The In Combat Effect in 2.14
As Fodderboy mentioned in his most recent devlogs, cannon ranges are being increased to 750 yards in build 2.14. We felt that we need to make a change to the In Combat Effect to go along with this change. Currently, the In Combat Effect is applied to a target whenever it is attacked, and prevents the target from escaping an encounter. The increase in cannon range would have made it easier to hold someone in combat by kiting at ranges where it's very hard to apply damage and fight someone off, which we felt would lead to an increase in griefing. This was something we did not want.
As of build 2.14 you must do damage in order to apply the In Combat Effect. If you fire from maximum range and all your shots miss, the In Combat Effect is not applied or refreshed. The amount of damage you must do to apply the In Combat Effect to your target is proportional to the size of the target (it will take more damage to apply the In Combat Effect to a Victory 1st rate than it will to a Hornet gunboat).
We encourage you to test out these changes on the Test Server and to share any feedback you have with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.