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As a good war master, you should make sure you are available to your flag mates to answer questions both in game and on your flag's forum (hopefully you have one). You should also have regular communication with the flag ambassador & dock spy positions. Keep the flag updated as to what is happening and what needs to be done. Because many of us have young impetuous people in our crews and flags, it may be useful to remind people of what it means to be good sports and the importance of being gracious, win or lose.
"Too many cooks spoil the broth." Having too many war masters/coordinators/admirals can be detrimental towards your flag's blockade effort especially when critical decisions are needed in a matter of seconds. For example, in some cases, having more than the necessary number of organizational staff can lead an undermanned ship being sent out or no one willing to take the make-or-break decision. A clear chain of command is needed, and it usually boils down to a single pirate making important decisions quickly. In some flags, the position of assistant coordinator or admiral is created so that others may learn the ropes under the guidance of an experienced blockade coordinator.
Things for Other People to Do
Flag Ambassador – Start checking with your allies and potential allies about what kind of support you can expect to get from them. The also includes "support" via a mutual ally staying neutral during the blockade contested by two allies.
Dock Spy – Size up the competition's fleet by having people periodically check the dock and taking note of the ship names and owning crew of anything that's a war brig or larger. This info can be double-checked using /vwho later because ships can be moved using all sorts of temporary crews or allies. This should be tracked in an spreadsheet with the following fields: Ship Name, Ship Size, Crew, Flag.
Alt Blockade Crew
The alt blockade crew serves multiple purposes.
- allows for the entire flag to participate equally as a team by using alts (or even main pirates if they wish)
- having the alt blockade crew publicly & internally makes it a flag effort because no one flag crew is used in particular
- taps the entire flag for assistance in ship moving
- during ship moving, no normal crew has to risk their PVP rating in case of various attacks
- lets you use those odd crew name puns that you wouldn't normally get a chance to use :)
- makes things easier to coordinate during the blockade itself
In the case of of doom, anyone that was an officer in a flag crew a senior officer in the Zeta Blockers (ZB), which was Oligarchic. This worked well for them because those senior officers could create officers when the captain wasn't on, covering a wider range of time zones. This also allowed ship deeds to be moved into the crew using the individual crews' officers instead of having a giant mess of deeds all held by one person. It's critical to have enough flagmates as fleet officers and higher in the alt blockade crew as they will be needed in order to be able to deport, give gunning and navigation orders, help restock, and give reports on how damage is going. The instructions given to officers were:
- Officers in ZB will be assigned to help navs. There will be at least two of you per nav in case of disconnects or needing to go or just supporting each other.
- You'll help with giving orders to nav, gun, deport and port. For gunners the nav will either tell you who or have you select.
- Keep crew chat to a minimum and use /o instead. I'll be asking you for damage reports occasionally (or yell if your ship is in trouble).
- When it's time to port, I'll ask you if a new ship is needed or if the ship is not filled with damage, I will need to know the stock levels on board so we can restock. The nav can give you guidance on if a new ship is needed.
- Be prepared to help shuttle people off to the correct new boat. Make sure to use the full name of the ship as just the fish name isn't enough for some of the more excitable folks.
- If you run MSN, give me your ID. We're also doing teamspeak. For both of these, please keep the talking to a minimum as it's mainly for nav talk and coordination issues.
- Let me know if you've any questions.
ZB used the private crew information to contain a list of alts & their main pirate names so everyone could easily see who everyone else was. The crew info was also used to give more specific instructions, but in general everyone just knew that any ship in the crew that wasn't at Zeta needed to be floated up there. Public crew information was used to just let people know that it's our alt blockade crew and listed the main jobbing contact.
The biggest advantage to the alt blockade crew comes during the blockade itself in the arena of jobbing. Because all the ships were in one crew, there was no vast mess where people had to be jobbed to a different crew when they needed to switch to another undamaged or unsunken ship.
In general, it's best to get as many "sinkable" war brigs as possible with some war frigs. A few cutters are okay, but not really such a good idea if there are real contenders in the blockade. A merchant galleon or 2 merchant brigs will be needed to hold supplies. As stated before, all these ships should be moved into the alt blockade crew. Keep track of the ship info in a spreadsheet such as Excel or Google Spreadsheets for shared access. Guppymomma was known to use the following columns: Ship Adjective, Ship Fish, Ship Type, Crew, Flag, Original Deed Holder, Location, Order of Use Ranking. Almost all ships were moved up completely empty. If they had supplies on them, they were moved to the merch supply ship(s) to make initial stocking easier to do without hopping on all the ships (also limits revealing the entire fleet at the dock). When the final list of ships is created, decisions should be made as to which ships to use when. Many flags rank ships for earlier use if the crew has a lot of them and crews with only one war brig are listed much later in the usage list. Sometimes a couple of special ships will be on the list as last resort ships. If allies are bringing ships into the blockade on your behalf, you should be tracking those in the same spreadsheet, but they won't have ranking as their flag will decide that.
It's not that hard to job into a crew and "spy" on the number of ships they have at dock, but there's also really no need for you to broadcast this information to the ocean/your competitors. Blockade coordinators may decline to answer when asked for specific ship numbers unless asked by the Monarch, Royalty or a Flag Captain.
Non-Sinking Note: In a non-sinking blockade you will probably have more people willing to put in ships (as will contenders and there will probably be more people just wandering into it for fun). If it's non-sinking, it's okay to use some cutters for flag sitting depending on the amount of opposition and what the blockade board looks like.
Get lots of supplies, mainly fine rum and medium shot and a fair number of large shot if you are planning on using war frigs. Supplies should be sailed in sloops using the same kinds of methods people on trading runs use—fast sailors and avoiding battles. At a minimum, there should be about 125 medium shot/50 fine rum per round multiplied by the number of war brigs multiplied by 3 rounds. This will vary again depending on your navigators' styles, so check with them. Try to strike a balance between giving ships enough stock that they function well in the round and the chance that everything on board will be lost to sinking. Keep track of the supplies in a tab in the spreadsheet as well. That includes tracking what's been used during the blockade, so decisions can be made if supplies start to run low and a restocking run is needed or withdrawal is preferred.
Non-Sinking Note: "Sinking" in a non-sinking blockade will not destroy the stock on board the ship.
Figure out your list of navigators. Because many people are eager to try their hand at blockade nav, this list can be longer than what you'll be able to use. Tell people right off the bat that they potentially may not get to blockade nav. Your nav list will need to be ranked according to what you can figure out as the various people's skill levels are. The top one on the list will get the first filled ship, then the second, and so on.
It's also highly helpful to have your navigators (and any ally navs taking in ally ships) talking/coordinating during the blockade in a medium other than YPP. We used MSN as it was what most people already had or could easily get on. Two other popular option are Skype and Teamspeak, both of which allow you to speak, rather then type, to your fellow navigators. They require all navs to have headsets or microphones. Skype allows up to five people to talk together, however, as it sends data peer to peer rather then through a server, quality can begin to suffer as you add new callers. Computer to computer communication is free. Teamspeak requires a central server which allows some number of players to talk to one another. Teamspeak is a commercial software package, so you may have to pay for this service, usually on a per-connection-slot basis. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it's accessible to all your navs and that everyone, especially you, knows how to use it. (Check the External Links at the end of this page for more suggestions.)
Also if your navs are experienced at blockades, find out from them their preferred level of stocking. This can highly variable. I've gotten preferred round stocking numbers for a war brig anywhere from 50 fine rum with 100 medium shot to 75 fine rum with 300 medium shot. This will be handy for prestocking the ships for initial use and for stocking replacement ships in case of sinking or heavy damage. Some of the freelance navs tend to prefer to join the blockade crew temporarily for ease of being able to deport/give orders if needed and rejoin their original crew.
The nav info went in another tab in my spreadsheet: Nav Name, Nav MSN ID, Nav Ranking. You could also stick in the preferred stocking numbers as well.
Various crews/flags hire themselves out as mercenaries. Some bring fully staffed ships to the blockade and others will bring navigation skills. Prices will vary depending on the crew/flag. Mercenaries can be found on the various oceans; check Piratical Parley and Politics and The Bazaar for mercenary services.
At the Start of the Blockade
Tasks & Roles
Sometimes it can be helpful to have, in addition to the Ambassador and Spy, other people on hand to handle certain aspects of the blockade:
Stockmaster - If you aren't prestocking your ships, you'll need somebody to stand on the stock ship and distribute rum and shot to ships as they leave port. (It's generally a good idea to do it by Pirate instead of by Ship. That is to say, have the commanding officer stand on the ship, and send the stock to them instead of stocking specific ship names.)
Jobbing Contact(s) - It takes a lot of the weight off the rest of the team if you have a designated jobbing contact, who stands on a large ship (brig or bigger) in port so they can whisk jobbers straight to the island. Generally this person will also be responsible for answering questions from jobbers, and acting as somewhat of a moderator over /cr chat to keep jobbers in line.
Make it clear that crew chat should not be used for idle conversation. Use crew chat to direct people to ships and crew officer to direct your officers to take care of the various tasks. Navigators should already be using a chat mechanism outside of the game as outlined above.
If that is not available, you could try using a shorthand battle notation. e.g. F Pf fR L, which is forward, pause and fire right, right and fire left, and left in that order.
War brigs should have at least 20–22 people on board and war frigates should have at least 50–55. Each ship should also have a minimum of 2 of your officers. This helps cover cases where an out of game issue pops up or an accidental disconnect happens to an officer. Ships should be filled one at a time and it should be made clear to the people on that ship the names of the officers that are in charge. Again, the officers will take care of deporting, giving orders for gunning, giving orders for navigating, planking if needed, and all of those exciting things.
The minimum number of pirates for a ship to have influence in a blockade (not the same as optimal staffing numbers):
- Sloop = 3
- Cutter = 4
- War Brig = 9
- War Frigate = 15
- Grand Frigate = 30
Non-Sinking Note: If it's non-sinking and you have a plethora of ships, you can take the strategic tactic of reducing optimal staffing requirement numbers in order to field more ships on the board.
Hopefully you and the flag Ambassador have advertised the jobbing point(s) of contact enough, along with the time that you'd start jobbing, that you'll have plenty of people. I actively start jobbing flagmates into the crew starting 30–45 minutes ahead of the blockade. Outside jobbers were told to give me a tell 10–15 minutes before the blockade. Ask your allies/friend royalty contacts to do flag broadcasts for you about 15–20 minutes ahead of time so the word starts being spread. Do your jobbing from on board the ship you are trying to fill. Use /who to check on the number of people on board. Once it's got the optimal number of people, announce who is in charge of the ship along with the name of the navigator and let 'em do their thing. Hop on the next ship with the next nav & staffing officers. Your officers will also be able to help job in people that happen to give them tells or whatnot. My biggest advice is to type fast and type well. :) Personally I tried to fight pirate obesity by jogging them...
During the Blockade
Don't hang out on the island, it can be completely torturous lag city. Plonk your pirate on a supply ship so you can work your coordination and restocking voodoo in relative peace. This also lets you give straggling jobbers a whisk to the island. Know how to use /away and /back if there are a million tells and all the ships area already out (info like "all our ships are already in, but I can job you in to wait for the opportunity to board another").
It may be helpful to configure short keys (see links below) to handle these common messages.
Tasks & Roles
Sometimes it can be helpful to have, in addition to the Ambassador and Spy, other people on hand to handle certain aspects of the blockade:
Admiral: 1 - This is the person running the show. They sit on the blockade board with a sloop, in the crow's nest, and communicate with the navvers. They receive information from the vice admiral about what's going on outside the board, jobbing status, the opponent's jobbing status, etc. Every tactical decision made goes through the admiral. This includes: when (if) to pull out, what the navigators should be doing, what type of ship to fill next, etc. This person has the final say on all blockade related matters.
Vice-Admiral: 1 - This is like the Admiral's right hand man. He is the liaison between the Admiral and the rest of the blockade team, especially those outside the blockade board. He does not go on the blockade board, usually sitting on the docks and checking ship numbers. For example, the Admiral would say "fill a brig next", and the Vice Admiral would go down his ship list to find an appropriate brig, and inform the jobbing contacts its name. This should be a 10 second process. Other duties including: assigning navigators to ships, assigning XOs to ships, and taking over everything that isn't covered by someone else. This person needs to be versatile, and fill in whenever necessary. He also needs to have very good communication with the Admiral, who makes the final decisions. Another example: Vice Admiral tells the Admiral there's a WF with 45 people in port, jobbers coming in slowly, should be we go in our wait 3 minutes for the ship to fill. The Admiral makes the final decision, but the Vice Admiral needs to be the one bringing important matters to his/her attention.
Jobbing Contacts: 2-3 - These are the people actually filing the ships. They need extremely fast typing skills, and the ability to maintain cool heads under pressure. For a lot of newer players, these seem like the face of the flag in the blockade, because they are the ones to go to with questions. This means a ridiculous amount of tell spam. They need to relay with the Vice Admiral for decision making purposes, and be able to quickly process information and take actions. This job is a lot more intense then it looks. They need to take the raw information that the Vice Admiral gives them, and put it into action, which often is not the smoothest process ever.
Navigators: 5-10 - These are the people actually driving the boats. All they should be focusing on during the blockade is driving, and which ship they need to get to next if they're not on the board. They listen to the Admiral for directions on what to do, and coordinate amongst themselves during the blockade, for moves and such if necessary. For example: The *shipname* is going right up shoot left turns 3 and 4. This gives other navigators a chance to react.
XO (Commanding Officer): 5-10 - There is one XO for every ship that there is a navigator on. These are the people handling gunning assignments, keeping jobbers in order, and generally answering any stupid questions that greenies may have. You need to keep people fired up about the blockade and puzzling, as well as inform your navigator on what is going on on the board around him. You need to help the Navver as much as possible. This includes /w'ing vessels to see who is navigating, checking the amount of people on each ship, generally keeping an eye on the status of each ship, etc. It is very hard to puzzle while doing this job. Impossible on a WF, and on a WB it's very inadvisable unless the navigator specifically orders you to puzzle.
Quartermaster: 1 - This is the person handling stock, usually sitting on one Grand Frig for the entire blockade. He makes sure that all ships are fully stocked and takes stocking orders from the Vice Admiral, jobbing contacts, or XOs depending on which one notices any errors. It's not as important in an attacking blockade, because it's harder to restock, but it is a job nonetheless. This person may also handle blockade payment, which is a hellish job, and probably will be the one answer questions in crew chat and trying to keep things there in order. Sort of like a flag representative type thing. Most of the questions will be stuff like "why am i not getting paid yet??? you guys are thieves!" and "why arent we swordfighting??" You need to answer all of these in a diplomatic manner. It ain't easy.
Pay Coordinator: 1 - There are different ways of handling pay. Some of them involve each XO paying their ship individually, some involve either the Vice Admiral or Quartermaster doing it themselves, some involve a person specifically assigned to the job to ensure it runs smoothly. This person deals with money matters, ensuring jobbers receive a fair amount of pay, and any pay related questions are directed to him. Another good program to use would be Quarter Master. It has a pay option where it automatically pays all the jobbers that it takes in.
There are always stragglers, let them know that things have started and that ships are already in, but that you're happy to job 'em if they can be patient enough to wait for an opportunity - either enough people to fill another ship or a ship gets sunk & needs additional staff. If you reach critical mass and can fill another ship, hopefully you've got a few ships out with 3 officers on 'em so you can call back one from two ships to help out the nav that has either waited or you've pulled off a well staffed ship.
Make sure you're on the navigator chat, but just let them do their thing & coordinate with each other. You can use both nav chat and your officers to get updates on how things are going. Specifically look for damage levels where there's danger of sinking. That way you can give your officers & nav the name of the next ship so they can direct their ship's crew there. Toward the end of the round when they're headed back, check again on damage levels (if they're high, give them a stocked replacement ship) and check on supply levels so you can restock back up to the nav's preferred numbers (if damage is low and a replacement ship isn't needed).
After the Blockade
The winning flag immediately becomes the owner of the island. The flag's monarch is automatically made governor. On large and medium islands, the governor automatically receives the deeds to all the bazaars and infrastructure buildings, but not the shoppes. On outposts, the governor receives the deeds to all buildings.
Forum Software & Hosts
- http://www.atfreeforum.com/ - Free Forums using phpBB (free forum hosting)
- http://www.createphpbb.com/ - CreatePHPBB (free forum hosting)
- http://invisionfree.com/ - Invision Board (free forum hosting)
- http://www.phpbb.com/ - phpBB (free software)
- http://www.piratehost.org/ - Pirate Host Forums (free forum hosting)
- http://www.invisionboard.com/ - Invision Power Board
- http://www.vbulletin.com/ - vBulletin
- http://www.simplemachines.org/ Simple Machines Forum Software (free software)
- http://www.proboards.com - Proboards (free forum hosting)
Voice Chatting Software
- http://www.skype.com/ - Skype (free) (Windows/MacOS X/Linux)
- http://www.goteamspeak.com/ - Teamspeak (free) (Windows/Linux)
- http://www.ventrilo.com/ - Ventrilo (Windows/MacOS X, can be run on Linux with WINE)
- http://mumble.sourceforge.net/ - Mumble (Windows/MacOS X/Linux; open source, no limit to users on server)
Text Chatting Software
- http://www.aim.com/ - AIM
- http://www.icq.com/ - ICQ (also handles AIM contacts)
- http://messenger.msn.com/ - MSN Messenger
- http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/ - Trillian (combines access to AIM, ICQ, MSN, IRC)
- http://gaim.sourceforge.net/ - Gaim (for AIM, ICQ, MSN, IRC and is available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux)
- http://www.shortkeys.com/ - ShortKeys (So you can type in "!!allin" and have it replaced automatically with "I can job you all the same, but all our boats are in at the moment", and other common commands.)
- http://spreadsheets.google.com/ - Google's free online spreadsheet web-based program. Access can be given to multiple people. Requires a gmail account to use.
- QuarterMaster Pirate Helper - Third-party application used by many flags to help track jobbers.