Naval Action

Naval Action

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Captain Collister's Gun Guide
By Pilgrim
This is intended as an introduction to and analysis of some of the known mechanics governing the cannons and carronades of Naval Action. Comments, opinions, criticism, corrections and advice are all happily accepted!
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Last updated: 2016-06-21 (patch 9.84)
Introduction
Ahoy! Another long distance voyage across the Caribbean and another opportunity to make presentable some of the statistics I collect from and some of the graphs and diagrams I make for Naval Action. In this guide I'll look at what we know about the guns of Naval Action and hopefully provide some useful points and suggestions or at least some data upon which you can draw your own informed conclusions.

Bear in mind that as this is a game still under development; statistics and specifications are very likely to change. But hopefully the general direction that has been taken in terms of gun damage output and so on will remain broadly the same.

For a discussion on the ships of Naval Action, please see my Ship Guide.
Ships and Gun Restrictions
The first thing to get straight is which guns you can actually fit on your ship. The bigger the ship, the bigger the guns that can be fitted. When wanting to find out which guns you may choose between, go to the Equipment tab while in port. Incidentally, if there is a red Cannons warning sign near the Sail button, then you need to equip guns before leaving (if you want to be able to fire at anyone that you attack or that attacks you!).

In this example picture I am in the port Old Providence with my trusty old Brig. The Brig has two slots available for guns under the Weapons header on the left; one at the back for stern chasers and one on the lowerdeck for the two broadsides. You only need to purchase one gun item to fit into each such slot.

I've highlighted here my gun item in the warehouse as well as the empty gun slot aboard my ship. The empty slot reads Lower Deck [8-9]/[7-8]. The sets of numbers in brackets following the name of the deck are which gun classes are possible to fit there. The first brackets are for cannons and the second are for carronades. Looking at the item in my warehouse, which I've mouseovered in the picture, you'll see that it is a carronade class 7, which means it fits into the slot. Had it been a cannon class 7, it would not have fit, because cannons aboard the Brig's broadside are limited to class [8-9].

So when deciding on which guns to get, first make sure you understand which guns could actually fit aboard your ship. Remember to read the information as:
Cannon location [Cannon classes]/[Carronade classes]

Right, with that out of the way - let's take a look at the difference between cannons and carronades!
Cannons and Carronades
In Naval Action there are actually three types of guns; long cannons, medium cannons and carronades. However, the first two both count as cannons as far as ship size limitations are concerned. Each gun type is available in various "weights", which are actually the weight of the shot fired. So for instance, a 9lb long cannon fires 9lb shots. One of the first things you'll notice when looking at guns is that carronades tend to be a lot heavier than cannons. For instance, at gun class 8 you'll find medium sixes (6lb medium cannons), long sixes and carronade 12s. This reflects the construction of the guns.

Carronades
Carronades are short stubby guns that are designed to take miminal space and fire as heavy shot as possible. For this reason, you can fit powerful guns onto small ships. However, there is a drawback to this design - carronades have much shorter range and accuracy than cannons. They have decent armour penetration at close range but it drops off quickly with range.

Cannons
Cannons, on the other hand, are longer and thus take up more space aboard vessels. Therefore, selecting cannons over carronades generally means selecting less powerful guns - simply because of the size of the cannon itself. However, the advantage of equipping cannons are greater range and accuracy. Also, the penetration of cannons is higher than carronades, and in particular it drops off more slowly at longer ranges.

Quick (but vital) terminology check
Carronades, despite being physically smaller, are more powerful than cannons, which are physically larger yet weaker. To avoid potential confusion when talking about guns - instead of using words like big, heavy, powerful, etc., the game uses the gun class mentioned earlier to define which guns may be brought aboard a vessel.

So remember:
The class of gun is what determines whether or not it fits on a ship, not the weight of shot it fires or the actual size of the gun.

Medium or Long
Cannons, unlike carronades, come in two different designs. They can be long or medium. Long cannons trade increased accuracy and range for decreased damage and increased reload times. Long cannons also have higher penetration than medium cannons.

Recap and Comparison
So we have carronades, long cannons and medium cannons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. To summarise what's been discussed so far, here is a table comparing three different guns that all fire the same 12lb ball. The columns 50, 100, 250, 500, 750 and 1000 give the penetration value at these ranges (in meters). Note the wide variations of stats!

Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
Range(m)
Accuracy
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
Class
12lb Carronade
41
33
450
Poor
86
77
54
20
0
0
5
8
12lb Medium Cannon
41
45
1200
Decent
91
88
78
63
50
38
6
5
12lb Long Cannon
39
49
1400
Good
96
93
83
67
53
41
7
5

The most significant thing to note in the table above is that the 12lb cannons (medium and long) are both class 5, which means that they will only fit on frigates or larger vessels. However, the 12lb carronades are class 8, which means that you can put them on literally any ship in the game. So as you can see, carronades do more damage than cannons, but arguably their greatest asset is their small size, which means you can use these powerful weapons on the smaller ships early on in your career.

Also, with the new crew mechanics it is important to remember that long cannons require more crew per gun than medium cannons and that carronades need fewer men per gun than medium cannons. This is relevant for crew management purposes.

Before moving on in the guide, let's just look more closely at accuracy and penetration.

Accuracy and range
Accuracy (or rather inaccuracy) is measured in the game by the maximum dispersion of shot. This is measured on two axes; horizontal and vertical, and given per 100m. So the idea is, if you fire loads of shots straight at something 100m away without moving your gun, how much variation will exist in where your shots actually land?

So a horizontal dispersion of 4m per 100m means that firing two shots aimed exactly the same way at a target 100m away could either result in them both striking the target perfectly or one landing 4 meters to the left of the target and the other landing 4 meters to the right of the target. Yeah - you don't need to feel so bad about missing anymore! Vertical dispersion works the same way except above and below the target.

The dispersion of all guns of the same type is the same. So all carronades, regardless of size, have the same dispersion. The same is true of range. Here is a table specifying the range and accuracy of the gun types more precisely:
Gun
Horizontal dispersion per 100m(m)
Vertical dispersion per 100m(m)
Range(m)
Carronade
8
16
450
Medium Cannon
5
13
1200
Long Cannon
4
12
1400

Penetration
Penetration was previously a mysterious value in Naval Action but has now been included in the game's tooltips. Basically, the idea of penetration is that certain shots are fired more powerfully and thus result in a greater likelihood of punching through planking and hull than others. At very close range medium cannons and carronades have similar penetration, but carronades' penetration values drop off very rapidly with range. Long cannons have higher penetration at all ranges. But more about this in the next section!
Penetration, Damage and DPS
So now that you know the difference between the different gun types, the question remains; which one is best suited for my play style? While no one can really answer that but you, my aim is to now provide some data and graphs for you to use in order to draw your own conclusions as well as give some hints and ideas.

Damage
The first graph I'd like to show is one illustrating the way in which the increased damage done by guns of heavier weight does not in fact simply translate into a higher DPS (damage per second). DPS is calculated to see how much damage can be done in ideal circumstances where fire is maintained upon a target with perfect accuracy over time.

What happens, in fact, is that the increased time it takes to reload these guns results in the DPS actually falling with increasing weight of guns. This is the first of two important dynamics of which to be aware, and it is presented graphically here:


In this graph, the different guns are mapped according to weight, class and type. The colour denotes the gun type (red for Carronade, blue for Medium Cannon and green for Long Cannon), the # next to each point is the weight of the shot fired, and the lines connecting the points show to which class they belong.

Disregarding 68 pound carronades, which are uniquely devastating (the reason they were historically known as "Smashers"), DPS usually falls with increasing size of shot fired. This means that your shots will be harder-hitting but you will be firing fewer of them.

Note also in this graph how Carronades offer far higher damage potential than Cannons of the same class, but remember as well the limited range of Carronades mentioned previously. This graph also clearly shows the lower damage output of Long Cannons compared to Mediums as well as the negative affect (in DPS) of Long Cannons' increased reload times.

In any case, the graph above shows you the trade-off available to Captains between firing many weaker shots that ultimately together cause more damage or few heavier shots that individually cause more damage each.

Penetration
However, things are not quite that simple. A further complexity, and the second of the two important dynamics of which to be aware, is introduced with the penetration value of shots mentioned briefly above. The penetration value for each gun represents the ability of shots fired from it to smash through armour and cause damage to hull. Ships have different armour values expressed in cm thickness. I believe the penetration value equals the thickness of armour that a shot can break through. Penetration differs between gun types but is always initially highest and falls as the range of the shot increases.

Here is a graph showing the penetration value for each gun type at the ranges 50, 100, 250, 500, 750 and 1000 meters:


In this graph, Carronades are red, Medium Cannons are blue and Long Cannons are green. The clear pattern here is that Carronades all lose penetration values at a similar rate, as do the Medium and Long Cannons. This means that at ranges exceeding 500 meters, Carronades become essentially worthless. Long Cannons always have higher penetration values than Medium Cannons of the same weight.

Thus it becomes clear that guns of increasing weight not only exhibit the dynamic relationship between DPS and damage discussed above, but also a trade-off between smaller guns which have high DPS and larger guns which have high armour penetration.
Gun Type Summary
The two important dynamics illustrated in the graphs above are central to the foundation of any gunning philosophy. Namely;
(1) Heavier guns cause more damage per shot, but take longer to reload resulting in a lower DPS.
(2) Heavier guns penetrate thicker armour. Carronades have decent penetration at close range but very low at long range. Long Cannons always have higher penetration than Medium Cannons of the same weight.

Combining these points with those from the earlier section on Cannons and Carronades, it's possible to draw up a decent comparison of gun types:
Attribute
Carronades
Medium Cannons
Long Cannons
Damage
High
High
Low
DPS
High
Medium
Low
Penetration (50m)
High
Very High
Highest
Penetration (500m)
Low*
Medium
High
Penetration (1000m)
None
Low
Medium
Range
Short
Long
Very Long
Reload
Fast
Medium
Slow
Gun Crew
Small
Medium
Large
Accuracy
Low
High
Very High
* 500m is beyond the range of Carronades and so any penetration is entirely theoretical at this point and only a danger to marine life.

To exemplify these general differences between the gun types, here is a comparison of the three different 12lb guns available in Naval Action. The plotted graph is penetration against range for the three guns and inset onto the chart are a number of other comparisons:


Damage and DPS are explained in depth above. Range is given in meters. Gun crew is self-explanatory and Horizontal Dispesion is a measure of inaccuracy, i.e. how much random spread there is to shots fired from this gun. This graph should summarise all of the above and give you a good idea of in which way the different gun types differ.

However, in-game you will seldom be choosing between three different gun types of the same weight. In fact, as mentioned earlier, one of the main strengths of Carronades are their ability to be fitted onto smaller ships (and decks). This means that aboard a smaller vessel, or aboard the topdecks of the larger vessels, you will have a choice between very heavy Carronades or more regular-sized Cannons. For this reaon, your comparison will usually not be as clear-cut as the one above.

An example of the choice with which you are more commonly faced is when outfitting most unrated vessels early on in your career. The class 8 guns that fit on the Cutter, for example, are the 6lb Long and Medium Cannon and the 12lb Carronade. These will now be presented in the same manner as above. In the following graph penetration is again plotted against range with the same other factors inset onto the chart:


In the diagram covering the 12 pounders, the Carronade's strengths relative the Cannons were its high DPS and small gun crew. Here, however, the strengths are very different. The DPS remains highest for Carronades (far more so in fact), but the Carronades also exhibit a much higher damage per shot as well as initially higher penetration. Thus, this graph is a good example of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the guns available at each class - you will more often be comparing Cannons with oversized Carronades and not with Carronades of the same size.
Fighting the Enemy
Before taking this knowledge of guns and applying it to a combat situation, it is necessary to define a final few concepts in the game.

Structure and Armour
This is a completely vital difference to understand. Structure is the health of a ship. A ship counts structure at four different positions; the bow (front), left and right sides and the stern (rear). When your structure has been heavily reduced, your ship is collapsing and falling apart and you will begin to take in water and ultimately sink.

However, in order to damage the structure of a ship, you need to first penetrate its armour. This is where the penetration values of the guns mentioned above come in. I will also touch on this once more further down in this section.

The difference between structure and armour is thus like the difference between Health Points and Armour Class in an RPG, or Hull and Shields in a space simulator. You can't damage the structure without penetrating the armour.

As with structure mentioned above, a ship has armour values in the same four different positions; bow, left and right sides and stern. However, neither structure nor armour are the same in every position on a ship. Below is a picture of the beautiful Gros Ventre trading ship illustrating the varying strength of structure and armour in the ships of Naval Action.


The sides of ships are always the strongest. Usually, you will be presenting your sides to the enemy as this is where all your guns are. Here your structure is 100% and your armour is 100% thick. The bow of ships is more delicate; here your structure is only 25% of the structure of your sides and your armour only 60%. This means that it is easier to damage a ship by hitting their bow because it is easier to penetrate the weaker armour. It also means that your ship will begin to sink a lot faster if you take damage to your bow because you have so little structure there. The stern is weaker still; here a ship has only 10% of the structure of the sides and a meagre 40% of the armour value the sides. It is much easier to damage a ship by hitting its stern and ships will very quickly begin to take in water if damaged there because of the very low structural integrity of this part of the ship. These ratios are the same for all ships in Naval Action.

Penetration and Bounce
Let's revisit penetration once more. If you are firing into an enemy ship but note that your shots are simply bouncing off, it means that they are not penetrating the armour of your opponent's ship. This is because your penetration value was not higher than their armour thickness. This can be resolved in three ways:
  • By engaging the enemy more closely
  • By firing into the bow or stern of the enemy instead of their side
  • By adjusting the angle of your shot

Starting with the first and second of these ways, here is an example of what happens when you fire at the enemy from range. Below is a graph of the penetration values of a 9lb Medium Cannon by range. The horizontal lines are the armour values in thickness of the Surprise frigate at its different positions.


The arrows that I have added to this graph illustrate the points where the penetration value of the shot no longer is greater than the armour value of the ship. Because penetration potential goes down with range, this means that at some point, shots will no longer be able to penetrate the armour of the enemy ship. In this example, this happens at around 500m when firing at the Surprise's side armour with a 9lb Medium Cannon. Because the armour of the stern is only 40% of the armour of the sides, you can still penetrate the Surprise's armour at a range exceeding 1000m if you hit its stern.

This graph shows that at a certain point (depending on your gun choice, the range of the engagement and the armour of your opponent), you will not be able to penetrate your enemy's armour. It also shows you two ways of amending this; by engaging more closely (thus raising your penetration value) or by instead hitting your opponent in the bow or stern.

Take a moment to relate this graph to what was discussed earlier on the varying penetration of the different gun types. Long Cannons, despite their low damage and DPS, have high penetration. This is a less obvious strength than simply a higher damage output number, but it is a powerful advantage.

The shots with which you hit, and which should penetrate may still do no damage. This is because of the angle of your hit. If you hit the enemy's ship straight-on, you will achieve maximal penetration. However, if you strike the enemy's ship at an angle, this will reduce the penetration value of your shot. Because you will be engaging ships from all sorts of positions and because ships are rounded, this means that sometimes you will hit the enemy ship with upwards, downwards or sidewards glancing hits. These reduce the penetration potential of your shot in proportion to the angle. For this reason, it is a good idea to do your best to avoid firing at the enemy such that the shot will strike a curved surface or strike the enemy from a sidewards angle.

Battle Scenarios
To round off this discussion on penetration, here is a graph illustrating some example engagements between guns of various types and sizes and ships of various armour thickness. The graph is structured in the same way as the previous penetration against range charts. Most guns have been removed to avoid cluttering the chart too much. The guns illustrated are gun class 8 (6lb cannons and 12lb carronades), 5 (12lb cannons and 24lb carronades) and 3 (24lb cannons and 42lb carronades).


Compared against the penetration of these guns at varying range are the armour thickness of the Victory 1st rate, the 3rd Rate, the frigates Constitution and Cerberus and the unrated Mercury and Snow. This armour thickness is for their broadsides. Remember that they are weaker at the bow and stern, as all ships.

In the same way as in the previous graph, you can compare penetration against armour at various ranges. So, for example, 12lb medium cannons can penetrate a Snow at 850m but need to be about 300m away to penetrate a Victory. 24lb long cannons can penetrate the Victory from 750m and can penetrate the Cerberus from over a kilometer away. The 6lb medium cannon will almost never be able to dent the Victory's broadside, so you'll need some pretty clever manoeuvering and sustained fire into the stern or bow to bring one down (don't try this at home kids)!

As a final note on these penetration values specifically in relation to ships' armour thickness - bear in mind that there are various upgrades and wood types that alter the thickness of a ship's armour. These values are the default for each ship (oak). Teak and Live Oak add 4 and 7cm respectively to armour thickness while Fir reduces it by -7cm.
Fighting the Enemy Cont.
DPS v Damage
As illustrated above, there is a trade-off between selecting for guns with maximum DPS and maximum damage. This trade-off is further complicated by high penetration being linked to high damage. First of all, let's just focus on DPS contra damage.

In a sense, the option between highest DPS and highest total damage per broadside both rely on the Captain being able to make the most out of their selection. Selecting for a high DPS places a lot of importance on being able to keep your guns trained on the opponent more or less permanently in order to get the most out of your high rate of fire. Selecting for high damage highlights the importance of maneuvering such that you dictate to your opponent the terms of battle and deny them broadside-to-broadside combat until you have reloaded your heavier and slower guns.

This highlights the question of whether or not the bottleneck to your engagements is reloading or finding firing solutions. In scenarios where you are engaging from a long range, for example, you will essentially always have a firing solution on your opponent. This means that you will be limited chiefly by the reloading time of your guns. Thus, striving to reduce reload time, and increasing DPS but lowering damage, will have a positive impact on your damage output. This could be done equipping smaller but faster reloading guns.

Conversely, if you are engaged in close combat and are frequently weaving in an attempt to find a firing a solution on your opponent then you are limited chiefly by finding firing solutions. In such instances it would be beneficial to focus on raising your damage as much as possible seeing as you will have time to reload in any case. This can be achieved by equipping heavier but slower reloading guns.

Penetration (again) and Opponent Armour
This is all well and good, but the problem arises when you have to also take penetration into account. Remember that DPS is negatively correlated with penetration.

Firing from long range means that the penetration value of your shots will be low by the time they hit the opponent. For this reason focusing on DPS and equipping smaller but faster reloading guns runs the risk of decreasing your penetration so far that you will not be able to damage your opponent.

Therefore it is of paramount importance to consider the armour of the enemy you wish to engage when selecting guns. Fighting smaller ships (which usually have thinner armour) means that you don't need to worry so much about penetration. This allows for engaging at longer ranges and/or equipping smaller but faster reloading guns which give a higher DPS.

However, if you are going to engage larger ships (which usually have thicker armour) then you do need to think about penetration. If you are going to engage a heavy enemy ship at long range, you will need heavier guns and must necessarily equip larger Cannons with higher penetration in order to cause damage from range. If you do want to focus on DPS and equip smaller but faster reloading guns then you will need to engage the heavy enemy ship from close range.

AI and PvP
Bear in mind that DPS is a somewhat misleading concept as it assumes that all of your shots hit, and that you maintain a steady rate of fire. Neither of which tend to happen in actual combat! However, it is useful as an indicator of how much damage output capacity you potentially have. Especially when fighting AI ships, trapping the enemy for a long slugging broadside-to-broadside battle is often the fastest method of achieving victory. It is quite easy to engage the enemy on these terms. This means that players wanting to engage in PvE make a wise choice in maximising DPS and equipping as small and as quickly reloading guns as possible without reducing their penetration value below the armour thickness of the opponent. Against the AI, of couse, it is easy to sail close and maintain a fierce uninterrupted engagement from whatever range you'd like. This means that you can equip smaller guns than you usually would and maintain close distance to the enemy without fear of them reacting intelligently and outsmarting you. Carronades are a prime choice for fighting AI ships as they offer the highest DPS of all guns.

In PvP it is my view that Carronades should be completely avoided unless you are part of a group of ships. PvP is often fought at range meaning that equipping Carronades will see you outmatched in terms of range, penetration and accuracy. Whether Medium or Long Cannons are ideal depends very much on your ship, the enemy's ship, your accuracy, your fighting preference, etc., so I will not recommend solidly anything at this point. But I will send up a warning flag for anyone considering using Carronades in PvP.

Undercrewing
As mentioned, when frequently engaging smaller vessels (presumably without thick armour) equipping for maximum DPS may represent the fastest method of destroying the enemy. Increasing your DPS means minimizing reload times and choosing smaller guns.

Beyond the effects this choice has on penetration, DPS and damage, choosing smaller guns also affects your crew dynamics. As mentioned earlier, smaller guns require smaller gun crews. For this reason it is possible to man larger ships with more guns if you keep the gun crew requirement in check. Here is a table exemplifying this:

Ship
Guns (1 side)
Loadout
Sailcrew
Guncrew (1 side)
Total crew
DPS (1 side)
Trincomalee
25
Medium 18s and 9s
135
153
288
21.52
Bellona
37
Medium 12s, 9s and 6s
160
190
350
33.58

In this example a player of Post Captain rank (350 crew) compares the choice between sailing a Trincomalee equipped with maximum sized guns or undercrewing a Bellona equipped with smaller guns. Both ships are equipped with Medium Cannons with their sizes listed per gundeck. The ships require a different number of crew to sail them given under Sailcrew. The column Guncrew (1 side) gives the number of men required to work one broadside aboard each ship. Together with the sailing crew this number creates the value under Total crew.

As can be seen here, the DPS is more than 50% higher for a Bellona equipped with small guns compared to a Trincomalee equipped with a more regular armament. Yet both can be crewed (sailed and operating one broadside) by a Post Captain (350 crew). The implications of this are that players seeking to maximise DPS should strongly consider looking into undercrewing larger ships with more guns. This is ideal when fighting AI ships, for instance, because you can control the engagement and make sure only to operate the one broadside you can crew.

I have compiled a lot of data on undercrewing ships and hope to make a Steam Guide specifically on this topic in the future.
Summary and Gunnery Philosophy
Summary
So, finally having brought all this knowledge into combat situations, a good starting point for a final discussion on gunnery philosophy is the dynamic between DPS and Damage. In many games, you'll simply want to maximise your DPS to make sure you are as powerful as possible. However, as mentioned earlier, the issue of gun selection in Naval Action is slightly more complex because damage is positively correlated with penetration but negatively correlated with DPS.

Thus, maximising your damage output means putting the largest guns on your ship. These can be either Carronades (if you don't mind close quarter engagements) or Medium Cannons (if you do). However doing this lowers your DPS and puts your penetration under what it could maximally be (with Long Cannons).

If you choose to maximise your DPS you will necessarily lower your damage per shot and penetration. To achieve maximum DPS you should (somewhat counterintuitively) equip the smallest but fastest-reloading Carronades or Medium Cannons (depending on your taste).

Maximising penetration means going for the heaviest Long Cannons you can equip, but this will lower your DPS and damage per shot.

Recommendations
I didn't compose this guide to push a certain approach to the game or to recommend a specific weapon loadout. Rather, my intention has been to explain and illustrate the gun mechanics of Naval Action so that you, the reader, can apply this knowledge to your own gaming experience.

I will now conclude, however, with a brief description, and advice for, some of the broad groupings of players that I have encountered in the Caribbean. In truth, there are as many approaches to gunnery as there are Captains in Naval Action, but they can be grouped broadly into three chief philosophies; Brawlers, Snipers, and Disablers. Bearing in mind the contents of the guide so far, here is an outline of these philosophies and how they are affected by the different gun choices.

Brawlers
Brawlers like to get up as close as possible and lock the enemy in combat. Naturally this strategy benefits hugely from increases to rate of fire, damage and penetration. If you find yourself engaging the enemy on these terms, you are probably using carronades, and there is little reason for you to do anything else!

Carronades offer the highest rate of fire and highest damage of all the gun types. Furthermore, their penetration values are as a rule very high at close range. Sailing in close to the enemy and firing from as close as range as possible means that the inferior range and accuracy of carronades is irrelevant. Neither medium nor long cannons can compete with carronades in terms of what is important to the Brawler.

The choice between high DPS or high raw damage per broadside depends a lot on how often you find yourself maneuvering between broadsides. In a nimble ship, DPS should be a priority as you will seldom find yourself without a firing solution. However, in a bulkier ship, outfitting for raw broadside damage over DPS may be worthwhile, seeing as you won't be able to make use of said DPS if you are stuck between broadsides much of the time. In terms of penetration, when equipped with carronades you shouldn't have to worry much of the time as they are typically very powerful at close quarters.

I'd like to wave my red flag once more of the danger of fighting PvP with carronades equipped. While such a loadout is indeed ideal for fighting AI ships, the severely reduced range of carronades compared to cannons is a huge risk factor in PvP. In a group this risk is mitigated but on your own you are very likely to be outmaneuvered or disabled, particularly if you are aboard a heavier ship.

Snipers
Snipers focus on damaging the enemy with greater accuracy than that with which said enemy can respond. Naturally, Snipers tend to gravitate towards long cannons for their high accuracy and range. The high penetration of long cannons is ideal for combat at long range, as medium cannons will sometimes struggle to impact the enemy's ship at extreme range.

Long cannons' range means that you sometimes will be able to engage the enemy without them being able to respond as well as being able to damage them at longer ranges. However, changing to medium cannons and closing range slightly may be worth considering. The increase in rate of fire and damage may be worth the loss of a modicum of accuracy. Moving from long to medium cannons increases DPS by about 20% - if you are a good shot - try achieving it with medium cannons!

DPS is often preferable for Snipers - you'll more or less always have a firing solution on your enemy, so make the most use of it! Just don't push your gun size too low striving for higher DPS as this will negatively impact the penetration value of your weapons - and for a Sniper penetration is paramount.

Disablers
Disablers aim to damage the rigging or crew of their enemies in order to render them defenceless before taking them out at ease by manoeuvering around them with their healthier ships. Here it is even more important than in the other strategies to achieve the aim quickly. If the opponent responds with fire at your hull, you can't afford to tarry in disabling them. In this endeavour, all three gun types could potentially be favoured.

Carronades are suited for disabling due to their enormous damage output and high rate of fire. However, a drawback to carronades not often considered is the difficulty of maintaining a targeting arc on your opponent. The closer you are to the enemy, the more difficult it is to keep your guns trained on them.

For this reason, medium cannons are often preferred by Captains aiming to disable the enemy. Maintaing a respectable distance to the enemy makes it a little easier to keep a steady rate of fire and make the most of the DPS available.

Long cannons are an interesting option for those looking to disable their opponents. Although using long cannons all but rules out the use of grape shot, the increase in range and accuracy means that chain shot or round shot aimed at the rigging of your enemy becomes all the more lethal. The drawback of lengthy reload times is hopefully balanced by the more accurate fire from a more comfortable (for you) range, which often renders return fire from the enemy difficult or impossible (if they are armed with carronades).

In terms of selecting between high DPS or high raw damage per broadside, consider how often you will have a firing solution on your opponent. Particularly if you have opted for long cannons, focusing on DPS can be a wise choice indeed. Just remember that if you intend to disable from long range, it is very important to have guns with good penetration values. This means that you may have to go for the heavier, more slowly firing, guns after all.

Ship Selection
This guide has covered the guns of Naval Action. If you are contemplating which ship is most suitable for your play style, please see my Ship Guide for an in-depth analysis of the ships of Naval Action.
Final Words
This guide is intended to share my understanding of the game with you. If you spot any errors, please let me know and I'll correct the guide.

Also, I'm aware that the game is still being developed, and so aim to continue to update this guide as things change. Recently this has meant essentially rewriting everything to bring it inline with the new penetration mechanics.

As this is a continually evolving game, I apologise in advance for any details that may become outdated.

Also, there may be a few typos still, but I'm always keeping my eyes open for them, so will hopefully catch them sooner or later!
Appendix: Gun Tables
Here is included a list of damage, reload, DPS and crew requirement values used in the analyses above, sorted per class. Also included are the penetration values for 50, 100, 250, 500, 750 and 1000 meters for each gun.
L = Long Cannon
M = Medium Cannon
C = Carronade
(#) = Weight

Class 9
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L4
28
33
1.39
65
61
51
37
26
17
5
M4
30
30
1.70
61
57
47
32
20
11
4
Class 8
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L6
30
38
1.21
80
76
66
50
37
26
5
M6
32
35
1.48
75
71
61
45
33
22
4
C12
41
33
1.41
86
77
54
20
0
0
5
Class 7
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
C18
44
40
1.23
97
90
67
347
2
0
6
Class 6
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L9
34
44
0.95
91
87
77
61
47
36
6
M9
36
40
1.15
85
81
72
57
44
33
5
Class 5
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L12
39
49
0.87
96
93
83
67
53
41
7
M12
41
45
1.05
91
88
78
63
50
38
6
C24
46
43
1.12
107
100
78
45
4
0
7
Class 4
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L18
42
58
0.76
110
107
95
80
65
53
8
M18
44
53
0.91
102
99
88
74
60
49
7
C32
48
47
1.07
116
109
89
57
6
0
7
Class 3
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L24
44
63
0.70
120
116
106
90
75
62
9
M24
46
58
0.84
112
109
99
84
70
58
8
C42
50
49
1.02
126
119
101
74
8
0
7
Appendix: Gun Tables Cont.
Class 2
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L32
46
69
0.67
129
126
114
98
85
71
9
M32
48
63
0.80
120
117
107
92
79
66
8
C68
81
50
1.62
157
149
129
97
12
0
7
Class 1
Gun
Damage
Reload(s)
DPS
50
100
250
500
750
1000
Crew
L42
48
71
0.67
140
135
125
109
94
81
11
M42
50
65
0.77
129
125
115
100
87
75
10
< >
43 Comments
Pilgrim  [author] Jun 29 @ 12:01pm 
Sorry to hear that Vasduten. :/ This guide is very outdated - I just don't have the time to play the game, let alone maintain this, these days. Again tho - sorry to hear the game has taken a turn for the worse.
Vasduten Jun 29 @ 11:25am 
You're going to have to update this to show that 4lb mediums are now the highest DPS in the game.

A Santi with 9 and 4lb mediums is now far more devastating than anything carrying bigger guns due to the insane gun rework and the reload times.

The game just became a bait-and-switch operation and it sucks now. I'd never have bought it if I knew they'd gut ballistics and make it so that guns' penetration INCREASES after a certain distance defying physics.
Pilgrim  [author] May 13, 2020 @ 2:51pm 
I haven't been playing the game for some time, so yes it is outdated per the timestamp at the top!
Amihai May 13, 2020 @ 5:44am 
hopelessly outdated
Sir Texas Sir Dec 3, 2019 @ 7:20am 
Yah very out dated lol
Blue Winged King Fisher Dec 2, 2019 @ 2:28am 
as of 1/12/2019 this guild is out of date no longer applies to the current cannon's in the game
Pilgrim  [author] Dec 16, 2016 @ 3:35am 
Ahoy! Yes, it does indeed sorely need updating. Sadly, I don't have the time to go through it at the moment but am hoping to get back to it at some point in the New Year! Fair winds and Happy Holidays! :PirateShip:
Sir Texas Sir Dec 16, 2016 @ 12:07am 
Needs to be updated and have the class 1 36 lbrs for the l'Ocean added. I love the charts cause it helps me figure out best crew management for the guns I'm going to use with which ships.
janat08 Nov 13, 2016 @ 1:11pm 
But the game does simulate ballistics to a degree where carronades whould should at appreciably higher angle? I haven't played so far, but in the vids you'd notice that some rounds fligh significantly higher in first person that could just be the upper decks.
Pilgrim  [author] Nov 13, 2016 @ 2:55am 
Ahoy there janat!

That's an interesting idea regarding elevation and angle of impact - it's certainly worth investigating although I imagine it would be difficult to quantify, as there are no direct in-game values for these parameters, and data derived from gameplay may introduce various uncontrolled variables such as ship heel, etc.

As for the crew requirements - the data was true at the point of the latest timestamp, which admittedly was a fair while ago. I've unfortunately not had as much free time as I used to and so haven't been able to update this for a while. If it's changed significantly, then perhaps the ratio you mention is closer, although I doubt the values would have changed that much!

Fair winds and good luck should you choose to look into elevation, etc.! :bigship: