After my last article about rafts and sailing, many of you mentioned that you wanted me to check back after I had found out more about some of the game's larger warships. I spent the last week trying to find out who had the largest war ship I could find, and tried to see if they would let me take a look at it. My journey led me to The Mercs and Rainbow Ninja clans, who live in the center of Agon dubbed "Afghanistan" by the community. These clans recently crafted a Brigantine class warship, which is a quite a feat considering the costs involved, and the fact they don't have a city with the shipyard needed to build it.
Crafting of boats larger than a raft requires the Shipbuilding skill, which costs 15,000 gold just to purchase. Much like cities, building of ships is done via modules that act as the primary building block unit to craft a ship. The larger the ship, the more modules are required as a key ingredient to craft them. Just to put things into perspective, the cost of a single shipbuilding module requires 200 wood, 40 iron ingots, 50 cloth, and 400 gold. The brigantine class war ship build by The Mercs and Rainbow Ninja clans costs a staggering 30 ship modules, which translates out to 6000 wood, 1200 Iron ingots, 1500 cloth, and 12,000 gold! Since these clans do not have access to their own shipyard, they were forced to raid another city that had one and craft the ship in the midst of the raid while being protected.
Despite being at war with my guild, The Mercs and Rainbow Ninja clans were nice enough to let me join them for a naval assault against a clan from the DUSK alliance. Under their protection, I was escorted in their raid force of about 20-30 people down to the coasts of the desert island via mount. Once we reached the destination for departure, they spawned the ship just off the coast where everyone began to climb aboard. Unlike the rafts, the larger ships have their decks a bit higher off of the water, so the only way to climb on is by the use of netting hanging off each side that acts as a makeshift ladder. Unfortunately Rubaiyat is the home of some massive flying red dragon, which had aggroed us on our journey to the shoreline. The crew manned the various cannons and opened fire on the dragon as they pulled far enough away to be left alone.
The ship itself is much larger than the raft. The large raid force fit fairly comfortably on the ship, and if I had to guess, I'd estimate you could probably fit upwards of 40 people on the brigantine. I was given a chance to take the wheel for a minute, and I have to say that this ship is much harder to handle than the raft. It seemed to turn very sluggishly and sailed through the water maybe around half the speed as the small rafts do, but I suppose this makes sense due to the size of the ship. This particular ship came equipped with 8 cannons in total that pointed in various directions. I counted 4 cannons on one side of the boat, 3 cannons on the opposite side, and a final cannon at the rear of the ship pointing directly behind it. The layout of the ship included a main deck area where most of the cannons and the steering wheel are located, an upper deck level in the back where the rear cannon was, and a small cabin room under the upper deck that made for a nice hiding spot to rest from incoming range attacks.
The cannons are where these larger ships really shine. The cannons are capable of doing damage to structures in player cities the same way a siege hammer would, and also act as a decent weapon against other players. A direct hit from a cannon on another player seems to inflict about 13 damage to someone who is naked, and around 7 damage to someone wearing some moderate armor. While this may not seem like a lot of damage, the cannons are capable of firing in rapid succession rather quickly, with a cooldown in between shots somewhere in the neighborhood of only 2 seconds. Against a player-made city structure, the damage of a single cannon ball shot is pretty much on par with the damage of a single hit from a siege hammer swung by a person.
The cannons offer 2 massive advantages over siege hammers. The first is the obvious range difference. When we arrived off the coast of the enemy guild city, The Mercs opened up with a barrage of cannon fire at the enemy city's cannon tower. While all of the ships cannons were pounding away at the tower, the enemy tried to return fire at us only to find their shots falling short of reaching the beach, let alone our ship. While I can't say exactly how far away that cannon tower was, I can say that it was just at the edge of being visible on my screen. The other major advantage the cannons have is that they do not wear out and break. Siege hammer are notorious for breaking from use long before they do their job, often requiring the attacker to bring dozens and dozens of them to destroy an enemy building. The ship cannons can fire pretty much every 2 seconds, do the same damage, do it from very far away, and never break from overuse.
The Mercs guild leader, Osium, used a very clever tactic to ensure the cannons would be able to hit targets over a hill that was obstructing our view of the enemy city. One of the groups that made up our raid force was sent into the enemy city to act as spotters for the gunners. He had some of his men go into the city, and mark a waypoint on the party's mini-map where key buildings were located so that the ship gunners would be able to zero in on their location without being able to see it. This reminded me of the ghosts from Starcraft who paint the target for the nuclear launches. He also had one of his groups stations on the land near the beach to prevent the enemy from being able to get to close to ship.
Confident in the way the battle was playing out, an ultimatum was issued by Osium to the enemy forces. The enemy didn't take too kindly to his offer, and some of them became determined to try and get onto the deck of the ship. From my vantage point on the ship, the thought of anyone getting close to the boat, let alone getting onto the deck seemed like an impossibility. Even with polearm players stationed at the nets, somehow a bunch of naked Alfars somehow managed to climb onto the deck to try and slay the captain. A melee broke out on the deck and I was nailed a few times while parrying with my sword, but soon after the crazed Alfars were put down on the deck where they bled to death.
So what will sieging look like in Darkfall as ships and war hulks start to be used on a regular basis? The use of naval ships and combat definitely looks to be a serious turning point in the way people will look at warfare in the game. Clans who have their cities on coastal areas will definitely have a new vulnerability used against them by their enemy, and better start preparing for ways to counter these type of attacks. While the use of ships is still new, I watch first-hand how a single ship could cause thousands of gold in damages in a very short amount of time. I hope you found this article informative, and in case you are still looking for more, The Mercs have a few videos of this ship in action from the night before I got to ride it. I urge you to go take a look at Part 1, Part 2, and a second video they have if you want to see it in action for yourself.
Co-Leader of Inquisition