Gunnery is the duty puzzle responsible for loading a ship's guns. When a cannon is loaded in the puzzle, a cannon becomes available to the navigating officer to fire in sea battle. The number of loaded guns is indicated by the cannon counter.
A pirate who has been ordered to gun, or who is playing the puzzle, is known as a gunner.
The goal of the puzzle is to correctly load the four guns as quickly as possible. The gunnery pieces are sent out in all four directions from a wooden barrel, in random order, until there are two of each piece on the board. By default, the barrel is in the middle of the board. However, in a sea battle the barrel will move as the navigator turns the ship. When a piece is used, another of that type will be sent out the barrel. Pieces travel in a straight line until they strike a fixed obstacle (such as a crate, gun, or gunwale), at which point they turn right. If turning right is impossible, they turn left, and if neither is possible, they reverse direction. If one piece runs into any other piece both reverse direction.
In the event that a ship has run out of cannon balls, the gunner will no longer be given shot pieces and will receive the message: "This ship has run out of [size] cannonballs!"
The pieces must be loaded in correct order: powder, wad, then shot. The fourth piece, the bucket, is used to clean out a cannon after it has been fired or if a piece has been loaded in the wrong order. Pieces are maneuvered by placing arrows; a piece traveling over an arrow changes to its direction. It is necessary to place an arrow directed to the mouth of the barrel to move the piece into the cannon. A player may have up to three arrows at a time on the board; after adding additional arrows, the oldest one will be removed.
Like most puzzles, the difficulty of the gunnery puzzle when a player enters it is set relative to that player's past performance. Gunnery lacks the difficulty meter and progressively increasing difficulty the other duty puzzles have; doing things "right" will very slightly raise the difficulty, and doing things "wrong" will very slightly lower it. Generally, the higher the difficulty, the faster the pieces move, though since release 2008-12-16, the speed can be adjusted manually using a slider below the gunning board. See gunning scoring for more details.
When playing the gunnery puzzle in the navy the guns will be fired after all four cannons are loaded. Pirates must have at least apprentice experience at rigging or sailing, carpentry or patching, and bilging to access the gunning mission.
Gunning on player ships
Many officers in charge are very picky about who gets to gun on their ship. On a sloop, only one person can gun at a time - if that gunner is doing poorly, the offensive capabilities of that ship may be hindered. On larger ships, multiple people can gun at once but a less-experienced gunner can still tie up four cannons that could be filled in less time by more skilled players.
Pirates who wish to gun while jobbing with another crew are advised to ask the executive officer politely. If they are refused, it is advised that they find another open duty station or wait until one becomes available. Having a good gunning puzzle standing is advantageous to such requests; it is suggested that less able pirates practice gunning on navy missions to improve their standing.
Hints for gunning
Gunning takes time to master and usually requires many hours of practice to excel.
- Look out for a good board. If you find yourself in a good board don't give it up. A good board is a board in which you can circulate all the gunning pieces to all the cannons without hang-ups.
- Get into a rhythm. Keep the pieces moving and keep the guns loaded. If you keep your rhythm going you should notice an increase in the speed of the pieces. This will help you dramatically if your cannons are being fired constantly.
- Don't scatter pieces. Make sure that all the pieces you need are constantly passing all the cannons so that as soon as its fired you can reload. Don't reach for pieces at the last minute.
- Prepare yourself before the battle. As you engage an enemy, if you are gunning, find a good board and get into a rhythm. Its a good idea to keep the guns loaded before a battle and then start looking for a good board while engaging an enemy.
- (Sloop or Dhow only) If you are allowed to laze, find a good board before getting into battle and sit on it. You will have more time to "shop around" before the battle than during. You will also keep the board you found when you get into battle and won't be penalized for sitting on it.
- One of the fastest ways (if not the fastest) to control your arrows is by using the WASD keys on your keyboard to pick their direction and the mouse and mouse buttons to place them. When adept with this control scheme you can quickly change the direction of your arrows without taking your finger off the mouse button (to use the scroll wheel) or having to click and drag to pick their direction. This makes it much easier to pick out a single piece from a packed row of moving pieces without loading any the pieces which come before or after it into a cannon. This becomes extremely important at higher standings because the pieces move much faster then at lower standings. However, it is still entirely possible to drag and click at the highest speeds if you have enough dexterity.
- Don't board sit (unless on a Sloop or Dhow), that is remain on a single board after you have loaded the cannons. Sitting on a board means you can't load more then 4 cannons at a time, this can be very bad if you're gunning a larger ship that is short on gunners. Example: if two gunners on a War Brig all board sat only a maximum of 8 of the 16 guns could ever be loaded at one time.
- Loading all four cannons on a board is not required to score well. If you can load 2 or 3 cannons swiftly, do so and then find another board. Your score in gunning is based on the amount of time spent on a board with fired guns (you may sit on a board with all guns loaded without penalty) divided by the number of guns you loaded. Example: Loading four guns in 40 seconds will score the same as loading two guns in 20 seconds or three guns in 30 seconds.
- When you first jump on a board quickly survey it, if you can make a loop around 2 or more guns using only one or two arrows go for it, if not it may be advantageous to jump off quickly and find a better board. If you jump off quickly enough your standings won't be affected. Repeat this until you find a suitable board.
- Alternatively, load all the guns on every board you find. For the trickier top right and lower left cannons, try and lead the pieces in together.
- If the pieces are out of order, then use dead ends to your advantage to reverse the order of the pieces by letting the pieces run past a cannon then out again.
- During a Sea Battle jump on a board as soon as a turn in which guns will be fired starts, don't wait for the actual firing of the guns. This way you have a better chance of getting cannons which have been fired and you have more time to load them before the next turn in battle.
- Prior to an unknown release, cannon balls that were washed away using a bucket caused an actual cannon ball to be lost from the hold. This is no longer the case.
- In release 2008-12-16, a slider bar was added to the bottom of the gunning puzzle that allows the puzzler to control the speed at which the pieces move. Interestingly, a speed slider appeared in early builds of the puzzle, but was removed sometime around Beta release 2003-10-22.
- Until release 2004-07-09, gunning was most easily practiced on a training ship rather than a navy ship.
- In Beta release 2003-11-22, the options to fill two or six cannons at once were removed, only allowing loading of four cannons at once.
- In Beta release 2003-10-27, the gunnery puzzle's scoring was modified to ensure higher ratings meant faster guns.
- The two piece limit per piece at one time was introduced with Beta release 2003-10-22.
- Gunnery was connected to sea battle (firing guns means reloading them) with Alpha release 2002-11-08.
Gunnery is most similar to the game ChuChu Rocket!, originally for the Dreamcast, which also has constantly moving pieces which a player guides with a limited number of arrows. Important differences include collision between pieces, the requirement that the pieces enter the goal in a certain order and the lack of a multiplayer mode.
- The gunnery board freezes, and the pieces either stop moving or disappear entirely. Solution: Pause, wait for a couple moments, unpause using the Esc or P keys, if ineffective leave and re-enter puzzle.
- The screen turns blue and completely unresponsive on entering the gun board. Solution: Open a new client and log in again without closing the first. This causes a pirate to disconnect from and reconnect to the server.
- After entering the gunnery puzzle immediately after the beginning of a sea battle turn: if a cannon is filled before it would have been fired in the course of battle, it will fire again. If the gunner fills the cannon a second time, the second fill is not reflected in the gunner's score. Solution: No known fix. To mitigate this bug, gunners could try to avoid placing any pieces into cannons that have fired twice during the current puzzle session.
- Commonly discussed ideas from Game Design
- Official game documents
- Dachimpy's video guides
- Davsbrander's Illustrated Gunning for Dummies
- Bubbablue's Illustrated Gunnery Tutorial
- Gunnery Tips Thread
- Thranduill's Gunnery Video
- Javoch's Guide to Guns
- Gunnery keys
- Samos' Gunning Thread
- Lofwyr's Gunning Video
- Top Gunner - Going from Ultimate to #1
- Boothook's Navy Gunning Guide
|See also: Sea Battle|