The 2.14 update will see some significant changes to the way cannons work in PotBS including both their diversity and importance in the economy as well as how they can best be used in naval combat. In this devlog I will discuss how we're shaking things up with cannon accuracy in order to introduce more dynamic ship battles.
The doctrine of naval warfare during the Age of Sail dictated that the best way to win an engagement was to lay your ship alongside that of your enemy and blast them to splinters with your cannons. This typically took place at ranges of less than 50 yards. Cannons of the period could lob a cannonball huge ranges, nearly a mile, but accuracy and damage potential at that range were nearly non-existent. Some captains would open fire at 1200 yards but this was an ineffective act of intimidation or an act of boundless optimism, hoping for an incredibly lucky shot.
In Pirates of the Burning Sea, line fighting in Port Battles tends to occur at ranges of over 600 yards. The removal of magic invulnerability powers like Invincible and Too Mean To Die made it difficult to close on your enemy without being severely damaged or even sunk during the charge. Brawling has become hard to do because the approach is so deadly.
In the 2.14 patch we will be making a change to the way cannon accuracy is calculated as a function of range. Prior to this patch cannon accuracy would degrade linearly out to 250 yards, and then degrade more shallowly out to the cannon's maximum range (the blue line on the graph). The loss of accuracy between 300 and 500 yards in this system is noticeable, but easily overcome with skills and consumables.
We will be switching to a non-linear system for cannon accuracy degradation. At close ranges cannons will be more accurate than they are now. The loss of accuracy will start out very slow, but quickly accelerate as you reach the mid-range of the cannons. Once you reach the mid-range, accuracy will drop off very steeply. 50 yards could be the difference between solid hits and missing completely. As you get into longer ranges the loss of accuracy flattens out. Fighting at 500 yards will be much the same as fighting at 600, but the hit rates at those ranges will be significantly lower than they are now. An example curve is shown in black on the graph.
The graph is a rough representation of our intentions. Cannon accuracy will have that rough shape, but we are still tuning and balancing the numbers. Our intention is to make close range combat effective and deadly, kiting at mid-ranges difficult to pull off due to the careful range management needed to hit well but extremely effective when done well, and kiting at extreme ranges far less deadly than it is now. We plan to leave ample time for testing this change on the Test Server, and will run several test events (including port battles) so that we can gather your feedback.
In addition to opening up new tactics, this change will allow us to dramatically increase the variety of cannons available. There was a huge diversity of cannon types during this time period, and we intend to introduce this diversity into the game. Long cannons, for example, had better range and accuracy than their standard counterparts, but took longer to reload. Short-barreled cannons could be reloaded quickly but lacked the distance of their longer-barreled cousins. Fodderboy will be posting a devlog in the coming weeks with more information about what you can expect from the gun deck in 2.14.