This is not intended to be a in depth guide on how to be a gunner, engineer or captain. Rather it's intended to give essential tips to get you into the game and being as effective as possible.
3 Steps to being a valued crewmate.
1) Think Ahead.
Never join a game in progess as a gunner or a pilot.
For aspiring captains thinking ahead means crewing as an engineer or gunner with an experienced captain, piloting is complex and watching the mistakes and triumphs of others is the best way to learn.
You should have something to repair guns - a pipewrench being half spanner and half mallet, is a good choice for a role with only one engineer slot.
As for ammo you have 3 slots. For more information on ammo see the section called "Common ammo types for common loadouts". In-game, if you're still unsure which to use ask on crew chat (X for voice, J for text).
Experienced captains will either ask you to bring specific ammunitions in crew/voice chat or send you a recomemnded loadout dialogue, which might not include ammo you normally use, or ammo types discussed in this guide, trust in their judgement.
Also bring a spy glass for marking (called "spotting" in-game) enemy ships - left click to look through the glass, right click to spot ships. Spoted ships will have a white box around them making them visible even if they hide behind something or in clouds, they will also show up on the map (press M to view).
You should have a spanner, mallet, fire extinguisher OR chemical spray and spy glass.
For more information on using the mallet and spanner see the section called "Rebuild or Repair?".
For more information on what the differences between the Chemical Spray and the Fire Extinguisher and their use, see the section called "Dealng With Fires".
As for ammo you have 1 slot see the section called "Common ammo types for common loadouts" for ammo suggestions. In-game, if you're still unsure which to use ask on crew chat (X for voice, J for text).
Use the spy glass to spot enemies when you have a free moment - left click to look through the glass, right click to spot (have them appear on the game map, make them visible in clouds and behind objects) ships
If you're the only engineer on a ship never, never, never crew a ship with a buff hammer in your loadout unless you're asked to, it will be taking up the place of a tool that could mean the difference between life and death - and tempers do get frayed about things like that in the heat of battle.
If the captain of the ship doesn't assign you a role and/or station on the ship, assign yourself one but make sure you tell the others in the crew - press X to voice chat or J to text chat.
For gunners it's fairly apparent where they should be but for engineers the layout of some ships mean it's safer to divide the work between 2 engineers - one engineer looking after the hull and balloon say, and another engineer on the remaining components.
Once you have your specialisation stick to it - the biggest error new players make is to drop everything and run to the hull when it's damaged. A 4-way pinata party doesn't accomplish faster repairs, each component has a cool down period so no matter how many players are whaling on the same component only 1 of them is actually doing any repairing and a ship with no guns or engines is dead.
For engineers: If the hull goes down you die If the balloon pops you go down and the impact + rolling around on the ground will damage the hull until you die.
Between the 2, if you need to choose, only the hull need be kept at 100%.The balloon will work until it pops even if it's close to redlining.
(See the section called "Repair or Rebuild?" for specifics on dealing with the hull.)
In combat keeping engines at 100% is great unless it adversely affects the hull/balloon, engines like the balloon, will work until they turn red.
If the engines break the number and position of engines down will affect the ship's forward/backward movement and the ability to turn, but burning engines only need to be extinguished to stop the damage, worth bearing in mind if you're in a firefight and the hull is under threat. Don't be afraid to ask for help with repairs.
Out of combat get into the habit of watching for damage icons and fixing them while they are yellow or orange - tap once with the mallet and move on to the next component, rinse and repeat.
Depending on the weapons you are using you should be trying to destroy either weapons or engines or hulls or armour or balloons - ask your captain which to target if you're unsure. Firing at the wrong parts lessens the damage you can deal to a ship.
General gameplay tips (updated for V2.0)
This is a multiplayer game unlike any other. The success of the ship depends on each crew member and thier abilities. It's also supposed to be fun.
If you only want to play gunner or engineer or pilot, yet you're being asked to change to another role, leave the ship (while it's in the lobby). Pretending to be deaf or unable to read chat and waiting till people stop asking you is just going to severly irk everyone on the ship, these are not cruise liners, there are no passenger berths.
Following on from the tip above don't quickjoin a match as a pilot or gunner, only engineer, and make sure you're carrying a useful tool loadout. There's nothing worse than losing an AI engineer to get a live pilot or gunner who don't have enough repair tools or an engineer that can only buff and not put out fires.
Communicate X for voice chat or use the comm rose (check you have a key set for it iunfer options. Failing that J to text though battles are quite fraught at times and may get missed. There can never be too many comms - components breaking/on fire, enemy positions, ship angles blocking guns, wreckage looming out of the mist. Good comms help raise everyone's tacitcal awareness and keep the ship alive longer. Don't assume everyone has seen that enemy ship at your rear.
In the same vein - get a mic - typed chat may get ignored accidentaly during a battlle. Also bear in mind that while it's good to chat with your crewmates - voice comms are there primarily to co-ordinate the crew.
Learn to listen to other players. This means both players making suggestions for how you can better your game, or ways to approach something differently, and other crews in the lobby discussiing role load-outs, ammo load outs and/or tactics.
The Rangefinder - new for V.20
I'm adding rangefinder info here rather than with the role loadout info for reasons I explain below.
If you're new to gunning the range finder can be useful for figuring out things like where your weapons will start to become effective for mid to short ranges and where to point your gun to get hits over longer (1,000+ ) distances. Its read out is however approximate, so don't expect your shots to become homing missiles.
There are 2 ways to use it - first, as a gunner it equip it and put the centre dot on an enemy ship, it will give you an indication of the distance. If you hop directly onto the gun and sight the same ship, a ring will appear around the HUD crosshair showiing you how much to lead (aim ahead of the direction of movement) your target. It only stays visible for a couple of seconds so try and get the most out of it.
[/previewimg] The second way to use it is if another crew-member equips the tool while the gunner is looking down the gunsights. The same ring will show up around the gun sight for as long as the player eqipped with the ragefinder electronically tags the target.
Should I take this tool?
Clearly it is intended to replace the spyglass, meaning captains shouldn't consider bringing this as it will reduce their pilot tool slots by 1 (and you barely have enough even without it). As other crew, you need to weigh up the importance of being able to spot targets, over the aiming suggestions the tool gives. My personal opinion is once you start to "feel" gunnery distances you'll probably find you regret not taking the spyglass for its ability to make ships visible behind cover.
For most components when to repair or rebuild is pretty clear, their icons are either white, yellow or red. You only have to worry about yellow or red icons - yellow means it needs a repair (mallet), red needs a rebuild (spanner).
for yellow icons
for red icons
While the damage indicator is like the other ship components, the hull is the thing keeping all of the crew alive. Your ship is constructed of 2 layers - armour and hull. As the ship starts taking structural damage the armour will be the first casualty - however fear not, the damage is temporary and can be repaired and as long as you keep the armour up the hull won't take damage. Once the hull has taken damage however the damage will be permanent. Knowing which tools to use suddenly becomes literal life or death.
Below is a series of pictures showing a ship becoming progressively more damaged (with the ship hull health, which is usually at the lower right of your hud in overlay - mouse over the images to see which tool you should use :
If you aren't able to repair the armour before taking any more damage, the hull will be your (and the crew's) last lifeline.
To see what happens to the structure of a ship taking direct damage to the hull see the section Ship Damage States.
Dealing with Fires
It is crucial you think hard about which equipment you take - the choice being fire extinguisher or chemical spray.
Fire extinguisher pros:
It will instantly put out any fires
Fire Extingusher cons:
It will be queued in the repair cooldowns - in other words when you have a fire you are faced with a choice - repair the component and wait for the tool cooldown to run out before putting out the fire OR use the extinguisher to put out the fire and wait for the extinguisher cooldown to expire before repairing the component. Get the cool downs wrong on a vital component and you might just doom the ship.
Chemical Spray pros: It will put out fires and apply a fire resitant coating to components lasting 20 seconds.
Chemical Spray cons: It can't deal with heavy fires - anything more than 2 or 3 stacks (the number shown when a component is burning) will render it ineffective as a fire extinguisher. It is a preventative tool - in other words to get the most from it you need to apply it before getting flamed. This means you need to factor in the tool cooldown to your repair cycle.
You should prioritise vital componnets: hull, balloon, engines, main-damage dealing gun(s) - in that order.
When to use either
Generally speaking leaving a fire to burn will cause the affected component(s) to take damage that you will have to deal with at some point, early intervention means less time on repairs on vital (hull/balloon) components.
Click on ship names in the lobby and look at the ship loads outs to check for flame weapons (flamers, banshees and with experienced crews, flare guns). If someone already has a fire ext think about bringing chem spray. Bear in mind you will have to fit chem spraying into you repair circuit. You will need to understand which components to prioritise out of hull, balloon and guns (in that order), and spray them ahead of possible flame attacks. If you find your ship continually dying to both/or flamed balloons and hulls then you may be better off taking a fire extinguisher and dealing with the result of fire weapons rather than tyring to prevent the fires.
Ship Damage states (new in V 2.0)
Each ship in the game will change its shape according to its hull health. Knowing what to look for can be quite useful in-game, particualrly when looking to asses which ships can be taken out quickly to increased your odds of survival in battles.
In this section I'll be adding animations showing different ship types taking damage directly to the hull (click to enlarge).
Common ammo types for common loadouts (new for v2.0)
For gunners with your 3 ammo slots, you should be thinking about ammo types for long, mid and close ranges. As a gungineer (a engie who also guns) with 1 ammo slot, you should be thinking about mid to close range as you will have to divide your time between repairs and gunning. Also remember the stock ammo is a valid choice if you have limited ammo slots.
Gatling and Mortar/Gatling and Light Flak
gunner: Heavy Clip, Burst, and Greased
If you expect to get flamed (check for flamers by clicking on enemy ship names in the lobby) swap heat sink for burst