Van Veen's guide for new players

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This guide is intended to give new players a first orientation to help them

Starting out

Choose a nation

When you create a new character, you have to choose a nation for it. Nation membership cannot be changed, unless you have the Prolific Forger DLC, so choose your nation carefully. If you do not have this DLC, the only way to change nation is to delete your character and create a new one.

Do not be confused by in-game help texts on the difficulty level of each nation. Just ignore it. More important is the current situation on the server. [Victor's Naval Action Map] will give you the best overview of the state of affairs.

Depending on your nation choice, you will start in your national capital or, for nations that do not have a capital, in Shroud Cay.

When starting out, you have rank 1 allowing you to fully crew a Cutter or a Basic Cutter. You do not have any money. So, what can you do?

Tutorial and Exams

First thing and top priority is this: do the in-game Tutorial. By all means, finish the exams first!

The tutorial teaches you how to

  • sail a ship,
  • use your guns,
  • board a ship,
  • demast,
  • repair, and
  • how to win against superior numbers.

All of the above is essential knowledge. Without this, you have zero chance in this game. Use the tutorial to practice. You can repeat any tutorial step as many times as you like.

However, the best is the rewards you receive for passing the exams:

  • instant promotion to rank 6 allowing you to crew a medium size frigate,
  • cash,
  • repairs, and
  • ship notes.

There is no easier nor faster way to rank up and obtain ships and repairs to carry you through the first battles.

First steps

So, you have finished your exam and call yourself a Master and Commander? Congratulations! You can be proud of yourself! The final exam is not easy, even for veteran players.

However, in a real battle against a player, you will very likely not stand a chance. Be prepared to get sunk A LOT. Take it easy, this is part of the game and learn from your mistakes. Use in-battle chat (hit enter during battle and start typing) to communicate with opposing players. Tell them you are new to the game (they can tell by your rank anyway) and that you are willing to learn a lesson. You will be surprised by how much your "enemies" are willing to help you.

For the moment, I'd advise you to not use your ship notes until you have more experience, but this is up to you. Just be warned that ships do not last long. Sooner or later you will lose every ship you own.

The risk-free approach is to sail out in a Basic Cutter. Basic Cutters can be bought in the ship auctions in any port for the cost 0 reales, so getting sunk in a Basic Cutter has no negative impact. Basic Cutters are rarely targeted by enemy players, because they are usually not worth the effort and hard to catch up with. Target NPC traders, e.g. Trader Brig or Le Gros Ventre around your starting port, attack and capture them. By default, you can take one ship in fleet, so you can capture a trader, bring it home and sell ship and cargo for money. Here are some videos [to take on a LGV in Basic Cutters].

Note that capturing ships give less XP than sinking the ship. You also receive more XP when fighting a larger ship (in terms of BR. Sinking LGVs in Basic Cutters yields a nice amount of XP.

You can get yourself a Trader Lynx and do some delivery missions to get some cash money at almost zero risk. Deliveries do not require any investment apart from the ship you sail in. Note that you can enter enemy ports in a trader ship only. If you are in a war ship or have a war ship in fleet, you cannot enter an enemy port. Ask in nation chat where there are safe and profitable mission routes.

Stay away from the patrol areas if you do not like to fight. You will be targeted in whatever ship, because any damage done counts in the patrol zones. Patrol zones are marked by crossed swords in a big circle on the map.

When you have a small amount of reales to spare, hop into a small fast ship and sail to the ports you want to have an outpost at. Creating an outpost allows you to dock a ship in that port, stock items in the warehouse and let's you jump ("teleport") from one outpost to another for a small amount of doubloons.

If you have the Hercules DLC, use this ship immediately after you finished the final exam. Get an outpost in the shallows of the Bahamas (preferably Shroud Cay), stack some repairs there and fight it out. You can redeem a new DLC ship every day, so there is little risk when losing it. Just buy cannons and go for it. When patrol zone is in the shallows, go for it. Every damage you do counts and you will receive 3 combat medals for 6k damage points, 6 combat medals for 20k damage and so on.


Naval Action is a team game. There are solo players and lone wolves, but these are odd creatures, and they are very rare. I strongly recommend you to join a clan to learn the ropes, get help and support in terms of ships and gear.

Get voice communication via Teamspeak or Discord or whatever going with your team mates, so you can communicate more efficiently.

Watch the Combat Log to see where the action is on the map currently. Watch nation chat for warnings on enemy player presence or joint operations. Be aware, that many players have multiple accounts and therefore there are spies in every nation. So, do not announce your actions in nation chat. Use private chat, battle group chat or clan chat instead.

If you have a question or do not understand a game mechanic, post your question in the Help chat.


Delivery missions are good for making money at almost zero risk and zero investment. Just grab a captured Traders Brig or a fast Traders Lynx and run some delivery and passenger missions. Stay in safe waters, choose friendly ports as destinations and you should be able to make a good amount of reals and doubloons with no effort.

You might want to build up some production facilities to generate a basic income. Or, if you are in a clan running a ship line, your clan might ask you to contribute certain resources. In both cases you need to set up manufacturing facilities.

A simple way to make money is to produce rum and sell it at PVP hotspots like Tumbado, Shroud Cay, La Tortue, La Mona or in national capitals. Rum production requires only two buildings, a sugar plantation and a workshop. Check [map] where sugar plantations can be created naturally. Some ports might be more developed by the owning clan and you can produce a larger variety of resources there. Ask your clan or in nation chat in which port you should best get settled. Make an outpost and get together the cash you need to start producing. Rum weighs only 0.1 per item, so you can transport >4000 in a Trader Lynx. You can sell rum for up to ~175 reales per item yielding huge profits. Note that you are not the only with this idea and prices will drop sharply when supply is larger than demand. Monitor prices at free towns or check [map] for contract prices before deciding where to sell.

Ranking up

Gaining XP

In order to rank up you need to gain XP. XP are gained by combat only. There is a small amount of XP obtained by simply sailing from one port to another, but this is absolutely negligible.

XP gained depend on

  1. the damage you do during battle,
  2. the BR ratio of your ship to the other ship, and
  3. if the other ship is an NPC or a player.

Basically, the higher the BR difference between you and your enemy, the higher your XP reward. If you have the Hercules DLC, use your Hercules and start sinking NPC ships of your size and when you are ok with that, move on to sinking 4th rates, then 3rd rates and so on.

Fighting and sinking enemy players yields higher XP than sinking NPCs. Again, if you have a DLC ship, just use it and go to the patrol zones. You will learn a lot and obtain XP on the way. If you don't just capture a ship and do the same.

Gaining Ship Knowledge

You can unlock five ship knowledge slots for each ship type. This allows you to apply knowledge books to your ship and get bonus for various things (e.g. speed, sailing, cannon reload, repair etc.). Ship knowledge are powerful bonuses that you do not want to miss. To obtain these, you have to obtain XP in exactly this ship type.

It is therefore worth thinking ahead which ship you want to use and focus on one or two ship types at a time.

You learn ship knowledge by using books. You can buy books in shops, obtain them from chests or find them by looting ships. There are special books that you can be combined to very powerful encyclopedias (i.e. Gunnery Encyclopedia, Art of Ship Handling, Book of Five Rings).


This is a quick overview of ships for new players and by no means comprehensive.


Traders can enter enemy ports and are used to haul large amount of goods from A to B.

You'll need a fast Traders Lynx for transporting books, special and resources and to open new outposts (and bringing a few repairs on the way).

You might want to have a one or two captured or fast Traders Brigs for hauling your goods into enemy or free ports.

If you have 380+ crew, you can fully crew an Indiaman. These are the largest trade ships in the game, but also very slow when fully loaded. Be sure to stay in safe waters or take an escort ship with you.

Forget about the Le Gros Ventre, it has only slightly larger capacity than a Traders Brig and is slower.

Small Ships

Viable small ships are the Le Requin (DLC), due to its speed and upwind capability and the Niagara due to its heavy carronade armament and excellent dodging capabilities.


The Surprise and La Renommée are good shallow water frigates. The Belle Poule is a tough ship due to its hull shape that bounces many ball shots, but it lacks bow chasers which makes it a poor hunter.

The Trincomalee is the largest frigate that does not require a permit. It has no rear chasers, but four front chasers making it an excellent and powerful hunting ship, especially when used as part of a larger fleet.

The only frigate outmatching the Trincomalee is the Endymion which is better in every aspect, speed, armament, hit points and it even has rear chasers. Permits for Endys are rare and very expensive.

Fourth Rates

The Agamemnon is the standard issue 4th rate. It is a decent ship in every aspect.

The Ingermanland has a heavier main battery than the Aga, but is a little bit weaker on hit points.

Rättvisan is a DLC ship and is therefore for free for those who own it. It is ok, but not outstanding.

Other 4th rates are rarely used by players.

Third Rates

The Wasa is the standard third rate and is an excellent ship overall.

The Bellona is the best ship in class by every aspect except for agility. It requires a rare permit.

Second Rates

Second rates are rarely used by players. They sit in between 3rd and 1st rates and seem to have missed the sweet spot there in terms of BR, fire power, speed and hit points. They might see a big comeback when BR for port battles is reduced though.

The Christian is the top ship of the class and permits are rare. The Christian is an excellent sailor achieving almost the same speed of a Bellona, but has more hit points and fire power. Therefore, you see Christians in PVP action sometimes, but rarely alone.

First Rates

The Victory is currently rarely used by players due to inferior hit point and fire power compared to the other first rates.

The L'Ocean is the standard first rate. The Santísima Trinidad requires a rare permit. These two ships are used in port battles as work horses in the line of battle.

Battle Tactics

This chapters should give you some first useful hints how to approach battles. It is by no means exhaustive or complete. Every battle is different and you have to adapt your tactics to every new situation. Again, this guide is for new players.

Guns Management

Aim your shots with single shot and watch the shot with your telescope before firing a whole broadside into the water or too high.

If you have mixed armament (e.g. carronades on the top deck, longs guns on the bottom deck), make sure you aim for each gun type separately. Carronades shoot at higher angles. Use F1 to F4 to toggle your gun decks on or off for firing.

You can switch on or off reloading for a whole broadside (all gun decks) by hitting F5. Switching off one side lets the crew assigned to the guns go to other stations. This way, you can accellerate gun reload of one side at a time or add additional crew to repairing.

You have only a limited number of chain shots per battle and you can save some of those if you shoot only chain using your main gun deck. As your main gun deck yields higher damage than your top deck, you get more damage per shot.

When fighting multiple enemies, you might want to save your main gun deck which has the highest reload time for a specific target. When a player is angled to you, you might want to disable your main battery and shoot a broadside making him think you shot a complete broadside. So he might show his broadside to you straight feeling safe for the moment. Then shoot your main battery and do maximum damage.

Damage Model

It is important to understand the underlying damage model when trying to survive a close battle. Your ship has 5 damage bars: bow, stern, left, right and structure. Shooting at the stern removes hit points from the stern damage bar, shooting on the left side removes hit points from the left damage bar and so on.

Damage is only substracted when a shot is able to penetrate the armour (thickness). Small caliber guns penetrate less than larger calibers. Penetration also drops sharply with increased distance. Carronades have significantly less, medium guns have moderately less penetration than long guns, but therefore more damage points.

When a ball penetrates the armour (sides, bow or stern), it might also damage cannons, crew and structure. When side, bow or stern armor damage bar is down, all damage dealt goes directly to the structure. In some cases, shots also penetrate through the structure and cause damage on the opposite side.

Masts also have hit points and armour (thickness) and the damage model works in the same way as for the hull sides. Masts are segmented into lower(, middle) and top mast, each having different hit point pool and thickness.

When structure hit points are low, chances are higher to demast the ship.

Very low structure slows down a ship significantly and it starts taking on water. Pumps bail out the water to a certain extent and now and then a good crew is able to pump out a ship which was deemed lost.

Sails also have individual hit points, but only the overall percentage of sail area left is shown instead of damage bars.


There are three types of repairs: hull repairs, rig repairs and rum (repairing crew). You need to have repairs of each type in your hold in order to use them in battle. Repairs fill up hit points of rig or hull. Rum revives dead crew (this is pure magic!).

You can only issue one repair at a time, either hull or rig with a cooldown of approximately 12 minutes (this value can be heavily modified by books, perks and ship upgrades). Crew repair (rum) has a cooldown of 20 minutes. Repairs take quite a while and you need to assign crew to the repair team, reducing your crew on the guns and other stations.

Thus, it is important to choose your repair (sail or hull?) wisely depending on the battle situation and your strategy. Quite often, you'll see players repairing sails damaged only to 95% instead of hull, even if their hull is down at 50%. Their intention is clearly to get away more quickly, giving them more time for the next repair.

When starting a sail repair, damage done to masts is reset instantly, drastically reducing the chance of getting demasted immediately.

Angling and Tanking Damage

The damage you take is drastically reduced if your hull is not perpendicular to the cannon ball flight curve. When your hull is angled towards the cannon ball flight path, it needs to penetrate a larger thickness of armour. It is therefore possible to take a full broadside and receive little to no damage, because the shots just bounce off (this you can actually see in game) or they do only minor damage to the armour.

When you point your bow directly to the enemy ship, all he can do is hit your bow armour, your sails or your mast. The bow presents only a very small target and its strong curvature lets many shots bounce off without damage. Bow tanking is essential when fighting ships larger than you or larger numbers of ships.


Demasting is easier than most new players think, provided you have the necessary caliber to penetrate the mast thickness and you are close enough.

Use single shot. Use only your main gun deck. Range should not be higher than 100m (two big ships length). When side-by-side, aim a little bit ahead of the mast and observe the flight.

When the target shows its bow or stern to you, you can fire your whole broadside at the masts. Use your cannon convergence (e.g. Water or 250m) to focus, watch your angle relative to the other ship (turn rates, speed) and let the broadside go. Note that best angle is not straight along the hull axis, but at about 10° to 15°. This way, all masts can be seen next to each other with only small gaps in between so that the chances of hitting mast is maximized.

Ships with low center structure get demasted more easily. It is possible to demast a ship by stern raking only.

Demasting is extremely powerful tactic as it renders your enemy quite helpless. When fighting multiple smaller enemies, demasting them one by one, you can take them out of the battle one by one and then finish them one by one. Whereas you would not stand a chance against all of them at the same time. Quite often, you see a bunch newbies take on a fight with a single third rate. The third rate just tanks all the rake damage and starts demasting them one by one.

Stern Raking

The stern is weakest part of a warship consisting of glass windows and luxury cabins rather than hard wooden planks. Stern raking is devastating historically and also in Naval Action.

Shoot at the stern parallel to the target hull. Use ball shot to destroy the stern armour. Continue to shoot with ball to destroy center structure, crew and cannons. To maximize crew damage, switch to grape shot when stern armour is down and shoot when passing the target stern at close distance.

It is possible to sink a ship by stern raking with ball shot. If you have a smaller, more manouverable ship, you should be able to stay behind the enemy's stern all the time, giving him no chance to hit you with his more powerful broadside. This is called "stern camping".

External Resources

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