Master at Arms
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Master at Arms (MAA) is an position similar to that of the Executive Officer (XO), differing both in duties and the fact that it has official recognition - it was added in with the Atlantean Update, which denotes the person(s) in charge of selecting defenders from amongst a group of volunteers, in order to begin a fray in an attempt to drive off dragoons.
Once a ship has entered the Atlantean Outpost, any of the crew's officers can give the order to "Organize the defense against the boarders." Those mates who have received such orders are denoted on the vessel tab by an icon portraying a trident set against a shield.
Once the first dragoon(s) have boarded the ship, everyone aboard is given the option to volunteer to defend the ship, at which time they are displayed upon the Defense Panel. From there, any officers and/or Masters at Arms can select or de-select any of the volunteers. Once there are battle-ready dragoons, they may start a fray composed of all battle-ready dragoons against the selected defenders.
It is common convention for the Master at Arms to call for volunteers, with an emphasis upon the would-be-defenders' standing in Swordfighting. Having assembled an appropriate list of "Designated Defenders," the Master at Arms has then constructed a solid base around which the defense can be organized.
Like the role of the Commanding Officer, the Master at Arms' management of the frays is largely dependent upon the preference of the crew and navigator they're working with. The ultimate task of any Master at Arms is to select enough defenders to win the fray, while still managing to avoid taking needed hands away from their necessary duties (sailing, bilging, etc). The prevalent philosophies for this involve ratios of 1.5:1 or 2:1, in terms of defenders versus dragoons. An alternate approach is to arrange for defenders to always outnumber the dragoons by a force of two.
There are a number of duties that almost every MAA handles. Here are a few of them, along with some techniques used to address them, and what the best MAAs do when confronted with issues.
Tips and advice
- Have Notepad up so that you can keep track of your Designated Defenders.
- Keep in touch with your navigator, if the frays are getting out of hand or you have lost, or are indeed about to lose, and if the ensuing force of dragoons would jeopardize the ship, it is important to advise him or her to enter the safe zone to reset the dragoons.
- Masters at Arms are not necessarily part of the crew, further emphasizing communication between you and the crew's officers - If someone needs to be planked and you are unable to do so, tell those who can.
- Have a backup plan in place. If you need to step away for whatever reason, the dragoons are still going to be there and frays still need to be addressed. A back-up MAA is never a bad idea.
- It is a priority that you let your defenders know that there will be consequences should they abandon the fray. Don't be afraid to make an example of such a mate, if needed.
- Sword Fighters may get frustrated with your decision to exclude them from a particular fray. Have a plan in place to deal with these individuals.
- While it's nice to rely solely upon your Designated Defenders, there will be a times at which you will need every single volunteer. Some of these well intentioned volunteers may not be well versed in tactics and strategy. It is important that you direct them.
- Be courteous to your valued defenders. Without them, you are nothing more than one pirate against a multitude of dragoons. You can't do it by yourself.
- Make sure that your Designated Defenders always volunteer, it's easy to forget to re-volunteer for the tenth time, and it's detrimental for you to rely on mates who aren't going to be there for you.
Payment and reputation
As a general rule, players do not get paid any extra for MAA-ing incursions. Some captains may share the crew cut, but this is neither common practice nor something that can be expected. However, players who MAA regularly tend to profit through the social puzzle, such as finding themselves retained as (often paid) mercenaries sought after by crews attempting an incursion, or by working their social network to get onto incursions run by other experienced MAAs through their hearties. This being said, a great deal of MAA work remains pro bono (for the general good, without extra payment).