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Battle Navigation 2010

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1 Battle Navigation 2010 on Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:06 pm

Tlzallen

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This an update to the Battle Navigation (BNav) tutorial I designed several years ago. I hope to impart some of the insight I have gained that has allowed me to be successful over the years and maintain a ranking consistently in Midnight Ocean’s Top 10.

The first and biggest thing to remember is that there is no set strategy to beat the brigands. Unlike other puzzles in YPP, you are dealing with a pre-programmed Artificial Intelligence (AI). It attempts to think, act and react to you and your movements as the battle progresses. But it is the fact that it is programmed that can work to your advantage, if you let it.

Ships and Routes
Before we begin, it is essential that we discuss a few things about the ship. I would suggest that when you are starting out you ALWAYS use a sloop. This will help in keeping your opponents smaller and more manageable to defeat.

You should also make sure you are sailing on easier routes when first learning to BNav. You need to view the map to see how dark the League Points (LPs) are on the route you want to sail; the darker they are the harder they are. The hardest routes in the ocean are found in Ruby, while some of the easiest are found in Diamond.

Staffing the Ship piratedance
So after making sure you have plenty of rum and shot, you need to staff your crew. Personally there are two musts that make a pillage manageable – a good sailor and a good gunner. When undamaged, the sailor will give you all the moves you’ll likely need, and the gunner will give you the ability to defend yourself. When sloop pillaging, I always like to have 2 sailors, a carp, a bilge and a gunner. A third sailor is OK, but over-staffing a ship can cause the game to spawn larger enemies, which can be tough to beat.

Now that the ship is staffed and you’re out on the water, you look for an enemy to plunder. Once engaged, you will see a big change in the screen as the ship’s BNaver. Let’s take a quick look at the screen and what some of its components are…

Battle Navigation ~ Grid Elements
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The full battle navigation grid area is 25x25.

No. 1 – Open Water
This is the easiest place to battle a brigand, as there are no additional elements to take into consideration. So when starting out, I suggest you try and draw the enemy into a clear area so you can better estimate where he’ll be and when.

No. 2 – Wind
Wind moves you one additional space when landing on it. It blows from the smaller end of the icon to the larger. If you sit in the wind and do not move, it will carry you along until the wind runs out, which can be useful if you want to conserve moves.

No. 3 – Whirlpools dunno
Whirlpools are tricky little suckers. They always spin CLOCKWISE in all environments, except for the green ones in the Cursed Isles. We have a diagram of how they work in our forums. But in all honesty, the only way to really get how they work is to experiment with them.

No. 4 – Rocks
Rocks are obstacles in the Bnav environment that should not be hit (duh!), but that can be a valuable ally. You can hide behind them and use them to force an enemy to take a certain path and lead them into your line of fire. Cannons can be fired over the smaller rocks, but not the larger ones.

Battle Navigation ~ Two Simple Things...
When battling brigands, it is important to understand two main concepts. First, it is VERY advantageous for the brigands to grapple early. Therefore, they will try and and grapple your vessel any time they think you'll be close enough. So the big tip here is ... DON'T GET CLOSE ENOUGH FOR THEM TO GRAPPLE!.

Second, Brigands love to shoot. I have yet to see a brigand ship run out of cannonballs. Maybe its because if they actually ever got there they disengaged. But after a few long battles when they have done so and i re-engaged them, they always seemed to have shot. So whenever possible, stay away from their sides. The graphic below shows what I'm talking about.

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NOTE - Your ships has a blue line around it, the enemy has a gray one.

So basically, you stay out of that red zone and YOU CANNOT GET SHOT!

Battle Navigation ~ Basic Tactics

As I said before, the brigand's AI is nothing more than a computer program - a collection of what some programmer(s) told it to do when in certain scenarios. Since January of 2006, my quest has been to determine what the brigand AI was told to and use it against itself to maximize my advantage. Following are some tips and tendencies that I have picked up over the years that generally work very well for me. Please realize that these ARE NOT absolute and do not work every time. However, they do work the majority of the time.

Turn and Fire!
One of my most common tactics is to get my ship ahead of the enemy by two square and perpendicular to it, about three squares ahead of it. The first graphic below shows the setup I'm speaking of.

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The second image shows a move that brigands typically make midway to late in a battle. They want to get closer to you to grapple, and so try to close the gap quickly. By turning your ship right (or to starboard), you catch the enemy broadside and can get off at least one shot. If this scenario presents itself early in the battle, I'd suggest taking one shot and doing one of the two escape moves (seen in image 3) on turns 3 and 4 to maintain spacing and prevent an early grapple. If it is later in the battle and maybe you've already shot them a few times, taking a second or even third shot should be OK.

Turn and Fire! - Part II
This same tactic works if the brigand is running parallel to you and four squares away. He will likely try to come towards you on his first move, allowing you to move forward and sink a shot or two into him. It is pictured here in the first image.

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Due to the rocks to the port side (left), the only escape in this situation is a left followed by a right. This not only maintains your spacing from the brigand, but also gives you another chance to put a shot into him. You may take a shot in the back as you make the left turn, but you finish in better position and will likely end up shooting him 2 or 3 ties to his getting you once. Not too bad of a trade off!

The reason taking more than one shot is not advised early in the battle is that the enemy may go forward once, then make two right turns and try to shoot you as well. Sometimes employing something a "hit and run" tactic is good to slow them down and eventually move in for the kill.

Grapple Abuse
As I said before, the brigand is nothing more than a computer program that can do nothing more than what it is told. So late in the battle when you're trying to get that final kill shot and move in for the kill, it's very important to know one of the their almost automatic tendencies. That tendency is that when they are slowing and sense you near, they will try and grapple you on the first turn they THINK you'll be near them. Knowing that gives you a chance to move in, take a shot and continue moving to get better position for either more shots or a grapple on your terms. The next graphic shows a typical situation where you can take advantage of their willingness to grapple.

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As the battle nears its end and the brigand senses a chance to grapple to minimize damage, it assumes that on your second move you'll be right next to him and will throw his grappling hook. So his turns may look something like shoot on 1, grapple on 2, and maybe a shot or one move on turns 3 or 4, depending on what he has left in him. So what you want to do is take advantage of that second turn where he will be vulnerable and unable to shoot your ship.

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So on the first turn you stay idle, but move straight on the second and fire. Staying in this spot any longer than the second turn opens you up to getting hit without need, so move away on turn three.

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In this particular scenario, we have a great setup to use the wind to our advantage. If we were to ve forward on turns 3 and 4, we'd be setup to use the wind on turns 1 and 2 of the next round. Making a right turn into the wind, you can fire on turns 1 and 2, almost assuring at least one more hit. If the brigand musters a move and turns left to get closer to you, he may hit you with a shot. However, you'll likely trade trade shots with him and after reaching the end of the wind, you'll be behind him and able to take further advantage of him.

Leading Them On
In a situation similar to the one described above in "Turn and Fire", this scenario finds you running parallel to the enemy ship with only two squares between you. Should you stand static in this situation, the enemy may very well just go straight and you'll end up exchanging shots with the brigand. But why exchange shots when you can do all the shooting yourself? ;-)

The tendency for the Brigand here is to try and move closer and parallel to you so he can grapple you. Knowing that is what gives you the advantage here. So let's first look at what the brigand is likely to do.

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The brigand will likely move toward you in one of the two methods shown above, using a Left-Right or Straight-Left-Right maneuver. The trick here, as seen below, is to not be in either of the two squares directly in front of your ship on turns 2 or 3 as this may lead to a premature grapple. However, moving through these two squares on turns 1 and 2 to setup for a shot on turn 3 and possibly 4 is a great idea. So make your move like this...

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By going Straight-Straight-Right, you put yourself ahead of the enemy and leave him broadside to your starboard (Right side) guns, regardless of which route the brigand takes. Early in the battle I would probably fire once on turn 3 and then use the escape move of turning left on turn 4. If it's later in the battle and I think the enemy is running low on moves, I'd likely stay and fire a second shot on turn 4.

The Great Escape
OK, so ... you goofed up. huh? You got a little too close and now it appears that the enemy will grapple you on the next turn. Major bummer, huh dude? Ah, do not despair young grasshopper, for there are things that would seem contrary to your ship's health that can prove to be for the best outcome in a battle. So let's start with a situation like one shown below, with the enemy in the square right next to you and sitting perpendicular to your ship.

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The natural inclination is to turn away from the brigand, in this case to the right. But the brigand's first move will be a left turn (in this case), which will run him parallel to you and he WILL throw his grapple to starboard (the right). As can be guessed, doing nothing on the first turn will just earn you ram damage and a grapple, which is not a bad decision is you're planning to grapple the enemy anyway. So if the brigand is one or two cannon shots away from being maxed and you're relatively clean, allow him to ram you and grapple while you unload an extra shot(s) into him.

But if you truly need to escape, then there are TWO moves which should allow you to elude the brigand's grapple and keep on fighting. The first is opposite of what you'd think, but you turn into the enemy!

These two moves, the one by you and the one by the brigand, overlap each other and so I have put the brigand's move in using a black line.

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As can be seen, the brigand will toss his grapple to his starboard (right) side 99 times out of 100. By making a turn toward him, you escape and give yourself an opportunity to continue fighting. It has been my experience that the brigand will then make another forward move, and will continue to operate as though you went right (instead of left) for the remainder of that turn. So a good follow up move may be a right turn followed by 1 or 2 cannon shots.

A second maneuver that is good to have in your bag of tricks for an escape is to just move forward one square, as seen below.

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As can been seen, if you just move forward one and the brigand makes his left turn, you will be running in line with each other while both taking a little ram damage. As described above, the brigand will likely move forward one more, or even go right. But in either case, you have to get out of the space you have just moved into to avoid taking more ram damage. But here again, knowing what the brigand WANTS to do and using that against him is the key.

2 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:32 pm

Bloodydeath

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ooo! Very nice! That has some helpful tips! Thanks Tlzallen!

3 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:46 pm

Poemistress

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Nice stuff - surprising how many of these I've picked up for myself over the years. Took me over a year to get into my head that turning away when they are nose to your broadside wasn't a good idea. So all you newer navvers take heed and save yourself a year of omg wth they grappled me, :-)

4 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:26 pm

Guest


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Wow... very detailed. I like it tlzallen thank you for the info. Lol I agree with poem too... its funny how much of this stuff I've noticed a long the way :)

5 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:25 am

Guest


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/e lubs allen's dedication to helping become better in-game bnavvers! =)

/e gives allen 2 cookies!

6 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:18 pm

Tlzallen

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Rhapzody wrote:/e lubs allen's dedication to helping become better in-game bnavvers! =)

/e gives allen 2 cookies!
Thank ye
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7 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:20 pm

xule

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Haaar! awesome stuff allen. wow i never thougt there was a method to what i had learnt through experience.

some of my inputs on the matter, basing them on the categories ye have constructed

Turn and Fire!

super accurate. i do this for 80% of the battle. infact i try to create exactly this layout of ships so i am confident of a hit.

Grapple Abuse

this has become standard practice in ruby. ye will find bots grappling from round 1

The Great Escape

the best move in ruby atleast is to move straight (on both occasions shown), its the one thing that will succeed in all random grapple moves the bot makes, this may not work outside ruby!

once again great post allen!

8 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:15 pm

Tlzallen

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xule wrote:The Great Escape

the best move in ruby atleast is to move straight (on both occasions shown), its the one thing that will succeed in all random grapple moves the bot makes, this may not work outside ruby!

once again great post allen!

Thank you for all the kind comments! wheeeee

Xule - the only thing I have noticed is that every once in a great while the bot will move straight ahead and throw a grapple hook to the side you're on, and thus grab you if you too move straight. Can't say I've ever been nabbed going into them. My only problem with going straight is that you take damage. So if yer at very little or no damage, then it's cool to do that. If yer at mid-high damage, I'd stay away from it.

But good point nonetheless! piratedance

9 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:29 pm

xule

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Tlzallen wrote:
xule wrote:The Great Escape

the best move in ruby atleast is to move straight (on both occasions shown), its the one thing that will succeed in all random grapple moves the bot makes, this may not work outside ruby!

once again great post allen!

Thank you for all the kind comments! wheeeee

Xule - the only thing I have noticed is that every once in a great while the bot will move straight ahead and throw a grapple hook to the side you're on, and thus grab you if you too move straight. Can't say I've ever been nabbed going into them. My only problem with going straight is that you take damage. So if yer at very little or no damage, then it's cool to do that. If yer at mid-high damage, I'd stay away from it.

But good point nonetheless! piratedance


arr .. my impression was that it depends on what stage of the battle ye are on (they grapple more on the end but given that ruby bots just wanna grapple most of the time lately, it has always worked fer me)

10 Re: Battle Navigation 2010 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:34 pm

Tlzallen

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xule wrote:arr .. my impression was that it depends on what stage of the battle ye are on (they grapple more on the end but given that ruby bots just wanna grapple most of the time lately, it has always worked fer me)


OK, now I get what you're saying. Actually, I have found that the ruby bots have always tried to grapple early. I find that as a general rule, the harder the opponent the more they try to grapple. I think the AI figures if they have to be good, then you are likely good and can out nav them. That's why it's so important not to get prematurely grappled.

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