Rules of Engagement
Before attacking a ship in the Open World, note that even large fleets are represented by a single ship in the Open World. Therefore it is advisable to check a target's information carefully.
Left-click on the intended target, it is then highlighted by a small circle drawn on the water around it. An information window is shown in the upper right corner of the display. The info window will indicate the nationality and type of ship, plus icons for any other ships accompanying it as a supporting fleet. If it is a player controlled ship (or fleet) from the same nationality, the player's rank and name (and clan name) will be shown. If it is a player controlled ship of a different nationality, the display will show "Enemy player". Also displayed is the Battle Rating (BR) for the target to compare to your own and assist in estimating your chances of success.
Options are also shown for sending a Private Message or Invite to Group for player controlled ships of the same nationality. For foreign ships (player controlled or AI controlled), an Attack button is shown that will be inactive (dull) when you are out of attack range.
When the Attack button is active (bright), you may left-click it to 'tag' your prey and begin a 15 second attack countdown. Once tagged, the red crossed swords battle marker appears above the target ship and two more circles are drawn around your ship. An "attack" circle whose radius marks the distance where the Attack button went active, and a much larger Pull circle.
This is the radius around the attacking ship that the target ship must be kept within for the attempted attack to succeed. To abort an attack, steer away from the target ship until it is outside the attack circle when the counter reaches zero. To escape if you have been tagged, try to flee on a heading towards a point on the perimeter with favorable wind conditions.
Player and NPC ships of the same nationalities within the 'pull' circle will be brought into the battle instance where the actual ship to ship combat will take place. Only ships of the same nation as the attacker or the attacked are pulled into battle. This applies to player controlled and NPC ships.
Battle Instance Launch
When the tag timer expires and the battle starts, all ships 'pulled' into battle will spawn into a separate battle instance. All ships keep their relative positions and headings under the same wind conditions as they existed in the Open World. It is therefore important to maneuver for best possible advantage before the tag timer reaches zero.
Open Battle Instances
Open battle instances are visible in open world by a crossed swords symbol. When clicking the crossed swords, battle information will be displayed in an information tab on the screen.
The battle can be joined by entering the circle labelled for the side you want to join. In case one side is your nation, only that side can be reinforced. Ships will spawn relative to the open world position from where they entered, so ships entering on the far side of the circle will be very far away from the ships that initially started the battle.
Battle instances remain open for at least 2 minutes for both sides and up to 20 minutes for the weaker side. After 2 minutes, an auto-balancing feature is in place that allows other players to join the weak side only for up to 20 minutes. The weaker side is evaluated by battle rating difference. As soon as the battle is balanced (battle rating difference is <13%), the battle is closed immediately. If the battle rating difference is >13%, the battle remains open for the weaker side. It is possible that the formerly weak side becomes the strong side if the weak side receives strong reinforcements. In this case, the battle still remains open, but for the new weak side (formerly strong side).
Example (thanks to El Patron):
yesterday in the battle
bellona (500br) vs my Santi (900br)
after 8min the 2nd bellona and the hermione joined on the enemy side (thats 1215br vs my Santi 900br) after that battle was still open
after 10min christian joined on my side + 600 br
after 12min agga joined enemy side
|Time||BR 1||BR 2||BR Difference||Open||Ships|
|0||900||500||80%||both||Santi vs Bellona|
|2||900||500||80%||2||Santi vs Bellona|
|8||900||1215||35%||1||Santi vs 2 Bellona, Hermione|
|10||1500||1215||23.5%||2||Santi, Christian vs 2 Bellona, Hermione|
|12||1500||1555||3.7%||none||Santi, Christian vs 2 Bellona, Hermione, Agamemnon|
This example shows how the auto-balancing works. The battle is initiated by a Santi and a Bellona and stays open for both sides for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, the auto-balancing is in place. As the battle is not balanced (BR difference is >13%), the battle remains open only for the weak side. After 8 minutes, two ships join the battle on the Bellona side and the Santi is now the weak side. After 10 minutes, a Christian joins the Santi flipping the weak side again. Finally, after 12 minutes more ships join the Bellona fleet establishing an almost equal battle and the battle is closed for both sides.
Note that the BR values in this example are dated from a pre-release test. Actual BR values might be different.