When a blockade goes live, hit the "Deport" button to join the blockade. To go oceanside, the navigator then "disengages" from the fight, putting him on a league point outside the island, to which he then "ports" at the island, putting him on the ocean side of the blockade board.
Typically attacking flags have all boats enter on the side with the most flags. Sometimes attacking flags split their boats up between islandside and oceanside entry, some to snag points, some to harass incoming defenders. Defenders can enter oceanside before round 1 by deporting boats before the blockade goes live, and entering from the league point instead of from the island. This is a gamble, because they must make the decision before they see the flag coverage. Often times defenders will have one or two boats enter oceanside, to contest points, while having the bulk of their fleet enter islandside.
Directing Ships for Mutual Support and Flag Management
In a two way blockade, where you are even or ahead on EJR, go for maximum flag coverage and jobber utilization. In a three way blockade, stake out a portion of the board equivilant to your approximate EJR to the total number of jobbers in the blockade, establish and protect an incline, and rely on your opponents to cancel each other's points.
If an opponent holds a cluster decisively with multiple boats, do not send your boats on suicide influence runs individually unless points are very critical. Try to attack the cluster in groups, to maximize your effectiveness and your chances of taking the cluster over, instead of merely canceling influence until you're sunk.
If you are heavily behind on EJR, adjust your strategy.
Closing of Round 1
In the event of a decisive win, (or a decisive loss) you can minimize boat losses and conserve stock by withdrawing. Calculate whether a win or loss is decisive by multiplying the total number of flags on the board by the number of rounds remaining, and comparing that to the point differential. Even after a round has been decisively won or lost, it may be good strategy to stay until the end and focus on sinks.
After the flags go down, damaged boats should withdraw as soon as possible and their jobbers should be directed to other fresh boats before the next round starts. Relatively healthy boats should cover the retreat of damaged boats, and should pursue enemy boats who appear damaged to prevent them from withdrawing. If a blockade is nonsinking and your flag has far more boats in its fleet than it will likely need, it may save some time to abandon the boat on the board.
If a defending boat is relatively unharmed, and has plenty of remaining stock, an admiral may wish to send it oceanside instead of having it return to port, for an oceanside entry at the begining of the next round. Its jobbers can be topped off while waiting at the league point.
Break between Round 1 and Round 2
If not using the automated pay feature, pay should happen during the break, time permitting. If using Quartermaster, it can be done at any time. If using the Grand Frigate method, you must do it at the very beginning of the break so that you can get people back on ships to be ready to enter the board at the very start of round 2. If too many boats are stranded on the board, consider delaying pay until the Round 3 break. The admiral should have a very good idea of what the opposition plans to field next round. The admiral should make decisions on what kind of ships he wants to start the round, and which navigators he wants on the board immediately. (2007 note: nearly all methods of supplementary pay have been completely abandoned at this point, so much of this paragraph is unnecessary.)
Break between Round 3 and Round 4
The round 3 break bares particular mention, depending on which server you're on. Jobber numbers during the break often drop significantly, which may effect round 4 performance. On older, more established servers (Midnight) no special techniques are generally used to keep jobbers in-crew during the hour long round 3 break, because it's understood that the majority of your true puzzle talent knows how to use a clock, and knows when to be back in-crew for more blockading. On doubloon servers this isn't always the case, and having an early number superiority for Round 4 could mean an early incline and decide that round. Sharp doubloon flags play games, or do trivia, or raffles, or find some other means to entertain jobbers in-crew so they don't wander off and miss the first bit of round 4. Flags who don't have concerted jobber retention efforts usually see a dip of 60% or more in their jobber numbers during the break, and often only job up to within 80% or so of their Round 3 number before Round 4 goes live. Flags who do an excellent job of break jobber retention may only fall to 80%, and may be near or at 100% of their Round 3 number at the start of Round 4. That 20% differential can mean a lot in the early going. Stressing the typical techniques of flag broadcasting, inspamming, etc with ten to fifteen minutes to go before Round 4 starts can help as well.
Some flags throw parlor tables on a Grand Frig to entertain in-flag jobbers during the break, but the preferred technique is to entertain them on a war frigate (or two or three) so they're already in-place and don't have to switch boats for round 4.
See above. Unless the defender has creatively moved some boats oceanside, expect complete islandside entry from the defending squad for rounds 2 through 5. The Admiral and Vice should keep meticulous track of what gets sunk, and how much jobber pay is left, and reevaluate at the end of each round whether they have the ability to continue.
If you are a defender, and about to lose your island MAKE SURE TO EMPTY THE COFFERS/HOLD OF THE PALACE AND THE REAL-ESTATE AGENT.
Always contact the opposing Admiral and congratulate them on a well fought blockade, no matter who won. Get with your staff and coordinate the transfer of all blockade stock back to the stockship, and assign someone to take a fleet inventory.
Always congratulate your staff on a well fought blockade, and thank them for their efforts. Time permitting, do a quick question and answer session about what went well, what went wrong, and what lessons you learned from the experience. Summarize that discussion and post it on your flag forums, if you have them, to document it as an after-action-report. These are useful for all flags, even experienced blockaders, to refine and improve their blockade processes in the future.
Contributors to this page
Jacktheblack, Whitefire, Looseweed, Cohog, Halee, Inanna, Jamesdoom